Co-production week 2018: it’s always better together

It’s Co-Production week 2 – 6 July. Here’s a little bit about how we make co-production happen at PSS.

What do we mean when we say ‘co-production’?

‘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:

Learning from the experts

Everyone’s unique, and we all experience life differently. That’s why we like to work together with the experts, the people who use our services; to try our best 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.

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 the people who use our Making Days 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 the people who user our service 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.

Our Together for Parents and Baby Wellness group is made up of a gang of parents and comes together four times per year to talk about our Parent and Baby Wellness service. We run any changes to our service past them first, and together, we come up with ideas for new parent and baby support groups.

Building our team

At PSS, we only invite big-hearted, open-minded, determined, professional and genuine people to come and be on our team. The people who use our services 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.

 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.

Getting creative

The Making Days South Drama Group is made up of a team of talented actors and singers who meet regularly to express themselves through drama and dance. Once a year, the group teams up with support workers at our Making Days South service to choreograph a production, sell tickets and perform two shows. Each member of the group attends our Making Days South service. This year, the group performed A Night At The Movies; a whistle-stop musical tour through loads of movie classics from the last fifty years. All proceeds from ticket sales went to MacMillan.

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.


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 team at Dutch Farm are also responsible for loads of other fun outside of the gardening world. In October last year, the team got into the spooky spirit for Halloween, and worked together to transform the farm into ‘Dutch Farmageddon’ – complete with pumpkin patches, ghost walks and a witch’s lair.


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 peer support groups. These 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 things 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 – for example, 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’re about to launch Dutch Barn, a rather snazzy new building at Dutch Farm, where groups like these can come together in a shared space, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.


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.