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How can we use co-production to promote anti-racism?

08 July 2021
By Arjun Malhotra. Involvement and Participation Manager at Migrant Help

Charities and the social care sector don’t exist in a vacuum. Our good deeds haven’t made us insusceptible to systemic racism and structural inequalities that tarnish society. Be it the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on ethnic minorities, the unveiling of the Government’s heavily criticised New Plan for Immigration and all that the Black Lives Matter protests highlighted – it is not difficult to see how much needs to be done to create a more inclusive and equal society.

Arjun Malhotra

There are a multitude of actions needed to promote anti-racism within organisations; the one I’m advocating for here is using co-production. Displaced people are often excluded from the service design process as we fear re-traumatisation and face challenges with capacity, managing expectations, cultural sensitivities and language barriers. We may question whether people truly know and understand what services they need, or we may not know where to begin. But designing services that may be based on a paternalistic and privileged view of the world will only get us so far and won’t address the power imbalance that is mirrored throughout society.

We at Migrant Help have just started on our co-production journey to develop better services by piloting a Lived Experience Advisory Panel with a group of refugees. We hope to find solutions to the participation challenges mentioned above by working in equal partnership and linking in closely with the charity sector. Some key insights so far to support power sharing and equal decision-making have included:

  • Having the right culture, structure and governance
  • Putting participant wellbeing above all else
  • Using creative techniques to support engagement
  • Being as accessible as possible
  • Recognising participation appropriately.

As part of National Co-production Week, we are launching a co-production page on our website with tips, links and guidance on how to co-produce services with displaced people. We would love this to be a collaborative space so please get in touch with your ideas and experiences. We haven’t got all the answers but hope you will join us in using the power of co-production to help deport racism – for good!

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