Patrick shares his personal experiences of coproduction, the impact it has had on his life. How is lived experience makes a difference, and the impact of working coproductively with a range of partner organisations. Patrick also talks about the value of creativity in relation to coproduction. 

OK, so, um, my name's Patrick Turner. Um, I'm the engagement worker for the Elephants Trail project, which uses coal production as a means of trying to address severe and multiple disadvantage. Hoping to bring about a bit of system change by driving on our lived experience, which many of us possess through, you know, various different, um sectors and, like, kind of, um, aspects of disadvantage, I suppose, whether that be, like, mental health, criminal justice system, domestic violence, poverty, addiction. Um, you know, lots of the people that I work with have come through various different kinds of challenges, but they've all got a real passion to to make the world a better place, and especially to help people that are going through, uh, similar things to what they've passed through

Um, so, yeah, so I'm really fortunate to be doing that job. Um, I'm someone that's, you know, been involved in coal production for possibly, uh, I think I started getting involved in coal production around the year 2017. Possibly, um, I got involved in coal production because I've been through, um I've been through a season in my life where everything kind of fell apart from me if I'm honest

Um, I used to have a pretty good job. Um, you know, I like. I was I was I was in a solid relationship and things like that

And I, uh, I, uh It's hard for me to explain because it happened, like, I try and get it in the right order. But, um, it happened over a period of time. So sometimes it, you know, like, I I I struggle to express it, like adequately

But what happened in a nutshell was I lost my job because they were in it. It was a There was a there was no, it was the construction industry, and that went into, like a, you know, like difficulties and hardships and things like that. So then I ended up losing my job

Then, after losing my job, I ended up, um, you know, like getting depressed and stuff like that. My relationship broke down like I lost the place where I was living because we was living together. I had to move out

So then, like, I was like, I started taking substances and stuff, which was something that I hadn't struggled with, you know, previously, um then that affected my mental health. It just It was just a spiral, really. And then, like while I was off my head and I was, you know, I I wasn't thinking clearly

I did something that ended up, like with me getting a charge and ended up in prison for a season. So I kind of hit rock bottom, if you like, you know? But then when I come out, I was able to find a measure of stability. Um, you know, like I was able to I was able to get sober

I was able to sort my mental health out. You know, like I was able to get to a point where I was functioning reasonably well. But like I needed something in my life, I needed, like, a little bit of purpose or something

Do you know what I mean? Because, like, I I didn't want to sit about all day watching daytime telly. It didn't seem to be a whole lot of opportunities opening up to me unless it was like a voluntary role or something. Because obviously when you have a charge, it it It kind of limits your options, doesn't it? You know Um, and in all honesty, I suppose at that point, I probably didn't want too much responsibility

I wanted, like, a a reasonable amount of it where I was, where I was able to do something that was bringing meaning to my life, but not too much of it where it would have crushed me because I've been out of action for a bit, you know, And I needed to build back up gradually. Um, so I started volunteering at a place called Petri, which is like a homeless charity. And, um, one of my colleagues who actually works for me on the projects I'm on now was like by chance, the the guy that, like I come under like we used to do a men's group, you know, for people that was homeless and stuff like that

And, um and he he was quite heavily involved in co production, and he started linking me into a few things that was going on and taking me to a few meetings and stuff like that. And, um, and he linked in with Matt Kid. He's another guy that I work with now as well

Now, Matt kid was heading up a coal production project for housing first. I don't know if you're aware of that, but it's like a It's like a pilot programme. That's like it's something to do over in America

And they wanted to launch it over here as a new way of addressing homelessness, and they wanted it to be stayed quite heavily by people that have had lived experience of that kind of stuff. Do you know? Um, so we was invited to co produce elements of that and like, No, I honestly, like I really enjoyed it because I got, um I felt that, like, my insight and the things that I've learned, I felt like I felt if I could contribute it in an effective way, I felt that, like, they could actually have some kind of impact that could actually be helpful to people. Right

Um, and in this instance of coal production, you could tell that the people who had brought us in, like was investing in it. Not so much, just with the resources, because they was investing with the resources they was paying us. But it wasn't just the fact that they was paying us for our time

It was that they was giving us a measure of responsibility and then backing us on our decisions, do you know? So like, so even when right from the right from the offset, they invited us into it. And we designed part of the tender that went out. Yeah, And then when the tenders come back, they give us, like, 20% of it to mark ourselves, you know, as the co-production panel

