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National Co-production Week: Interview

Phoebe Sharpe, Senior Planning & Strategy Officer at Turn2us, interviewed Co-production partners Erica and Patsy, and Grants Search 2 Designer Darshan, about their experiences of working together and about the impact co-production had on the project.

Published
07/07/2022
This article is 23 months old

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Here’s what Erica had to say about her time working on the project

What has your experience of co-production on the Grants Search 2 project been and what is your favourite thing about co-production on the Grants Search 2 project? 

The best thing about working on the Grants Search 2 project has been the collaboration of users and Turn2us technical designers. I have enjoyed most the group and team tasks that we have completed in terms of discussing what works and what improvements are needed, such as sensitive signposting. 

What is the biggest learning from the project? 

The biggest learning issues have been about what people's priorities are when they are searching for grants and how these can be fulfilled directly and promptly. 

What has been the biggest challenge? 

The challenge has been in identifying users' priorities and aiding them in prioritising these -when essentially a search for grants is so terribly emotionally loaded that oftentimes the user themselves cannot immediately find what will help them as determining what they need, want or is available is problematic in itself.

Here’s what Patsy has to say about her time co-producing the Grants Search 2 project

What has your experience of co-production on the Grants Search 2 project been and what is your favourite thing about co-production on the Grants Search 2 project? 

 I think my experience has been that the project so far has been a lot of fun whilst also tackling important themes and issues for people who use the Grants Search 2 currently and hopefully eradicating them or improving them for users in the future. 

My favourite thing is that it's all done with good humour. Often that can diffuse potentially sensitive or argumentative circumstances and keep us all focused on what we are trying to achieve for users of Grants Search 2. 

What is the biggest learning from the project? 

I'm not sure what the biggest learning is, but I think what's surprised me is that one person's observations can derail something that seemed simple and send the Turn2us staff back to the beginning, realising that the person's comments require them to look at the issues and put them into practice. An example recently was when one co-pro partner objected to certain words on the Grants Search 2 drop-down menus and Say (UX Designer) promised to go back and rethink it all again. 

What has been the biggest challenge? 

The biggest challenge for me is the one that comes up in other projects, too, and that's where there are conflicting opinions, which can take over and hog the discussions. As I have limited energy, due to the M.E., it can be difficult to keep focusing on what matters when this happens, but we are and respectful and always aim to work towards a resolution. 

Here’s what Darshan, the Grants Search 2 Designer at Turn2us, had to say

What has your experience of co-production on the Grants Search 2 project been and what is your favourite thing about co-production on the Grants Search 2 project? 

It's been eye opening working with a group of people as peers and working through problems, ideas, thoughts together as a team. My absolute favourite thing about co-production on the GS2 project has been having a laugh with all the co-producers. It's so important to get to a place in a working relationship where everyone can feel safe and love having a laugh together. It truly is where everyone feels valued, feels their opinion always matters, and that we can all learn from each other. 

What is the biggest learning from the project? 

It's not really a learning but a reminder - when we co-produce, we're dropping the walls and deliberately letting people in who have so much to give because of their experiences, expertise, and knowledge, and we're committing to ensuring their voices matter for more than some workshops. When they look at a problem and challenge what might be accepted as the norm right now, it's a much-needed reminder and evidence about how much more radical things need to be. 

What has been the biggest challenge? 

How to take that and turn that into actual change within systems that might have stopped being radical because pragmatism is the way forward. 

Find out more about how we co-produce.