It has been a fortnight of coproduction and brain-friendly approaches! Several things I could have written blogposts about, but as always a struggle to find the time. So here’s a little round up of a few thoughts and highlights.
I always enjoy attending the vibrant West Midlands Co-production Practitioners’ Network, co-ordinated by Elke Loeffler and her “can do” team at Governance International. They always manage to pull together an exciting agenda and this time the venue was exciting too. We met at the wonderfully arty space at EC arts at the Mailbox in Birmingham where Claire Farrell and her team generously hosted the event.
I was one of three speakers, (captured on video!) alongside Claire Farrell talking about the inspirational 48Sheet project, taking over the billboards of Birmingham with creative art, and Rosie Edwards explaining Sandwell Council’s innovative Friends and Neighbours scheme.
I was invited to give a short talk about Whose Shoes? and it was my sort of day – explaining a creative co-production tool to a room full of movers and shakers around co-production in this amazing venue. It was great to have Simon McIntosh there from Leicestershire County Council and Helen Turner from Community Catalysts. Both organisations are Whose Shoes? champions, so they were able to chip in with examples of how the tool works in practice. If you want to know more about co-production, read the report of the event here.
I then had the pleasure of attending the Midlands Brain Friendly Group in Statford-on-Avon, hosted by Mel and Helen at First Class Training and Stella, Stellar Learning. It is always a highlight of my calendar to attend this group, meeting like-minded creative learning specialists who shun d-e-a-t-h by powerpoint! This one was a delight as I work closely with Anna Geyer and New Possibilities and am always in awe of her fabulous graphic recording of our Whose Shoes? workshops. Well, this was a two hour course by Vanessa Randle giving us an overview of graphic techniques.
In the afternoon we have a “brain friendly surgery” (no, not brain surgery) where people vote to join different hosted sessions and help solve practical problems. I am very grateful to the bunch who gathered round me, brainstorming facilitation ideas for the electronic version of Whose Shoes? Amazing how much great stuff a powerful, concentrated 20 minutes can yield.
The next few days were a lovely short break in unspoilt Wales. We found a remote and beautiful beach where I made footprints in the sand, gathering my thoughts for my Whose Shoes? video interviews at the forthcoming “Communities Can” conference in Colwyn Bay on 2 May.
This deserves a special mention as it was an amazing example of co-production in action. Pam Luckock had contacted me a while back saying the awesome Dr Edgar Cahn , the originator of time-banking, and his equally inspiring wife Dr Chris Gray had agreed to be key-note speakers at a co-production event. The separate blog for the event tells the story of how this event was put together in record time by a group of willing volunteers. Mr Whose Shoes? and I were extremely honoured to be invited to meet Edgar, Chris and all the organising team the night before at a very memorable dinner with everyone swapping places between courses to get to know each other. I had originally met Pam when she attended my Whose Shoes? workshop at Bangor University and our mutual love of Twitter has helped us stay in touch.
The downside of offering to take photos and video is that it is VERY time-consuming to pull all the material together after the event but, in the true spirit of co-production, a lot of help was available. Mr Whose Shoes? took most of the photos, including me showing Whose Shoes? to Edgar and Chris. Frankie Hine-Hughes from Governance International helped with a wide range of “in my shoes” video interviews. Students from the local college are helping to edit and compile and hopefully the best bits will soon be on the event blog! Meanwhile I have put a few of the best photos onto my new Nutshell Communications Facebook page. (Please “like” the page!)
I returned home fired up, batteries re-charged… and started to prepare for two important meetings – a Whose Shoes? session with people with mental health issues and a meeting with the ‘Making It Real’ sub-group of the National Co-production Advisory Group. This is under the umbrella of ‘Think Local Act Personal’ (TLAP), the sector-led programme to make personalisation “real” for everyone.
I really enjoyed meeting with both groups, demonstrating Whose Shoes? and gathering new insights into how it can best be further developed as a co-production tool for personalisation. I was thrilled to get the chance to show people the powerful video we filmed at our recent workshop with Force 4 Change in Leicestershire, mapping the issues raised directly to “Making It Real”.
‘Making It Real’ will be launched this Thursday, providing a great finale to the Community Care Live conference in London. Paralympic gold medallist and world record holder Danny Crates will share his thoughts on why ‘Making it Real’ is so important.
As I left the SCIE offices and walked across Trafalgar Square, it struck me as I looked at the clock counting down to the Olympics, that time is similarly ticking by as we try to find sustainable ways of improving social care and health in the UK.
I am really looking forward to attending the ‘Making It Real’launch event which will mark the beginning of an exciting partnership between Nutshell and TLAP. More of that anon. And I hear they have an excellent celebratory cake!
- Co-production. Walking in the shoes of … (communitiescan2012.wordpress.com)