And then they like when? When he was employing staff, they had us sat there, you know, like taking part in the interviews, things like that. And then like when the staff was employed, we had a role in training and do you know what I mean? So So, like, it was actually giving us, like, a role. It wasn't something where they was just calling us in, and we were having, like, you know, some discussions and things like that

And they were just getting a little bit of, you know, consultation if you like. For us, it was actually like there was invested like, um, trust into us, you know? Um, so yeah, so, like, when I saw that and I actually saw that it I believe it was being quite successful. It encouraged me a lot

And it helped me personally on a personal level because I was growing in confidence. I was growing in like strength. I was I was growing in my kind of stamina to work again, and even in my motivation and my desire and my hunger and all that kind of stuff, um, and it was helping me to believe that something could come

Do you know that, like, actually, you know, at the end of this there might actually be a result for me. I might actually end up. You know, um, something might open up for me where I could actually, like, you know, go into this kind of stuff full time

So, like I had, like, I had hope being restored to me and stuff, which was something which I was lacking on. I suppose when I got out of prison, um, so that was really, really meaningful to me. And I think that it's important that if you get involved in a coal production project, I think that when the people that are, um, facilitating that are running that are, um, have ownership over that pro project that they make, you know, a reasonable investment into you, You know, because the more that people invest into you, the more they'll get out of here as well

Do you know what I mean? So I feel like, uh, yeah, So So that was a That was a really positive experience from it. Um, and through that, like like I said, there was Chris Woodward who was already working with at the homeless in Rochdale. There was Matt kid who was working with on the housing first project, and both of them were involved in a project called the Elephants Trail

So it just seemed like a natural progression for them to invite me along to that. So I started getting involved in that, um I think it was about 2018 or something like that, and, um and yeah, I enjoyed it. It was it was difficult because it was I I struggled to work out what it was initially in all honesty, because it was a little bit different

It was a little bit out there. It was a little bit innovative. It wasn't as structured, I suppose, as, um as what I was used to with the co-production that I've been involved in before because there was a lot more freedom and a lot more kind of responsibility was given over to the people who lived experience in the groups to make the decisions for themselves, you know, And in some respects, that can feel a little bit overwhelming

Especially, like, you know, if you've got a group of people that typically probably haven't had that level of responsibility. Um, so there was a lot of time where it was, uh it was quite frustrating trying to pin something down and trying to bring everyone into some kind of agreement and some kind of alignment with what we wanted to do with the project. Um, I was typically I was originally involved in the Rochdale side just as a participant

Um, then that that carried on for, like, a year. And we didn't use to meet that often. I think we only met, like, once a month or something like that

And then, um and then we started meeting more regularly and, you know, I was really enjoying it. But then an opportunity opened up and it was like a godsend. Really? Because I was at a point where there was going to take away my benefits because I've been struck off mental health and all that kind of stuff

There was literally, um it come to a point where they sent for another assessment. And I'm like, I I'm a believer. You so I can't lie like not not in good conscience

Do you know what I mean? So I couldn't go and blag it. So, like, so I knew that there was no way I was gonna get it, you know, I was gonna get it or anything like that. All my benefit was going to continue

And then this this opportunity opened up for the, uh, engagement work with the Elephants Trail project. So back to the wall, I thought I just I'll just take a swing at it. Do you know what I mean? And, uh, so that's what I did

And I went there, and I You know, I I give it my best effort, and, uh, I was pretty shocked when he bring me up, you know, and said like, we want we employ you. Chris Dabs is my CEO at the minute he rang me up, he said he wants to employ us. And, uh, when could I start? Kind of thing

So? So the rest is history, so to speak. You know, I, uh, I jumped on board with it. Um, I had a really challenging time initially because, like I say, I was still trying to work out what it was even a year or two down the line

Do you know what I mean? And everyone that I see to ask him to tell me something different as well at the time, I think. And I suppose that is, like for our project, the elephants trail. I suppose that is kind of relevant in that

Like, um, the elephant's trail is different things to different people, and it's and it's give different results to different people. And different people have come with different expectations, but also come with different kinds of, you know, and also left with different kinds of rewards or also obtained different things from it. Do you know what I mean? So I suppose that's, uh I suppose that can be quite a good thing in many respects

Um, So yeah. So we got involved with that. I I start started in the position, and, um and we were just trying to work it out for a while

I I was gonna go about it and then covid it. Yeah, and it was like, Right, OK, are we gonna How am I going to adapt to this? I'm quite new to the role and everything like that. Like, I don't obviously like you have to step up, and I have to try and be a bit creative and try and do something and like, but I don't know, things just kind of progressed naturally

