Introducing the Your Voice Counts Co-Production Team
By David Woolley, Your Voice Counts Chief Executive
Lived experience is at the heart of Your Voice Counts. Our organisation was founded on a belief that people with lived experience of services are best placed to design the solutions that meet their needs, and we’re proud that we have over 25 people on our staff team who have lived experience of using services like ours.
Listening to and empowering people with different needs, abilities and experiences has really helped us to develop our organisation and influenced the way we’ve shaped our values, priorities and service delivery. We’ve been keen to find ways to expand our approach so we can support even more people with lived experience to co-design and co-deliver services.
We have a fantastic track record of supporting people with learning disabilities into paid and voluntary roles, and have been successful in growing the number of people in lived experience posts from 19 in 2021/2022 to 25 in 2022/23. However, we want to go further than this, creating not only more opportunities, but also opportunities that span all of our services and that appeal to a more diverse range of people. We’ve considered a number of different ways to do this, for example our Board of Directors has always included people with lived experience of learning disability, but we have also recently recruited Trustees who have lived experience of autism, of mental health services and experience as a parent/carer. This year our Board went further in demonstrating their commitment to the value of lived experience by approving investment in a brand new Co-Production Team that will coordinate and drive our work in this area forward.
The team initially consists of a Development Manager supported by two Co-Production Workers with lived experience of health and social care services that are similar to those used by the people we support – this might be someone who has used inpatient or community mental health services, lived in residential care, or someone who has received support from an advocate.
One of the team’s first priorities is to explore ways to further embed co-production into our independent advocacy service. We provide a range of statutory and community advocacy services to people who need support to understand their circumstances and speak up for themselves – these are often people who are in hospital or residential care who have been deemed to lack capacity to make their own decisions or who just need some extra help to participate in a decision that needs to be made about their life, such as where they live or hospital treatment they might require.
The team will be working closely with our advocates, as well as other key stakeholders within the health and social care system, to develop creative and accessible ways to engage with the people who have used our advocacy services and their friends and family. We want to find ways to use their insight to co-design and co-deliver services and solutions to the issues and barriers they are experiencing.
Setting up any new team requires a lot of effort but we’re looking forward to seeing this investment come to life and excited about the direction it might take us.
We are currently recruiting Co-Production Workers to join the team – visit www.yvc.org.uk/jobs for more details.