Small stuff, big impact – community led coproduction in action

3 July 2019 · Categories: Communities Care, Opinions and responses

Community Catalysts harnesses the energies of entrepreneurial people, carers, families, citizens, communities and councils, helping them to work together to effect change within health, care and wellbeing space. Co-production plays a huge part in doing this right.

Stories of local people working together to help other local people emerge from across the country, in all the areas where we work. Coproduction in action with huge and lasting impact.

In Dorset our local Catalyst Anita, with support from other local organisations, is helping a local  publican in a remote village to harness the power of informal networks. He knew of people who wanted to help others but didn’t want to lead a local response. He was keen to support villagers to work together to improve people’s lives in the smallest of ways…and could see if these were brought together, they would have the biggest of impact. Dorset Council is lending a hand, providing data on local need to help move things forward, supplemented in a big way by the personal knowledge of the publican and other locals. From these early discussions ideas for a time banking are emerging with local villagers sharing skills and time to help themselves and others in the village. We are after all a mixture of skills and wants!

In Birmingham our local Catalyst Zoe is helping to co-create opportunities for people with a learning disability. She is advising local people who are keen to establish a micro-enterprise that will help learning disabled people. Each entrepreneur has a seed of an idea and relevant knowledge, but all recognise that this is not enough. They want people with a learning disability to play a strong part in the design and in some cases the delivery of the services and supports their new enterprise will offer. To make this happen, Community Catalysts is hosting an event in the autumn bringing together the community enterprise leaders, people with a learning disability and their families or carers. The plan is for Zoe, together with Council partners, to take what emerges from the event and work alongside people to shape the new service options with them.

In Hertfordshire we have linked with the wonderful Claire Collis, an ex-domiciliary care agency owner who gave it up to follow her passion of animal care and establishing a micro-enterprise called Purr Fetch Pets. Claire met our local Catalyst who shared a message from local older people and their families about a lack of services able to support people at home. Claire saw an opportunity and developed a new enterprise called Hummingbird Home Help. She plans to help to people at home, taking a lead from them and tailoring the support she offers to fit. In Hertfordshire and beyond we are starting to see a real culture shift with front line workers working alongside our Catalysts and the micro-enterprises they work with to shape support to fit people, co-creating and sometimes co-producing support with their customers. In many localities this type of approach adds something new and for some people this can be life changing. One of the people who was recently connected to Claire has been waiting a year for the right support.

A key part of co-production is enabling people to be equal partners in design and delivery. Too often this has a focus on care and support and the skills and assets of disabled people can be overlooked. In Rotherham, our local Catalyst Harry is supporting Charlie, who has a real passion for beauty therapy, achieved several qualifications, but was not able to get a job. Charlie felt her autism held her back so with support from Harry and other local agencies she developed her own enterprise, offering manicures, pedicures and massages, which is now going from strength to strength.

The joy of coproduction is its potential – so many ways for people to work together to design, create and deliver activity, projects, initiatives, services and supports. There really is no one way of bringing co-production to life and every way leads somewhere great. Good for people, good for entrepreneurs, good for communities, good for society. Oh, and gives Community Catalysts a reason to keep doing doing what we are doing!

by Helen Allen

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