I suppose there was lots of times where it was discouraging and lots of times where it was disheartening. You know, uh, because over zoom and stuff, it's hard to get the same kind of energy, you know, into your facilitation. Um, you're limited in some of the stuff you can do

Do you know what I mean? Because, like, I believe that when you're doing group work, it's it's kind of important, especially in a project like this to make it engaging and make it a little bit fun. Do you know what I mean? Where people have a reason to keep coming back? Um, if It was really technical. And if it was really boring, the stuff that we did, I don't think that many people would like would would give us the time of day

Do you know what I mean? But because we always have had, like, you know, a bit of fun and a bit of a laugh and stuff like that, then it makes people want to engage with it, makes people want to come back. Um, so, yeah, so, like, so we just started. What we started doing was we started plugging into some community stuff and seeing basically what's going on in the communities, do you know, like we started attending some hubs and stuff like that and we started like we started doing like workshops and things like that, because I thought, Well, what a good way for us to a good way for us to bond and get to know each other as groups is to have some activities, but not only just to have some activities, but we can we can we can make it around stuff that's meaningful to us, like our lived experience stuff that we're passionate about, and as we're doing that stuff like it

Our kind of, um, our path might open up if you like. Do you know what I mean? The direction which we're supposed to go, we might We might discover that along the way. So we started doing, like, poetry workshops, but we'd all write from our experience

We'd all have a laugh. We'd all have banter and stuff like that. But then we'd We'd also get some material out of it at the end

You know, um, start doing, like, theatre workshops and stuff with Katie from Legislative Theatre and, you know, building some performances around some of the stuff that we'd, uh, that we'd been through. Um, And as we're doing this stuff, we're like connecting with one another. We're learning about one another

We're also learning about each other's experiences, and we're growing. Do you know what I mean? Um, so then, like we started, we started pursuing different kind of avenues of taking our experience and and and trying to deliver a message through various different instruments. Tools, if you like, that would have impacts

Whether it be poetry or whether it be theatre. We started, like trying to form a community reporting team as you know, because, like, um well, that actually come about, because when we first got into lockdown, I remember thinking, Well, how can I How can I adapt to this? And I thought, Well, I've been to prison, and I that I'm supposed to be sharing my lived experience to help people. I struggled in prison

It wasn't a natural place for me to be. Do you know what I mean? Like, I wasn't, um it wasn't somewhere. It's somewhere that felt a bit more alien to me, I suppose, than most

But there's certain things that are out there. Do you know what I mean? Like, one of them was Don't invest all your, um, don't don't don't have expectations. I had this release date or this court date where I thought it was gonna get released, and I just kept believing that when this when this date come, it was gonna you know, I I was gonna be out and I was going to be free

And every time I went to go to court, something happened and it ended up like the date got put back. Or or I missed the van or something else. Do you know what I mean? And that that expectation was crushing me because it was like making my heart sick

You know what I mean? Because of the hope. So I shared that And what ended up happening in lockdown when we first went in, He said, It's gonna be, like, two weeks or something. Do you know what I mean? And it just kept getting put back and put back and put back

So I was just trying to draw on that stuff. So I I I did a little video. I just sent it out there and somehow, uh, la Kelly Chase who were like our funders

They got hold of it. They put it on their website on their Twitter feed or something. And then John Domico saw it from the Guardian

He's a guy that makes films. He, uh, he's a He's an award winning filmmaker as well, do you know? But he was struggling at the time because he's a journalist. He wanted to make films, but he's locked down as well, isn't he? So he's like he's trying to plug into people that are in the communities that he can use

So he come and he started teaching us a little bit about film. He met some of the group and stuff like that, and we thought, You know what? We can do something with this. So then we start using film as an instrument as well, to try and, like, you know, carry a message and stuff

And we we we're kind of willing in the elephant's trail to use anything we've got to hand because we know that we've all got different passions. We know that we've all got different skill sets. We know that we we're quite diverse, and we think that diversity makes us stronger

You know, Uh, whatever we've got, we just pull it together. I might not be the best at like or anything like that. I draw stick me, me

Do you know what I mean? But like, but there's someone in the group that has got that Then I might not be like, I don't know, I might not be dead, athletic or dead sport, but then we've got someone who's like, who's really good at all. That stuff runs, exercise, classes, run group and everything group sessions and all that kind of stuff. So, like even though I might, if we have, like anyone, come to us at any point with a need, even though I might not be able to address that need, There's always usually someone that can and that works with our experience as well

