Chat Co-Production Learning Disabilities & Autism Real Lives

Unity in co-production

Unity is a co-production group in Achieve together, a support provider for people with learning disabilities and/or autistic people. We work together on different projects in our organisation. We will tell you how we started our group.

At the very beginning we, Mary and Mark decided to learn about co-production and do a conference. We wanted to tell other people in Achieve together what co-production meant. We invited different people supported by Achieve together from different regions who were interested in co-production. Before we did the conference, we went up to our Head Office to prepare for the conference.  We planned the day of the conference, our presentations and what we were going to do. The day before the conference we went up to Newbury and we planned out how the conference should be for the next day and made the materials we needed.

On the day we welcomed our guests and told them about co-production. We watched a video of co-production and what co-production means. We spoke about the ladder of co-production – the different stages of inclusion. There are seven different stages of inclusion. People were grouped on different tables and had a different scenario which they needed to act out according to a particular step of the ladder. We did some teamwork games and role-playing. We spoke about how we could use co-production in Achieve together. We told people our idea – to form a co-production group in Achieve together. We invited people to be part of the group and explained the purpose of the group. At the end of the day we asked everyone to write one thing they would do to make sure that co-production happens. We would then email them three months later to remind them of their commitment.

All people who were interested were invited to our first co-production group meeting. We decided together how the group would work. We spoke about ideas and topics that we could bring up. We asked people to name the group. We all came up with different names and voted for the best name – Unity, which means that people supported by Achieve together work as a united team with other team members. We spoke about what different departments do, so that we could decide what to focus on.

Since then, we have helped with many projects in Achieve together, such as making a video about keeping healthy and fit, focus groups about keeping our information safe, helping plan and do training, making new documents, doing presentations at conferences, helping with newsletters and more. We are helping with planning and writing different sections in the Impact Report. We also delivered training about learning disabilities and autism to the board of investors. We are creating a cartoon to promote co-production. We wrote, drew and voiced everything ourselves. We get paid to work in Unity.

Co-production means team members and people supported working together to achieve new outcomes. It can be used in recruitment, support planning or anywhere. It means discussing things and working together. Working together is important so that you can share ideas. We are all equals together; we have equal rights. People should listen to our ideas when making decisions about our support, because they are to do with us. We would like co-production in the future to be used even more everywhere, in Head Office, every single home and online in apps. People should be very involved in their own support and the best type of involvement is co-production.

Written by Mary, Mark and Ben from co-production group Unity, Achieve together.

Edel Harris

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