Co-production and a passion for purpose
Co-production plays an important role across the organisation at Envivo Group. Keeley Denman explains:
We all need a purpose, it’s the thing that gets us up in the morning - but for lots of people it’s missing. In my role I wanted to make sure that this was built into day-to-day support and learn from people’s own experiences. So what is co-production? For me, the essence of co-production is helping the person to share their experience and use this to shape the care and support we provide at Envivo; it’s personal.
In practice I had no idea what co-production would look like, but I knew it wasn’t going to be tokenistic and that was my driver for this to work. Two years down, we are well on our journey to making it a reality. Co-production is a golden thread that runs through the group and is embraced as a culture. Even facilities and business development teams have been part of projects that have been co-produced to support changes to the way we work as a group of people - who are not only person-centred but person-led. We are signed up to TLAP's Making it Real approach to personalisation.
Along the journey I’ve met incredible people looking for jobs, people with a variety of skills, wanting to make new friends, have relationships, or people who had experience previously working in the sector now receiving long term support. I was blown away; and it gave me the basis for the strategy based on Opportunity, Connection, and Innovation. Our strategy was born from ideas and stories that had been shared from listening to people’s aspirations and experience. Building the right foundation was key, I spent time getting to know people and building relationships so that they would want to work with me.
As a result, we ran pen-pal schemes to encourage people across different settings to make new connections. We worked with external professionals, Jonathon and Emma from Essex County Council’s Inclusive Apprenticeship team, creating a maintenance role at one of our services for a gentleman we support where he secured paid employment, a qualification, and a new purpose. We worked with people in Wales creating a handbook for people moving in to our services because people said “we want other people to know they aren’t alone”.
We ran competitions to get people back outside through ‘Envivo in bloom’ with people commenting that it had improved their mental health. Last year also saw us create our first forum in the north of England created by a team of people with lived experience and colleagues who they have named the ‘All Stars’. The group has its own clear vision on transforming the way we work, support and creating opportunities for people. Our next opportunity is to recruit into the role of ‘lived experience practitioner’ to support a range of projects.
It feels like magic
Co-production feels messy and that’s okay because we shouldn’t be going in with the answers. It’s facilitating and enabling people in the room to bring their visions to life, or creating something that’s born from people’s lived experience.
Having no hierarchy creates a shift and energy in the room and a few of us have had tears on more than one occasion because it’s been transformational to watch people blossom in just a couple of hours. People who were shy or weren’t sure what it was about for the first time have been able to say how they feel and why something needs to change. It feels like magic and who wouldn't want to be part of that?
After all who are we to say their opinion is wrong when it’s not us on the receiving end of the support, no one should dispute a change when it comes from the person and is for the person.