I'm I might not have had experience of domestic violence, but there's people in our group that have so even if I can't help you or I can't relate to you specifically, I know someone that I can talk to about it. And I know some someone who I can direct you to do, you know? So So, yeah, so I I don't even know what more to say. But we've just been believing in ourselves since that point, um, we've just been we've been doing loads of different kinds of works

I suppose we've, um We designed the homeless strategy in We had a big input into that. Um, we've been asked to do pieces of research and stuff before, Um, because we believe that we can be like, a bit of a bridge, I suppose, between different communities and, um, you know, like professionals and communities and things like that. There was a There were certain people that he was looking to engage with, and he was really struggling

So we said, Look, we'll you know we'll we'll, We'll come in, We'll engage with him. We'll go and we'll make some connections with him. We'll bond with him, Do you know? Because like, we've been through that stuff, we understand

So we did. And, you know, and and I think we did all right, like, I think, like everyone was really happy with the work that we did. But we kept them connections going because we care

Do you know what I mean? It's not like we just cut the people off like we're still around. We're still a part of all that stuff. We still like to link in with them

Um, and I think that's the big thing for me. Is that a lot of people in coal production, not everyone but a lot of people are carrying like a hunger and a motivation to to use what they've been through to help others like a passion in you, don't it? If you've been through some stuff, do you know? So it's not always necessarily about like career. It's not always necessarily about you know, financial gain or anything like that

A lot of the time it comes from a point of, like, real, real passion. And and that, for me, is usually what makes people successful. Wow, what do you think the impact of um, an organisation like the elephants trail that brings that kind of range of experience has been to public sector or or even other organisations in terms of them being able to change? OK, well, I've got an example that comes to mind, right? Is that I believe that say one thing that's quite significant recently

Yeah, is, um is we've just actually we've just actually entered into a contract with Rochdale Council. Yeah, now Rochdale Council have funded us like a significant amount of money. Like to kind of say that they value the work that we do right? But this kind of this service level agreement or this contract, if you like, is radical for the council because it's and it's been very difficult to push through

But there's not There's not any specific outcomes or any kind of targets or anything like that that's attached to it Now. This is a way that they typically don't commission, right? But we have an understanding that, like our rules, at least that we believe that when we have the freedom Yeah, that that kind of contract gives to us and we honour that Well, yeah, that we have the opportunity to address, like, the real needs of a community, as opposed to what someone else perceives them to be because we're able to discover it. You know, we're able to go out, we're able to do what we do

And we have, like, a like a kind of, um we have the capacity to grow organically and to adapt and to change, do you know? So like, so that for me, was like, that was something significant because that's shown that you have a governing body, someone that and obviously we're in austere times, aren't we? Do you know, like it's not like the government are giving out money for for you know, for nothing? Believe it, do you know, like it's like they have to seriously believe in something to invest in it, especially if they're gonna do that in a way where there's quite a lot of risk, Do you know? So like, so the fact that they have done that shows that we've just had a massive shift in, like in, you know, in a in a council's kind of mindset and what they're willing to do. Do you know what I mean? So that that for me, is something that's quite significant? It might not seem like a, uh, a landmark achievement. But like if I I believe that it shows that we're we're impacting, like, even the kind of culture of authorities and institutions Do you know what? What do you think led to that, Patrick? What was what was maybe the catalyst in in that? OK, um so there was different things

I suppose we, um we've always engaged with people in Rochdale like people know us. You know, um, there's lots of people that speak quite well of us, Do you know? Because, like, they know that, like if they ask us to do something, we'll commit to it and we'll try and do it. You know, if we're able and it's reasonable, um, people have seen the impact that we've had upon the lives of the individuals here, but also our ability to connect with people that like that typically have been difficult to connect with

Um, we've done like things like films, workshops, FIA performances, all this stuff. And a lot of people from Rochdale council sometimes have attended that we've done like training and certain things you know which they've attended. And over the time I believe that they've They've come to realise that you know, that there is something there

There is something in this and I think it's been built up for a little bit of consistency as well. Do you know? Um even when they've been involved with, like, interviews and stuff, sometimes we've had people that have gone and designed an interview process for them. You know, that's a little bit out there that's a little bit different and like to try and get them to draw out some of the person's characteristics and attitude and values as opposed to, you know, like just just basic interview spiel

We've had people that got involved in doing stuff like that alongside Rochdale council members. So there's been various different bodies of work which we've done, which I believe has led them to to trust in us to invest in us and, um yeah, I think it's I think that's that's kind of how it's come about. It's really exciting

So there's something in there about the the conditions that you've created as an organisation or as a group of people that have then led to this feeling like a more natural way of working. Perhaps for Rochdale. Um rather than the focus being on Oh, co-production, how do we do this thing? You've invested a lot of time and energy in the relationships and the trust and the, um the conditions

