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Co-Pro Stories: Exploring Lived Experiences of Co-production

By Lizzie, on 3 February 2021

Our brand new report explores what the experiences of 15 co-producers from the Co-Production Collective community can tell us about co-production. Coming from different backgrounds and perspectives, their individual stories come together to provide insights about the value of co-production in practice.

We’re really excited to share our first official report – Co-Pro Stories: Exploring Lived Experiences of Co-production – in partnership with our friends People’s Voice Media.

Stories have the power to bring us together, help us understand each other, celebrate what we have in common and embrace our differences – just like co-production. This report brings together co-production stories from members of our community to explore what their combined experiences and perspectives can tell us about co-production: what it is, what it feels like, and what it can achieve.

Each storyteller was interviewed over Zoom or on the phone by Lauren, Sally or Isaac, Community Reporters from People’s Voice Media. Community Reporting is a movement which showcases people’s stories, in their own voices, as tools for social and cultural change. It also involves the storytellers themselves in the sense-making process, generating more meaningful – co-produced – insights.

Sarifa is wearing a colourful headscarf in front of a window. The Co-Production Collective logo is on screen by her

Meet Sarifa, one of our storytellers

Our storytellers come from different sectors, work on different projects and participate in different ways, but all share the identity of ‘co-producers’. After their individual interviews, they came together in a workshop to collaboratively draw out the learning their stories contained, highlighting common themes and what they felt was important.

If you joined our launch in October last year, you might remember seeing clips of some of the interviews and hearing from Anna, one of our storytellers, who shared her experience of participating in the project.

“The entire process was incredibly collaborative…. I felt that what I wanted to say was really heard and incorporated into the fabric of the stories. I came out of the sense-making workshops feeling that I had learnt so much from others’ experiences and that it could inform what I do going forward too.”

What do the Co-Pro Stories tell us?   

The report covers what co-production means to our storytellers, the challenges they’ve faced and the benefits they’ve seen as a result. It also explores how Co-Production Collective’s core values – human, inclusive, transparent and challenging – are reflected in their experiences.

The four Co-Pro Collective values - human, inclusive, transparent and challenging - are shown in an extract of the report

Co-Production Collective’s core values in practice

The three key findings from the report are:

  • Co-production should be approached as a practice governed by a set of values, rather than an exact science or process.
  • Co-production can bring real value to research projects and be key to ensuring that services are more effective and better meet the needs of the people who access them.
  • Co-production can be challenging but with support and encouragement, embracing continual and shared learning and by creating spaces for co-producers to connect, barriers can be overcome.

Tell me more!

Intrigued? Please have a read Co-Pro Stories: Exploring Lived Experiences of Co-production for yourself.

There is also a longer version which goes into more detail, including reflections on putting co-production into practice, what co-producing actually feels like, and hopes for the future of co-production.

The future of co-production is written above a black and white photo of lots of people in Zoom squares, participating in an online workshop. Underneath them are three headings - support, learning and spaces

An image from the report

Accompanying the report are video or audio extracts from each of our storytellers’ interviews – check out the playlist (they will take pride of place on our new website soon…).

We hope that the findings from the report and interviews will be useful to anyone who is interested in, doing or learning about co-production – they’re certainly going to be informing our work together as Co-Production Collective.  Please share them, use them, and let us know what you think on Twitter or by emailing us at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk.

We’d love for these Co-Pro Stories to help others in their co-production journeys too.

Thank you

Finally, we’d like to say a big thank you to the People’s Voice Media team for putting this report together, but most importantly to our storytellers – Anna, Annie, Darren, Ian, Jacq, Keith, Laura, Lynn, Michelle, Nicola, Sarah, Sarifa, Simon, Scott and Vicky. By sharing their lived experiences, they are supporting all of us to champion co-production to create lasting change.


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