SUMMIT AB4D Co-production 1 Year On

'Coproduction and Collaboration' what does it mean to adults with an experience of learning disability and autism?
When a co-production and collaboration platform in Essex was first discussed in 2018 many adults with disabilities rolled their eyes. More long words!

Fast forward two years and Collaborate Essex is a vibrant working model. AB4D and the Collaborate Essex Forum have brought together adults from across the County to work in partnership with ECC; bringing people with a lived experience of disability together to find shared solutions and have a say in the future of services. Real coproduction means people are consulted and involved from the beginning to the end. When people are involved in collaboration and coproduction it’s meaning becomes clearer, power is shared.
When collaboration is done well everyone wins. From a provider perspective, it has given us all the opportunity to build stronger networks and be a part of an exceptional partnership that acts as a catalyst for each member to grow and succeed.
Despite the pandemic, we have continued to co-produce and collaborate. The conversation has moved from a wooden table to a virtual one. The lockdown did not suppress the spirit of innovation.

Often it is only a crisis, actual or perceived that creates real change. It forces us to do things differently because choices are limited.
If there is to be a change who will decide? Experts believe they know what matters to people with disabilities because after all, they are the experts. We will never know what matters to people unless we really listen to them. The only experts are those with lived experience.
This is why it is vital that people with disabilities are at the heart of co-production and collaboration. Two long words they may be, but our eyes are no longer rolling, instead, our sleeves are rolled up and we are working together.  What we do understand is that our actions speak louder than words.

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