Yeah, well, I mean look like, do you know when we first when I first got involved with the rats side and even for a long, long time, right There wasn't much happening because, uh, certainly on the outside, it might not seem like that. And me as an engagement worker, there were seasons where I felt really discouraged. There was a lot of times where there was people just not turning up to meetings and no one was really getting involved

And me and my colleague, we had to We had to strengthen each other a lot. We had to support one another. We had to ring each other at night

You know I can try and lift each other up and, like, encourage us to to keep pushing forwards. And, you know, and I'm grateful that I have that, you know, and I do believe that there was, like, a strength that grew in me through going through that stuff. But it wasn't easy, you know

But eventually, like we did, we did start turning it around. And I think one critical part was when we started doing the theatre workshops in Rochdale. Because then when we started doing that, that was just something that brought a little bit more excitement

And we actually did that in lockdown, right when it was like it was legal, because we did it all with rats, infection control. But it was it was a challenge to do it. But we knew that we needed to get some energy

Do you know what I mean? So when we did that, that that that become a starting point, if you like, where things started to grow and develop, you know? And there was a lot of work by myself and Chris to get people to even entertain us as well because, like, I think that um Although people was wishing us well, there was never any bad like feelings towards us. There wasn't. There wasn't a lot of people initially that was kind of willing to do anything more than turn up and talk to us, you know? But we started doing things where there was little opportunities opening up

And if we took him, we started doing things which was gradually started to gain a bit of attention and a bit of momentum. Do you know what I mean? And a little bit of hype, if you like and And we just like we we seized on that as well. We jumped on that, and then it just kind of it just kind of grew from there

But that is a really critical thing, which he was talking about is getting the relationships right. Getting the group dynamics right and everything like that at the start, facilitating it well and actually like because we do stuff that we're you know, that we're motivated to do, especially the people that we're with. I believe that's where it that that's the thing that carries us

Do you know what I mean? That's the thing that lifts us And that's the thing that's like, kind of give us any measure of success, really making a difference for people who need things to be changed for, I guess. Yeah, that that makes that makes sense. You touched on the creativity there actually, do you think and and like the the use of theatre and arts and and and that kind of stuff has been a A a pivotal thing

Um, how much do you think that side of it? The creativity side of it is integral to co-production and it really making a difference. Well, for me, like I think it's massive like I I like personally. I think that like I think that a lot of the times when people try and do a co-production project, it can get a little bit like technical and sound a little bit scientific

And that can be a little bit dull, can't it? Do you know what I mean? And like a lot of it can end up just being a bit of a talking shop and stuff, but like, you know, that's cool, because some people will thrive off that, like some people will buzz off that some people who love that. I know people that we have in our group that are like that. Do you know what I mean? You do as well like, but like, that's that suits some people

But when you give everyone an outlet to express themselves, how they like Do you know what I mean, then? Obviously, like you, you kind of you're opening the door for them to engage in it and and express themselves in the way that's meaningful to them. But also, the message that they carry is probably gonna be a little bit more meaningful as well. Do you know? And like, if that's the thing that they enjoy doing and they have a means of doing that, you know, for the greater good, then obviously like you're giving people the opportunity to do what they want, aren't you? Do you know what I mean? So, like, I I think that it's massive

I think that it helps people who are on the other side of it to receive it because we all receive stuff in different ways as well, don't they? I mean, I won't. I won't sit there and read like a 60 page report. Me, I get them all the time

Do you know what I mean? But it's very rare that I sit down and like, go through them. I might have a quick flick and, like, bit of a scam. Do you know what I mean? Like, I I have a quick nosy down the contents and that see if there's anything interesting and like, don't tell me, boss, like, please don't But like, but I mean, them things, they just like they all no appeal to me

Do you know what I mean? But if it was, like, an engaging poem or something like that, or if it was like, you know, a documentary or something, then like, you've got a really good chance of me sitting down with it, You know, um and there was like, there was some What I know is like, personally in a personal sense that I realise that you can tell things on different levels. Do you know what I mean? And like and that film was a massive one for me because I remember sitting there right, and I watched this. I watched this video, right

It wasn't a video. It was like a short film or something, right, But oh, man, it just piers me out so bad. Now I know that, like Children, getting cancer is like this really terrible thing

Like I know it in my head. Do you know what I mean? Like, I know that it's a bad thing. Yeah, and like but like, my aunt's not really engaged with it and me, and you could have a conversation about it now and like and I'm not feeling much about it, even though I know it's a bad thing, right? But I watched this film and it was this woman who stood over a child's bed who was in agony and he was screaming or whatever

