Last week, we hosted a co-production session with our Gateshead participants. We value interactive sessions with our participants as they allow people to directly provide feedback and opinions on the programme.
What is co-production?
In simple terms, co-production is a system by which a programme can work with their service users in order to inform and improve their offer. Different organisation adopt different systems of co-production. At Moving On Tyne & Wear, we use co-production to evaluate our system of one-to-one support and receive feedback on how to deliver a service which best helps our participants manage their health and get closer to work.
So far, we’ve been primarily using surveys to collect information and feedback into the delivery teams. This autumn, we wanted to increase how often we directly meet with people to receive feedback.
“Coproduction has become a fundamental part of our programme. We’ve been holding group discussions to allow people to share their feedback with each other and that’s where some of the best ideas have been emerging.” – Jess, Programme Support Officer. #coproweek #coproductionweek pic.twitter.com/hsy3cMOvV1
— Moving On Tyne & Wear (@MovingOnTW) July 4, 2018
The Gateshead session
Today, this blog post will summarise some of the key findings of the recent Gateshead session, including the highlighted strengths and weaknesses of MOTW.
‘Helpful and Supportive Staff’
For the participants, the biggest strength of the programme is the helpful and supportive staff. They take a personal approach, tailor work to the participant, and are willing to work with them to create outcomes. The navigators aren’t willing to do everything for the participants; they have to reach a middle ground where the participant is also working to reach their goals. The navigators will also help with the smaller things that make a big difference when looking for work, like finding childcare or schools for children.
‘A judgement-free zone’
The participants commented on using other services in which they felt they had been judged on their circumstances. People felt that Moving On Tyne & Wear staff don’t judge people and they focus on a participants future rather than their past.
‘No time limit’
The participants agreed that a positive aspect of the programme is that the services aren’t time-limited like other programmes.
There’s more support available through MOTW than other services that the participants have used. Navigators are able to help with a range of barriers and put participants in touch with other organisations which provide additional support.
The participants were glad they were able to discuss with their Navigator how often they wanted to meet, and really cater their rate of contact to their needs.
‘More group activities are needed’
When discussing the weaknesses of the programme, one of the only issue that was brought up was the lack of group activities in Gateshead. Participants seemed keen to interact with others who they could relate to.
‘It’s difficult to find’
The only negative for one participant was the advertising when he was looking for help a year ago. He didn’t see any advertising or leaflets and only heard about us through Oaktrees. Steven was very pleased to hear that we had an advertising campaign and are more involved in Job Centres.
How Moving On Tyne & Wear is responding
Feedback from co-production sessions is used by the programme to implement changes and suggest altered delivery to the local teams.
This session revealed that people were keen to take part in group activities. The Gateshead team have taken that on board and started regular sessions. To start, men’s and women’s activity groups have been set up to help people who are feeling isolated.
Another finding showed that MOTW was difficult for a participant to find. We’ve been working hard to ensure the programme is more visible to the people who need to use it. Since our summer awareness campaign, we’ve kept up momentum and are making every effort to get our name out there.
Big picture thinking
During this co-production session, we decided to ask the participants involved some ‘big picture’ questions to delve into the issue we’re tacking: unemployment for people with health issues in Tyne and Wear. Their opinions gave a great insight into Gateshead and its circumstances.
The biggest challenge that the participants have found when trying to find work is dealing with people. People can be judgemental and not willing to give someone a chance, even if it’s something basic like giving you the opportunity to come in for a few days and get experience.
Health issues and living situations made it difficult when looking for work. They would also like to see more in-work support, someone who is outside of their work situation that they can call if they have any issues or need help. A lot of companies ask you to explain the gaps in your CV and sometimes that’s an issue.
The participants described that these challenges impact your health because getting knocked down all the time can put you in a depression that makes it more difficult to look for work again.
Transport impacts their ability to find and access work. Some of the services aren’t reliable and are expensive.
Additionally, there aren’t many opportunities in their area, other than factory work or administrative work.
In order to be more inclusive to people with health issues, employers need to be more understanding and create a supportive environment
“I’ve never found an environment that’s been conducive to me, that I really feel like want to help me” – Adam Horner
“You go out of your way, it’s not just about meeting halfway, you’ll go 75% of the way if you have to” – Steven Wastell
“I never would have been able to pay £200 for my medical assessment, but I was helped out and it’s a really good thing.” – Steven Wastell
“You don’t judge anyone… They see you on that day, there and then, not what you’ve done in the past” – Steven Wastell
“Tom is a worker first and foremost but I class him as a friend because he’s helped me more than anybody.” – Steven Wastell
“It was good that you think about the person and their needs specifically, it’s kind of like a tailored service which is very unusual and very much lacking and missing.” – Adam Horner
“The tailored service is the right thing to do, otherwise how are you going to help somebody. It can be quite stressful to be passed around, you need somebody that’s able to come to you and tell you “chill out, relax and we’ll help you” – Adam Horner