Co-Production Learning Disabilities & Autism Real Lives

Co-producing lives of opportunity

Claire's first day

At Camphill Village Trust, a charity for adults with learning and other disabilities, co-production is ever evolving but always central to our approach. Not only does a co-productive way of working help achieve the best possible outcomes for the people involved, it brings greater levels of inspiration for ideas to develop and flourish for the benefit of everyone.

Across the Trust the genuine impact that everyone can make in the communities and places that they live is transformational. The projects differ from place to place because it’s always led by the people using their unique skills and experiences, co-creating new opportunities not only in their own lives but also for many others.

Spreading kindness and tackling real issues

In St Albans, the co-production group have branded themselves the Kindness Crew and are actively seeking opportunities to share their energy and passions with other community groups. For example, they have made a link with Age Concern where they are hosting Care Home Karaoke sessions. In addition to having fun they are promoting wellbeing through shared activity and tackling isolation through new friendships.

Aimee, a Kindness Crew member said, ‘Being part of the Crew helps me with my emotions, I always feel rewarded and leave sessions with the feeling of being useful, busy and positive.’

The Crew are always looking to make new connections so they can do even more to help the people of St Albans benefit from their collective energy. The latest idea is to collect and distribute hygiene items to people and groups who would benefit from them.

Feeling valued and finding your ‘happy place’

Also in Hertfordshire and in partnership with supermarket chain Co-op, people have been taking on supported Community Internships in stores which gives participants a valuable working experience developing new skills that will aid progression into paid or voluntary work.

Co-op Community Intern, Claire commented, ‘The Co-op is my happy place. By helping the customers, I feel useful, and the team makes me feel valued and part of something. I love going to work and I look forward to it!’.

The Co-op have been wonderfully supportive, and we are looking forward to working with them on more projects like this across the country.

Being an active part of the community

Wellbeing is often a theme in the co-production projects across the Trust. In Gloucestershire one such project looks to make the link between ‘Healthy People in a Healthy World’. People sharing their experiences to influence how support and services are developed across the county through engaging the local community in finding creative solutions for the benefit of everyone. To help in this the people supported by the Charity developed a set of ‘I’ statements sharing what a ‘Life of Opportunity’ means to them. A theme running through the statements is the need to be an active part of the community, fully involved and connected with others.

Taking care of the world!

Being connected and working with others is fundamental to co-production. In Middlesbrough the Voices of Larchfield group have been supporting young people leaving the care system to have a very special Christmas and working with the local police force to help them develop information and strategies for dealing with hate crime.

Next up on their agenda is to become more carbon aware and they are in the process of commissioning a training course so they can become carbon ambassadors, helping everyone at Larchfield Community (and beyond) to reduce their carbon footprint.

Beryl from Larchfield said, ‘Its important to look after the world, we all need it and we all live in it, we are doing what we can to help ourselves and others to take care of the world.’

In Camphill Village Trust we know that through embracing a coproductive culture the opportunities are limitless and the future is very exciting.




Edel Harris





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