And he was only a young kid, right? And she's just turning to the doctor. She's breaking her out and she says, You're telling me that I have to stand here and watch him die and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Do you know what I mean? And like, and the way it just like it just pierced me so much

And like I give I give to, like, save the Children and stuff. Now do you know what I mean? After after watching it like, honestly, I was like, Boom, it just hit me there. And I thought, like the impact that some of these instruments can have is much more profound than just sitting there and having a conversation

Sometimes. Do you know what I mean? Especially if you can show it people. So you can tell someone something

If you can show someone something, Do you know what I mean? You've probably got more chance of of hitting them there. And if you can actually make them experience it or go through it And that's like another level of again, isn't it? You know, So that's what we tried to do in our Rochdale workshops was we thought, Is there a way we can go from showing people something to trying to make them feel it? Do you know what I mean by by drawing them into some scenarios and some situations? Yeah, I That's something we talk about a lot in terms of our co-production work or I've done for years is actually if I'm gonna do AAA workshop or with with people we've often used that term coproduction. Can you feel it? Because actually, until you connect, can connect with what it means

On a human level, it's just another process or system or transactional thing that you're asking people to do, and they just don't get it. So, yeah, that Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, I I agree

Um, yeah, for sure. Like it, people have to. People have to connect with it

People have to engage with it. The emotions, the heart has to be there for it. I suppose it depends in what way you want to do co production as well

Like we, I think it's quite challenging coal production that we do, I suppose, because we typically engage with people that have that have been through some stuff. Do you know what I mean? And they believe that it can. And I think a lot of coal production has often been done in that way as well

But I do believe that it can be like something that's transitional across different sectors. Do you know it doesn't have to be around disadvantage for sure. I think like we we've got some projects that unlimited potential now where they're trying to co produce stuff around the economy and stuff

Do you know what I mean, and I'm trying to co produce things with the youth and there's all different. Like like we did it with the media. Didn't we like, for me that that film we made with the Guardian, um, when John got involved and we we made a film, um, actually did come on board eventually, and we ended up making this this documentary

And, um, when we did that like, that was another level of co production. And now we're in a conversation with the Guardian newspaper, possibly about coal producing. You know, um, looking at ways that we could get the media to engage with the communities in a more healthy way going forward, you know, um, possibly having some kind of platform and some kind of connection where we're able to do that

And that's like, ongoing. You know, that's something we've been looking at. Um, so I do believe that you can You can take what's been done typically and like adapt to it, Do you know into different sectors so it doesn't just necessarily have to reside with people that have had disadvantage or the area where we specialise in it can go right across the board as a point of bringing different, different, um, different sets of people together

You you've talked a lot about the impact on on the system, I guess, and organisations. But what? What has been the impact of, um, coproduction the way that you've worked with elephants trail and unlimited potential on on people, people who are involved directly or or maybe the wider kind of communities that you're connected with. OK, so, um, a lot of people that started with us, um now have, like, their own kind of, um, their own work, which they're involved in which they're getting paid for and stuff like that

You know, when they didn't, they didn't have that initially. Um, So, for example, we have a woman. Um, we had this dream to become like, I don't know if that's exaggerating

Scarlet Dream. I don't think it is. She she had it in her heart that she could use exercise as a way of, like, as a way of helping people with mental health and stuff

Yeah, it sounds like a basic thing. Quite a simple thing. But what she was saying was like when I struggled with my mental health, I didn't want to go to the gym or anything

I wanted to be around people that was like me. Do you know what I mean? It felt a bit dark and a bit intimidating. She said, like, but I knew that it could help me

So, like I was, I was like, you know, I I was a little bit stuck. Do you know what I mean? She said so she had this idea that she could run a session, you know, in a gym or something like that. And like, have a brewing and not home and everything at the end of it

And like the people that come, they could all support each other. But they could have, like, a work out as well at the same time and not feel like un comm and stuff like that, Like a little safe haven where they can all lift each other if you like. So, like so she said it

And when she initially spoke, I think a lot of people was dismissed Me, But, like I I don't know me. I'm like, Oh, you can't give in on that, man. Look at it

You got the fire in your eyes, You know what I mean? Like a lot of work. Like keep keep persevering. So, like, I got to speak to a couple of people who I knew

Do you know who had done similar things? And, um and then Matt. Matt supported her in in in a bidding process to try and access some funding, and she was successful, and, um and then she started it up. Do you know she started doing these groups and at first she struggled a little bit because people were engaging, but she persevered and she she kept on And then before you know it, it just took off

