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UCL Public Engagement Blog




By Lizzie, on 16 September 2020

Have you heard about our Share Your Co-pro Story project? Read on to meet the People’s Voice Media team, who share more about the power of stories, and see three of the stories we’ve already collected. We hope they inspire you to get creative and share your #CoProStory….

First submissions

Mark was happy to take on the challenge and shared one of his many stories about co-production on Twitter, kicking off the project as the first one to tag us and use the hashtag #CoproStories. His addition was a smiley face. No, not from the keyboard, an actual physical version of the iconic symbol of happy. It even has a name: Bob. This smiley figurine came from a co-production session, back in the days of face-to-face meetings (Remember those? Neither do we). Mark introduced us to Bob to reminisce about a whole day spent co-producing, the end result of which was actually the creation of Bob in addition to a few handy tips to help understand about how service users feel.

Scrabble board

Image of scrabble letters across a table, spelling out “Done is better than perfect”. We are looking for authentic stories, in whatever shape they come, so don’t worry too much about the production value of your creation. As long as they are real, they are perfect. (Photo credit: Brett Jordan)

Sarah took a different route and wowed us with an entire infographic about her journey, complete with lovely illustrations and a plain text version attached for wider accessibility. The infographic takes us on a clearly narrated timeline starting from Sarah’s university days when she began developing ideas for accessible education with other disabled students, all the way to her first fully co-produced projects competed in 2019. It was as impressive as it was pleasing to look at, but what we liked most was Sarah’s comments later on, how she could have shown “how concurrent so much of co-production prep and work is but that would have been a visual nightmare.” She settled instead for “a clean timeline and the overrunning threads stay inside my head”.

Extract of a timeline from Sarah's co-pro story

A snapshot of Sarah’s co-pro story c. Sarah O’Brien

Rory started her co-pro journey in the last days of February, earlier this year. So, you could say she’s quite green to this whole area. She thought so too, and decided to talk about the experience in parallel with her debut as a novice gardener that happened just around the same time. She had to get to grips with the basics then nuances of co-production whilst working from home. While her office away from the office leaves something to be desired in terms of a peace and quiet and a proper desk and chair, this special solitary time allowed her to be more patient and learn something completely new – a life-long skill that shapes the way you interact with your environment and how you show compassion. Co-production! Oh, and also taking care of plants.

Taking the stories further

We’d also like to introduce the People’s Voice Media team – Community Reporters Lauren, Sally and Isaac (you might recognise them from our Co-production Network!). They will be helping us to explore some stories in more depth, interviewing storytellers and running a workshop to co-create a report and video package.

The Community Reporting movement uses digital tools to support people to tell their own stories in their own ways. They believe (and so do we) that people telling authentic stories about their lived experiences offers a valuable opportunity for understanding, challenging perceptions and sparking change. We hope to be doing a lot more with them over the coming months, including storytelling workshops with our wider community.

Lauren has worked for People’s Voice Media for two years, mostly on story curation and research, amplifying the voices of storytellers by bringing their tales together and finding meaning. She has a background in academia, but now works freelance as a writer and researcher. She has a PhD in Film and Television Studies from the University of Warwick. She believes that by bringing together many stories and diverse voices we can understand, analyse and create change.

Lauren, one of the People’s Voice Media Community Reporters

Sally is co-chair of the National Coproduction Advisory Group (NCAG) and the Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) partnership. She is a member of the TLAP board where she represents the interests of people who use services and carers, but more importantly she cares for several members of her family. She truly believes that the happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of anything.

A photo of Sally, one of the People’s Voice Media Community Reporters

Isaac is a passionate community development worker and co-chair of the National Coproduction Advisory Group and the Think Local Act Personal partnership. Isaac is a member of the TLAP board where he represents the interests of people who access health and social care services and their carers. More importantly, Isaac has managed through personalised approaches to have a life full of fun, opportunity, hopes and dreams, and achieving his aspirations while being a mental health service survivor. He believes that through co-production you can achieve anything; it’s all about the conditions you create.

Isaac is one of the People’s Voice Media Community Reporters

Your turn!

So, how do you get involved in this storytelling campaign? Just have a read of Lizzie’s earlier blog where she provides all the relevant information and get in touch with us either on Twitter or by sending us an email (coproduction@ucl.ac.uk).

We want to hear about an experience of co-production – anytime, anywhere, with anyone. It’s totally up to you what you want to share. The best stories are those told in your own words, so it’s totally up to you in what form you choose to share it. You could:

  • record a short video clip of yourself
  • record an audio clip
  • write it down
  • draw or paint it
  • …. use any other creative way you can think of!

If you have any questions about this project or about co-production and the work of the Centre, leave a comment below or email it to Rory at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk

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