05 July 2021
By Anne Pridmore, SCIE Co-production Network
Dictionary definition = Co-production happens when the participation of people with lived experience is given equal importance to that of staff of the organisation they’re working with. Their input is given equal weight, including both design and the delivery of services or a project.
During the last 30 years I have sat on many committees both locally and nationally so I can honestly say I have had lots of experience. As a disabled woman I have found not only is participation difficult on an equal basis because of my gender but also because of my impairment.
Many organisations seek out disabled people to sit on their committees because it is part of their equality policy but have little or no regard for what co-production means. But let’s face it – it can look good on their policies and reports to say they included us.
I am in receipt of a Personal Budget from my Local Authority and about 15 years ago they asked me to sit on their Personalisation debate. Due to previous experiences I initially refused but the head of Personalisation hounded me and asked me to meet up with him in my local pub for coffee. He even brought his secretary with him. The meeting went something like this: “Anne – we would really appreciate your input and experiences as you have been in receipt of social care for many years. We feel we could benefit from your input and as a result you would be supporting other disabled people in their ambition to live independently!” Well who on earth could refuse an offer like that?
Just to say I lasted 12 months but when I realised that nothing had changed when they discussed the RAS – this is a way of determining how much social care you were entitled to – I made the decision to leave.
When co-production works it can feel very empowering. Because let’s face it, we all like to think we have made a difference. Working with/for SCIE I have always felt valued, as I have with Shaping Our Lives. Co-production can work but it needs the shift in thinking. Given the opportunity, ‘we’ can make a difference.