And it got to the point where it's like she's putting on that many sessions now because there's that many people with it. They're like the gym literally give her her own space. They literally said, like No rent, nothing

You can have it. Do you know what I mean? They're like because you're bringing that many people through the door and stuff and give her her own space and whatnot and like and she put it, She originally it was for women, but now she does men's groups and stuff like that do you know what I mean? So it's like it's it's really it's really took off. Um, that's one community group

We've got another one. Lexi. You know, um, I don't think she'll mind me telling you, but she managed to access some funding and she's like, really into nature and stuff like that

So she's got a little space called space for nature, which she's been working on, and her ambition is that that's gonna be, like a little haven. You know where people can come and they can have a brew and a and everything like that and and, you know, and do a bit of work out, like in the in, in, in the in the wilderness or whatever you want to call it. Do you know what I mean? Do a bit of, like gardening or whatever it might be

Do you know what I mean? A bit like an allotment or something. I'm not sure, but she could tell you much more adequately than myself. But that's where her passion is

I I've got green fingers. Me. Do you know what I mean? I'm terrible

Like the the flipping weeds outside. It looks like the jungle out there. Do you know what I mean? Man, there's like tigers walking about in the garden out there and stuff, but, um but, yeah, so that's That's one thing that she's like got

But she also does other work. She works with legislative Theatre people. Um, so we have another person and she does

She does theatre in the community with the kids and stuff. They come to her and she runs sessions. She runs classes

She's got her own community group, which I I think you're aware of. And there's all kinds of like, there's all kinds of ways which people have took on their own projects. Um, you know, over over in Rodale, like we supported someone else into a co-production role like full time Do you know, like and even though they still plug in with us because they've been allowed to, you know, be released to to come to us and to work with us

But we supported them into that. You know, there's there's like there's lots. There's lots of ways where people have gone on and developed and then pursued their passions but still kept part of the elephants as their identity as well do you know? Because we still we still connect with each other

We still support one another. Do you know, like we're still there for one another? And that's that's one way that we encourage each other as well, I suppose, because when you have an atmosphere with support, you know you can generate an atmosphere of, like, sincere support, not flattery or anything like that. But when it's sincere and people know when it's sincere, um then like you find that people have the confidence to push into them things which are a little bit uncomfortable

Do you know what I mean? Because they feel held, they feel supported. So, like the things that might have intimidated him are overwhelmed, and when they're on their own, they'll step into it. If they've got, like, people alongside and people behind and people backing and people encouraging them, Do you know what I mean? And and I feel like we have to We have to do that

Lots of people have said it's the well, a couple of people I don't want to exaggerate in any way. A couple of people say it's been the best thing that happened to them. Do you know, um, even like in the film that we made someone mentions it and says the most support I ever got was doing something like this because it gave me the chance to take something negative and turn it into a positive

You know, we have a graphic recorder. Um, do you know, he's like she she just had a bit of a skill for sketching. And we had a graphic recorder who, like he used to do our minutes and stuff

Do you know what I mean? So we would, um when we had meetings as a core group, which is like the staff, he'd come along and he'd sketch out like some of the meetings and take notes and things like that and he So we we knew that she had a passion to do it. It was like, Do you want to get involved with this Because we're getting to train you. Do you know what I mean? We're getting to, and then that And that's and that's what she did

And now she's now she's doing all right off it. She's you know, she's earning a bit and stuff so that we are. We've been trying to support people in line with their passions, not our passions

Do you know what I mean? Um and I do think that it's having It's having an impact. It's It's a bit odd in the like in the Berry Group, people have gone down a much more individual road. You know, there's been certain things we've done as a collective like the film and stuff like that and lots of people

Lots of people have pursued individual interests as well. In the Rats group, it's been much more like a group, and we use the same principles in both areas. But the results have been different

It's different people, different needs, different communities. Do you know what I mean? So we acknowledge that and we embrace that and we celebrate that because they're both good. But I mean just that Look, we believe in this as an instrument that can bring about systems change, right? We believe that like people that make decisions are often removed from the ones that, like they're making them about right

And I think that that's not healthy, because if you make a wrong decision right, it damages trust, even from your position. Do you know what I mean? And you need the people that are You're making the decisions about to actually trust you if you want to have any kind of success in that in that position. So I think that to connect, to connect them and to have them to have a better understanding of one another is always, always really healthier and really helpful

