Dialogue interview focusing on co-production.

Hello. Uh, if you'd like to tell us your name and maybe something about yourself. Um, my name is Sarah, and I love doing fast and scary things such as not climbing and going on the back of my partner's motorbike. Skydiving when I get the chance

Oh, my God. OK, It's always the quiet ones. I really was not expecting that

Ok, uh, and can you tell us? Well, let's talk about like, the day we've had at the coproduction festival. What were your thoughts before you came? I was just Yeah. So, um, I know a few of the people who've helped to coordinate the day and had some good chats at a conference recently up in Sheffield

Um, as soon as I heard that this was happening, I was like, I've gotta be there. Um, so I've come today and just got amongst it and joined in with as much as I can, and it's been really great. Er anything surprise you, uh, the amount that they were able to fit into the day and all the different stuff that was going on simultaneously, Um, it felt like it would be really chaotic or kind of overcrowding or overlapping

But it wasn't and it all worked really well together. And it was really nice that people had options of things that they could choose to be involved with, that they felt drawn towards or interested in. Um, it's a really nice mix of, like, creative stuff, musical stuff, artistic, talky stuff for people that like talking, um, and some good think and reflect the sort of stuff as well

So it's not a very clinical space, is it? How do you think that impacted on you and everyone else today? Um, I mean, we were just saying a minute ago how like one of the first things when you walk through the door this morning was the name badge thing. So, um, make your own name badge. Mine's got lovely smiley faces and feathers on it, and I use lots of different colour pens to write my name

Um, and even that in itself is like a welcome activity as you walk through the door, kind of just created that immediate feeling of quality. Um, of like, shared power. Um, nobody was asking anybody their job titles

Um, I don't think many people have even used their surname on on the name tag. So it was very much just by me and you, you and that just immediately took it away from feeling clinical or professional in any way. It was just about people being together and that that's really special

I think that's really what's really brought the quality of the day today. How would that compare to a lot of other things you might have to go to in your working life? I think, um, yeah, I. I work in the health and social care space quite a bit

Um, I do some community development stuff as well, but I would say predominantly health and social care, which is very professional orientated. Um, often it's very, um, medical model professional gift model. If you've ever come across that as the thought like a horrific Yeah, the idea that professionals know what's best for you, and they give your support or services to you, and you're a passive recipient of that

And I think what we're seeing here today is much more in the citizenship space where everyone is citizens together, and everybody can co create or individually create what their life should be like and how How they want to function in the space in the community with other people. And that feels much more like the kind of world I want to live in. It's him

Yeah. And so, uh, have you had a chance to, like, mingle and chat to a few people? Yeah. What kind of conversations? You had lots of stuff

I think the people, quite naturally, I think, fall into the conversation of So where do you come from? Where do you work? What's your job? And I've just tried to dodge that as much as possible and just talk about being in the space together, because I think I'm finding that much more interesting. Um, so I've talked to people who we would call lived experience experts, people who are drawing on services and support systems to be able to live their lives and and get on with life and and just hearing and understanding their experiences, but also like flipping the narrative with it and actually sitting on the other side of that and experiencing what that feels like as well. So I had a social care assessment

The care act social care assessment done to me could you just describe it slightly like what happened? Yes. So it was a genuine local authority care act assessment format that was used. And the person who was assessing me was playing the role of the social worker, uh, in a manner which they had experienced themselves receiving a correct assessment

And I was the person receiving the assessment in in the role play. Um, so I didn't I didn't have much of a brief. We just started talking and the person assessing me launched into the social worker role and started going through their form and asking their questions

It felt very impersonal. It felt intrusive. Um, I wasn't informed about my rights or my choices

I was told what I could have and what would happen. I wasn't given any time to process the information or reflect on what I wanted to say. And if I took too long, we moved on to the next question

Um, so how did that feel? I was raging. Raging? Yeah, a really powerful experience to go through, actually, because I work in that sector and I spend a lot of time delivering training and consultancy around that subject, but to actually experience that as a full process, Um, and experience what those feelings must be like for the people that actually have to go through it in real life was quite eye opening. Actually, I was I was feeling so you wouldn't call it a so you wouldn't say it was a human process? Not at all

