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#CoProLive: getting creative with co-production

By Niccola, on 26 October 2020

Leading up to the Launch Event of our Centre (now known as Co-Production Collective) on 22 October, we hosted #CoProLive – a festival of great co-production from 19 – 21 October with sessions hosted by WhoseShoes and Be More Pirate, as well as our own CoProCuppa. Mandy and Mark from the launch organising team give us the low down!

Creative Co-production – by Mandy

I have often heard people say: ‘you can’t coproduce everything’. That may be true but if you don’t have a go, you will never know (ooh – that rhymes!).

As part of our launch festival we decided to call on the great coproduction experience of Gill Phillips, founder of ‘Whose shoes?’.

The image reads 'Whose shoes?' with various coloured Croc shoes underneath

The Whose Shoes? logo

Whose Shoes?® is an exciting approach, allowing you to ‘walk in other people’s shoes’. Through a very wide range of scenarios and techniques it helps you to explore many of the concerns and challenges facing the different groups affected by health and social care. This ability is vital in the coproduction of research – to ensure we research what matters to people.

We planned a workshop called ‘Creative Co-production’, in which we hoped to co-produce a poem, live!! This inspired me to dust off my creative grey cells and I wrote a cathartic poem about the stressful time my son and I had experienced when he was a child being treated for Cystic Fibrosis. Following a flurry of Twitter activity leading up to the session, which provided us with some great verses to start with, we launched into the session with some trepidation. Would people want to try this? How would we capture their generous contributions?

We need not have feared! 933 words later we had a co-produced poem, highlighting themes including:
– Shared decision making – or lack of
– Communication
– Language
– Inclusion/exclusion.

Here is the extract that I read out at the launch. If you would like a copy of the whole poem please feel free to email us at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk

I’m sure I know what’s best for me
You say that it’s my choice
I’ve told you time and time again
You did not hear my voice
We promote best practice, diversity – of course – inclusion
We’d rather accessibility remains an illusion.
Accommodating your needs would lack proportionality,
Wake up, smell the coffee, accept this daily reality.
Of course we want to hear from a different perspective
But we’ll choose when, it’s our right to be selective.
I’m speaking and I think you’re listening, you’re nodding your head and making encouraging noises.
But then you speak and you are answering the question you wish I’d asked, not the question I did.
It’s like you didn’t hear anything I said. Why do doctors do this?
Another acronym to aid communication, another acronym.. does not serve much purpose, Only confuses the nation, blurs interpretation, and stifles imagination
Oh Acronyms… where art thou common sense!
You told me it was some kind of ‘shared decision’, you mumbling nonsense at me like some blonde haired politician.
Language takes many forms, never think in terms of ‘norms’.

Co-production – Lessons from the Golden Age of Piracy – By Mark

Following on from a great Co-pro Cuppa on the Tuesday of #CoProLive week, where we discussed a wide range of co-production related topics whilst enjoying a relaxed cuppa, we moved on to the Be More Pirate session – Lessons from the Golden Age of Piracy – on Wednesday.

An image that says 'Be More Pirate' in black on a bright pink background

The Be More Pirate logo

When I knew that a session was being planned, I have to admit the concept of ‘being more pirate’ baffled me.  Was it just an excuse to dress up and place a parrot on my shoulder with an obligatory bottle of rum? No, the session was extremely well thought out – the presenters absolutely knew their stuff and I was in a room where we had actual people who had been practicing Piracy for many years. It was very new to me so I did do some digging beforehand and got hold of the two Kindle books by Sam Conniff ‘Be More Pirate’ and ‘How to be More Pirate‘ (written with Alex Barker). I haven’t finished them yet, but this wasn’t necessary for the session as Ship’s Captain Cat took us on a  great journey exploring the concept.

Mark's Zoom screensaver with his photo and name tag that reads: Jolly Roger Dale

Mark’s Zoom screensaver

I even changed my name in the Zoom call, as did many others. I became Jolly Roger Dale and even had the ‘Jolly Roger’ Flag flying. The concept (which is easier to now get my head around) is that Pirates were not in fact swash-buckling, walk the plank, rum drinking types. They actually co-produced their own ways of living within their community – rights and entitlements were a given and the pirate community cared for those less able. Women were equal and traditionally excluded communities were accepted, including same sex unions and marriage. The myths of Hollywood were dispelled.

Thank you so much to Gill and Colin from Whose Shoes? and Cat, Isaac and Naomi for putting on the Be More Pirate session – you really set up things for the launch event on the Thursday!


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