You know, we believe a lot that there's a lot of things that communities can do for themselves, and there's a lot of things that communities can't do for themselves. Do you know what I mean? And I think it's about empowering them to do what they can do for themselves, but also connecting them to the people that can do the stuff that they can't do as well at the same time. Do you know what I mean? Um, I fully believe that this helps the individual

I believe that it helps. It helps the system at large. I believe it helps the professionals, you know, and I believe that it helps the communities as well, and I believe it gives people hope

I believe it gives them access to a way back. In some instances, you know where they might have been struggling. It gives them the chance to get involved in something meaningful, which they might not have necessarily the opportunity to do otherwise

So I believe that there's a lot about this stuff which is, you know, really, really healthy. I believe it's got its challenges. Don't get me wrong

There's many, many challenges, and I'm quite I'm quite open about that as well. We haven't touched on him much, you know, today. But, like, I do believe that like, there's so much potential in this

But we still need to like, kind of. I think we still need to kind of, uh to kind of refine that, if you like, a little bit, you know, to shape that so that the process of coal production or the the the way in which we approach it is like is as effective as it can be. One thing for me

Um and I feel like a lot of the time, um and I'm quite open around this as well. I feel that I've been in situations where certain people have been invited into a space to speak that possibly haven't had the best preparation to go into that space, you know? And how, um and and and an understanding of how to speak in a way that would achieve the right results. Yeah, I've gone into certain spaces where there's been, um, people that have wanted to help from a professional capacity found themselves a little bit limited to do that and face, like, a bit of an onslaught as well

Do you know what I mean? And these are good people and people that wanted to help. And I do think that there's some professionals when it comes to, um co-production that have, like, a trepidation around it. Do you know what I mean? Because they're afraid that, like, you know, if I get into this, you know, is it gonna be something where I I come under a lot of heat and stuff like that, You know, even if they're not open about that and they're not honest about that because I feel like there's a bit of political correctness around it where people are a bit intimidated to say what they actually think about it, for fear of a backlash

Do you know what I mean? because, you know, it's like it's It's something that's being commissioned into a lot of things now and it seems like most people are talking about it, but not talking about any reservations that they have about it. I have reservations about it. I've been I've been involved in it for years and like and there's been times where I felt pretty discouraged

And there's times where I felt like Is it actually helping? Do you know what I mean? Is it actually helpful? Um, I always come back to the fact that I think it is, but there's certain ways, like, I believe that if we are going to, um, put people into certain environments, I I believe that we should possibly prepare them well for that as well. Do you know what I mean? We should invest into them. We should give them the time

Um, because if you go into, if I go into any kind of conversation with anyone and I am, you know, um expressing myself in a manner that's like, you know, that's that's, like, kind of aggressive or anything like that. Then immediately the other person that they're gonna get a bit defensive aren't they? Do you know what I mean? They're gonna shut down. And that's not helpful to me as a person

Do you know what I mean? Like and And I've seen that happen before and like what I feel like would be helpful would be to prep someone around that stuff, have the conversation and say, like, you know, if you actually want to get a result, if you want to just go and have a moan, then go and have a moan by all means. But if you actually want to get a result, yeah, and we probably have to reproach it in a different way. And if you really want to get a result like I'll let you moan at me, do you know what I mean? Give it to me

First, get it all out of your system and then we'll we'll we'll we'll go over there, you know. And I've seen instances like that, and it's not necessarily the elephants. It's just like loads of other things that I've been involved in as well

Um, but yeah, I feel like that's one of the one of the challenges. One of the one of the reservations that people have around it. I think it can be time consuming

It can take a lot of time, a lot of effort. Certainly in the sector that we're involved in, there can be a lot of times where people, you know, they, they might pass through something they might not turn up. Attendance might dwindle

Um, there's like definitely in the work that we've started going into now. There's always this tension because there's this need to get something done. A lot of people are expecting a result

And then, on the other hand, there's like this need to be compassionate and to be able to listen and to be able to understand where people are at. So I have to. A lot of the time

I'll have to soak up a bit of that pressure because I'll have to. I'll have to bear the weight of what's coming on this side and then, like like have patience on this side. Do you know what I mean? And not not push on people? Because even if I start pushing on people, it it has the opposite effect of what I want

Do you know what I mean? So it's more about encouraging and supporting people. So, like sometimes it feels like there's quite a bit of a tension on me or a pressure on me to manage them to different areas, and I think that people have different time frames as well. The time frame for these people is not the same as the time frame for these people

Do you know what I mean? And that can be hard to manage. So there's like there's a few. I think there's more challenges than that, but, like I just, uh, I don't want to take up, you know all your time


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