It's not human. And the plan was just staged. How would it feel if that was in your own home? Oh, I would imagine the social worker would end up cutting the assessment short because I wouldn't be able to probably control my emotional response to the situation in in in the truth

I think for somebody to come into your home and make those assumptions about you in your life and the people in your life and to dictate what your life is going to look like going forward because you may be eligible for some social care support is just, um, scary. Actually, it's very scary. Um, and I suppose there could be potential consequences for people who don't just play nice with these people who come into their homes

Yeah, Yeah, absolutely. Well, the person ends up getting labelled. Don't they

As a result of that, they do have an emotional response, and that stays with them because it stays on the notes on the system. Um, as we all know, people very rarely have a long term social worker allocated to them. So it's it's you know, once that assessment has been completed, it will get recorded on the system

Somebody else will pick it up later on, and the information that has been noted about your behaviour, your willingness to cooperate, being difficult or whatever. You know, however, it's worded that that stays with you, whoever works with you next and looks at your notes, and that's really unfair because there's no narrative behind why that happened or what it was about. Um, and there's nothing relational about it, nothing whatsoever

Relational about it. It's a transactional process designed for determining eligibility and nothing else, and often in it's. It's also about rationing the resource to meet that eligibility as well

So as soon as you start thinking about rationing stuff, you immediately have to dictate what people can and can't have, and people are squeezed into boxes. Because of that, people are reduced to survival rather than living a real life, and that's really sad. And state

I didn't like it. No, I didn't like it. Um, and I can laugh about it because I can go home now to my life, and I don't need to worry about a social worker walking into my front door tomorrow or the next day

But one day I might need support. And if that happens, it's quite scary to think that that's what I'm going to experience. Yeah, well, I don't want to end on raging or sad, so I want you to tell me we'll say the best

But if if there's a two or three, then it just you your best parts of the day or your favourite takeaway. I mean, everything I've got involved in all day long has been fantastic, and I've got loads out of it. I think my big light bulb moment, um, was doing one of the workshops, um, which was called making a Mark

And it was, um, using drawing as an activity, Really, I think to demonstrate co production, and it was really interesting because I have quite a weird internal response to it. And then I reflected on that so that was kind of fascinating. Um, So we sat in a circle, we were all given a piece of paper and a pencil, and then we were given a set of instructions to follow

Um, the task was to draw a face, but it was broken down into stages. And so, at each stage of the task, we needed to look, think and draw. And the looking and thinking was maybe 5, 10 seconds

And then we were given three seconds to draw. Once we've done the looking and thinking each time. So that's quite a you know, you feel quite panicked because you've got to get your idea down on paper very quickly

And at each stage of the process, you just drew one element of the face. So we started off with the shape of the head. And then we passed our drawing to the person to the right of us

And then we received the drawing from the person to the left of us. And then we did the next stage, which was the eyes and so on until we got a complete face. And as we were passing the paper around each time I have this real feeling of

I don't want somebody to draw on my picture and they're not going to draw it. The way I see it in my head, it's gonna look different because it's their drawing and not my drawing. And then I reflected on that, and it was just like a really powerful light bulb

We because I was like, That's co production. And that's why it's really hard to embed co production because often the people with the power who are doing the production really, really don't feel comfortable sharing power with others. They don't want to share their drawing

They don't want other people to draw on their picture. They don't want other people to bring their ideas and create a different shape to what they have in their head of how something should look and that that was my big light bulb moment and I was just like, Ah, so so after I reflected on that for a few minutes. The takeaway was actually authentic

Coproduction doesn't work unless the people leading it have experienced it themselves because you can't make something happen. You can't embed a culture change and a different way of doing unless you feel it and you experience it yourself and say, Yeah, that's my big takeaway. Today was a mic drop that was brilliant

Thank you so much, Sarah. And I'm glad it's been such an awesome day for all of us. Thank you very much


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