It’s Co-production Week 2017!

We’re taking part in Co-production Week, which takes place 3 July – 7 July, so we’d like to tell you a little bit about how we make co-production happen at PSS.

What is co-production, anyway?

‘Co-production’ is about people who use services and people who run services working together as a team. It’s about everyone being equal, and about people who use services having a say on what happens and when.

Here at PSS, we think that’s really important. The people who use our services have a say and get involved in as many things as possible; you guys are the reason we do what we do and you play a huge part in making sure we’re doing things right.

So, to celebrate Co-production Week, here are some of the great ways we work together:

Designing our services together

Everyone experiences life differently and we want our services to help everyone we meet as much as we can. That’s why we like to work together with people who use our services; to understand what life’s like through their eyes, make sure we’re getting things right, and do things to help.

The Making Days Committee is made up of the people who use our Making Days service. They meet up every month to talk about all things Making Days and what activities they would like to see happen. They have recently organised an election for Chair and other positions on the committee, which everyone who uses the service voted in.

Parents and carers of the people who use our Making Days service also get together once per quarter. They are treated to presentations and talks from our fab Making Days service-users and answer questions, discuss how things are going, share information and give us their ideas.

Over in Wales, we have a big meeting with some of our service-users at the beginning of each year, to talk about all the things we can get up to over the course of the year. Some people we work with are involved in other organisations, like Mind, and they tell us about any local events we can attend as a big group. Similar meetings also take place in our Midlands office.

Telling our stories

Storytelling is a great way for everyone to learn – it helps us learn about each other, about the world and about what can be done to help.

Putting pen to paper

Our Grandparents Group is made up of some of the grandparents who take care of children using our Family Impact services. Each month these super-grans, nans and grandads get together to support each other and influence how we provide support with our services. They talk about their own life stories and introduce the service to welcome new grandparents into the group. This support has inspired the group to work with a writing company to produce a ‘What’s your story’ book, that will include a number of short stories about their past experiences, their achievements, their struggles, and how life has changed for them. When it’s published, the group hopes it will support other families in similar circumstances and help others to understand the difficulties they face.

Lights, camera, action!

Film is a great, creative way we work together and express ourselves.

The young people who use our Young Carers service helped us to write a bid to the Youth Fund in Sefton. As a result, they were awarded some money to produce this fantastic film, together with a company called Collective Encounters, about what it feels like to be a young carer and how the Young Carers group has helped them.

Our communications team are also busy planning an exciting new film project with service-users at Making Days. We’re gathering a team of people to direct, film, produce and star in a film about the service through their eyes. We all hope it’ll give people looking to join in with the service a really good look at all the fun stuff that goes on and some of the fab people they’ll meet – like Jackie, who we’ll talk about next.

Using our voices

Jackie, who uses our services at Making Days South, was supported by one of our lovely student social workers to find out more about Williams Syndrome, a condition she lives with. Jackie made a brilliant presentation about what she learned, and gave a talk to parents and carers during one of our ‘Keeping in touch’ meetings. She then came along to our Liverpool offices where she drew a big audience of PSS People and some social workers who were visiting us from America, completely packing out the staff room.

Jackie is really enjoying her new-found talent for public speaking and is available to visit you and educate you on this fascinating subject – just give the guys at Making Days South a ring.

Building our team

At PSS, we only invite big-hearted, open-minded, determined, professional and genuine people to come and be on our team. Our service-users know exactly what type of people would make good carers/support workers/family workers/therapists and managers because they work with them all the time – so we often invite them to come and be part of interview panels, to help make sure our potential new team members are right for us; no matter how senior or experienced the person is.

Asking all the right questions

Team Wales (which is what we like to call our small but mighty PSS Wales team) have worked with the people who use their services to come up with a list of important questions. Whenever the team needs to interview a new staff member, they get in touch with a group of individuals who are regularly available to take part, and between them, the group choose which questions they want to ask from the list, and come up with their own extra ones, too. We think PSS People are all pretty special which tells us one thing – our service users make great judges of character.

Being there for each other

We’ve learned that when people going through similar things support each other, great things can happen. Many of our services offer the opportunity for people on similar journeys to come together and share their experiences, make friends and help each other out.

Together for mental health

The amazing team of Wellbeing specialists at our Wellbeing Centres have supported the people who use our services to develop and run a wide range of fabulous peer support groups. Our peer support groups give people the opportunity to share their thoughts, emotions and experiences in a safe, non-judgmental environment, making friends and supporting each other on their wellbeing journeys.  Some of our peer support groups involve getting involved in activities, like poetry, arts and crafts, drama or gardening. Others involve simply getting together with like-minded people for a cup of tea and a chat about the things affecting each group – like taking care of your wellbeing as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, living with bipolar disorder or hearing voices/experiencing visions or similar unusual experiences. We think this is a stellar example of co-production.

Sharing and caring

In Wales, we run a service called Shared Days, which offers support for people with dementia. Shared Days works by introducing two people who share similar interests and are living with dementia. Facilitated by one of our team, the pair are then able to get out and about and do the things they enjoy together – allowing them to support each other through friendship and shared experiences.

Growing together

Sharing activities brings us all close together – and having something to show from our co-production makes it all the sweeter, especially when it’s a delicious crop of strawberries from Dutch Farm.

Dutch Farm is an allotment ran by a group of people who use our Making Days North service, and some of our fantastic green-fingered volunteers. Everyone in the Dutch Farm group gets their very own raised bed, and the group work together to decide which crops are grown and which tasks need completing each day.

The guys at Dutch Farm have also recently worked with Chester Zoo to provide a Wildlife Champions course, which involved service users from both Making Days North and Making Days South. Safe to say it was a roaring success (sorry).

More about Co-production Week

To find out more about co-production, what it is and how to do it, and to hear more great stories celebrating Co-production Week, visit SCIE’s website.