Charlotte shares her experience of coproducing resources around eating disorders, Charlotte shares have organisations and personal experience of how beneficial coproduction is when developing things for people in communities. 

Not only does it enable you to get it right the first time it really makes a difference!

people. Um, would you like to introduce yourself? Uh, yeah. My name's Charlotte Lawrence. Um, I work for an organisation called the Sun Network

Um, but I've also got my own, you know, personal lived experience of mental health challenges. Um, and co-production Cool. Thank you

Could you tell me, um, what your organisation does? Yeah. So, um, a network are based in Rishi, and we amplify the voice of people with lived experience, um, of mental health challenges or drug and alcohol challenges or and drug alco changes. Um, and we make sure that they're involved throughout, like, commissioning services and and and throughout the services locally, um, to have their say and to be involved in co-production and different opportunities across the across the system

Thank you. So I was wondering if you could share with me an experience that you've had of cop producing. Yeah

Um, So I recently took, um, a lead on a project that we did for eating disorders. Um, that's where my personal experience is from. I had an eating disorder

Um, I'm in recovery now. So, um, I was asked to lead on this project and we were asked by the commissioners to create some literature. Some, you know, information leaflets for people accessing the new eating disorder services across country and Peterborough

So we, um, reached out to people and asked if they would like to get involved, Uh, other people with lived experience and also carers. And we worked together with these individuals, um, at different workshops and with the professionals to create these literature. They've got posters, and there's booklets and online work

So we worked together throughout that process, and, um, just created it all together. Everything was made, every decision was made together, you know, and we shared our experiences within that. So what? Uh, changes

Did you see or what difference did working in this way, Um, make to the project. Um, I think it was really open and honest. I think, um, for start the individuals really valued the fact that I had my lived experience and that I wasn't just this professional

It kind of breaks down the barriers as well for people accessing opportunities because they know that I get it on a personal level. Um, it also helped. I'd like to say get it right

First time you haven't had to go back to the drawing board and start all over again. The commissioners are happy with it. It's been recognised across the country by NHS England

So it just amplifies to me that it we did it right. And it was the right decision to work in that way. And as sometimes challenging as it can be because of, you know, time constraints or other priorities, it did work, and it produced a very good thing that everyone was happy with and and the majority of people were really, you know, pleased with

Do you think you would have been able to be so successful if you did it? Hadn't co-produced. Um I think it could have been challenging, and we might not have put it right. Um, so it would have been, you know, maybe going back to the drawing board or starting again or having to reconcile and things like that

So it yeah, it could have been, um, more challenging. But I think as as amazing as Co-production is, it can't always happen. But I think in this instance it worked really well and we made the time for it

We had the money for it, you know, so it it worked. Thank you. So I'm wondering about, um, your perception and your behaviours

So did your behaviours or or your perception of coproduction change? Um, as a result of cop producing this project, Um, I think I got a better understanding on it. My organisation are really, um, keen for co-production. We've created our own co-production training, everything like that

But this was my first, um, experience of leading the coproduction because obviously, you have to have a facilitator and things. So it was challenging to manage everything, and there's a lots of different things you have to think about, but I think it helped me realise how important and how, um vital co-production is. I think for me, that's the way of working

So I think it helped solidify that for me. How did working in a way make you feel, um, it made me feel valued, Um, as an individual, not just as a staff member. It made me feel empowered, really? To not only encourage other people to get involved and have their say, but also to have my say that that was welcomed

Um, yeah, it just felt really motivational. Um, because it felt professionally personal, if that makes sense, so because I'm passionate about it anyway, that passion was reciprocated by these individuals who were involved throughout, you know, service providers and commissioners as well. So it was really rewarding

Um, and that that is like my favourite piece of work. I think I've done since working here. Oh, that's great

So what value would you say? Coproduction has, um, I think it has a huge value. I think it helps with funding. I think it helps, you know, get it right

First time. Like I said, um, so it helps with the finances. I think it helps the individuals at the end of the service or who are accessing services

Because somewhere in the co-production process, someone with lived experience has considered what it's like. And professionals are considering what it's like for individuals accessing the service and they're being thought about. And they're being considered more because you've got lived experience in the team and you've got lived experience there

So I think it's only gonna help individuals accessing the service, which is what you wanna do at the end of the day. That's what services are there for. So I think it's got a huge value

And you've already started talking about this. So thinking about the project that you were involved in what, um, impact do you think it has on people organisations and or society in it, you know? Yeah, I know. Um, yeah

So we asked individuals that were involved, um, in the co production process, just to feedback about their experience and to, you know, give some testimony, this kind of thing. And they said, um, they're very honest, so they wouldn't just sugarcoat it. But they said that they really valued the experience and and had they have been accessed in a service Now with this information, they said that would have helped them so much more into accessing, accessing treatment or or services into working towards recovery and having a positive mindset

So it helps those individuals accessing things. Now the service is it kind of takes a load off because all this information is there. They can just signpost people to this one place is one website and they've got everything that they could possibly need and then obviously links with, you know, medical services and, you know, community services

So it kind of takes that load off because everything's in one place, um, and then society as a whole. I think we're talking about eating disorders more and having this information out there, and we're trying to promote it, you know, other services are promoting it. People are promoting it

So because there's that passion there from everyone, it's being heard about more. And it's challenging stigma, and it's raising awareness. And I think that couldn't always happen without co-production because so many people are involved in the process

People are invested and people are willing to make change. So I think that's hopefully that answers your question. It does

And do you have any like tips? Um, top tips or Yeah, um, that's a good question. Um, I think allowing time for co-production I think it needs to be written into contracts and, you know, tenders and things like that early on that co-production has to happen from the very top. So that that is filtered down for those individuals that are working, you know, with the public and everything, Um, and that it's valued and that people really see the impact of co-production and talk about it more not just as a tick box, not just as a one off as a genuine call for action

I think the intent is there, but not necessarily the time or the funding. So that needs to happen. Um, and I think just talking about co-production and saying push him back

You know, you put these deadlines, but that's not reasonable if you want co-production to happen. So I think, Yeah. And I think being positive about it as well, I think obviously there's barriers

There's barriers to everything. But the positivity that can come from coproduction has outweighs the barriers, the benefits, you know, they're just so much more important than the barrier sometimes. So, yeah, just those, I think

Thank you. So, did you have anything else you wanted to share with me about your journey with with co-production? Um, I think, you know, I hope people understand how important co production is. And I think it's great that you're, you know, doing this work to help that, um I just hope that people Yeah, see the see the benefits and don't fall into this trap of Oh, we have to have lived experienced people

We have to have this person. It's just a case of offering the opportunity to whoever wants to get involved, you know? And that is amazing. And and like I said before, co production can't always happen

And that's OK. But the effort and the and the time and the money and things need to be invested in so that it can happen in the future. Cool

Thank you. I don't have any more questions, so I'm gonna stop the recording there, if that's OK.

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