Jackie for Prime Minister

The start of our co-production journey at PSS

We think it’s important people have a voice and a choice about the support they get from us – and everything else, too.

So does Jackie, one of our ace co-production advisors, who uses our Making Days service in Liverpool. As she rightly says, ‘It’s not about what staff want, it’s about what service-users want.’ Jackie and other people we support came together with lots of our team in April for a series of workshops, to help us figure out what co-production (designing and running our services with the people we support as our equals) means to us at PSS, how we can do more of it and what we all need to aim for to make co-producing all of our services a reality.

Jackie is really passionate about making sure her voice and voices of other people we support are heard, and we’re so chuffed she’s going to be one of the people helping us make what we do even better. Here she is with her co-production partner Jo Hancock telling us more about her job and what co-production means to her:

Jo Hancock, our head of homes and communities, couldn’t wait to tell us how this co-production journey began and how she’s been so inspired by Jackie’s tenacity and commitment to the cause of empowering others…

Jackie for prime minister by Jo Hancock

So, it’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m getting ready to attend my first Board meeting since I joined PSS. I’m pretty anxious as I sit in the Zoom waiting room, which seems a bit daft really – it’s not like this is the first Board meeting I’ve ever attended in my life.  Maybe it’s because my co-production partner and I have given our presentation the title of, ‘Jackie, Jo and Harriet’s fabulous intro to co-production at PSS’ and I really want to make sure it is fabulous!  Or maybe it’s just because I’m worried about my dodgy Wi-Fi signal.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here, so let’s go back to when this all started… 

Six months ago, I was interviewed for my role with PSS.  Jackie was on the panel of people who use services, and — oh my word  —  did they put me through my paces!  The questions they had come up with were brilliant.  I can’t remember them all, but the two that really stuck in my head were, ‘How will you help me be heard?’ and ‘Tell us two things about you that will surprise us’.  It was Jackie who asked me the first of these, and it really got me thinking about the difference between doing with and doing for – Jackie wasn’t asking me to speak for her, but to make sure that her views were listened to.  If I’m honest I was still thinking about those questions when I (very excitedly) said yes to the job offer!   

Fast forward five months and I’m sat in a meeting discussing plans to embed co-production at PSS. Now it wasn’t really a big surprise, after all that’s pretty much what number one of the Big Plan themes is all about.  But what was surprising (and really exciting) was that I was being asked to find a co-production partner – someone who uses our services, who will work with me on the big stuff like designing and developing services, someone I can have really good conversations with, and who will make sure I really listen to the voices of people we support.  Well, obviously my thoughts went right back to that interview panel and Jackie!  It seemed somehow appropriate that the person who had asked me how I would help her be heard would be the person to make sure I did just that! 

Thankfully Jackie seemed just as excited about the idea as I was, and readily agreed to be my co-production partner.  So here we are, waiting to join the Board meeting and tell them all about our plans for co-production at PSS.  We’ve run through the presentation a couple of times – which has been a learning curve for both of us (and is probably why I’m worried about my dodgy Wi-Fi signal).  We’re proud of what we’ve put together – hence Jackie inserting ‘fabulous’ into the title – and hopefully the Board will like it too… 

And we’re in!  Everyone gets introduced, and Harriet starts the presentation.  I do the ‘theory’ bit – explaining that co-production is about coming together to find shared solutions, and involves people who use services being consulted, included and working together from the start to the end of any project that affects them. When co-production works best, people who use services and carers are valued by organisations as equal partners, can share power and have influence over decisions made. 

And then it’s time for Jackie to take the stage, telling everyone why this is so important to her.  She absolutely smashes it!  She is confident, articulate and passionate.  I ask her what she would say to people who think we might not be ready for this just yet.  Quick as a flash she replies ‘You might not be ready, but we are!’ which is when the comment, ‘Jackie for Prime Minister’ pops up in the chat. 

That is the moment when I suddenly realise I’m not anxious anymore, because that is the moment I know for certain that her voice is being heard. 

Supported by a PSS service and want to find out more about becoming a co-production partner? Contact comms@pss.org.uk.