Last year we took part in the NHS Personalised Care 'Dragon's Den' styled co-production event. This saw several community organisations from across Lancashire come together to create a number of projects aimed at specifically reducing health inequalities.

What Was Involved?

During the first co-production session we were partnered together with Dave (from WotWudUDo), Sarah (from BwD HealthWatch) and Isma (from BwD Carers Service) and began to identify what each of us offered and the area we wanted to focus on – mental health in young people with learning disabilities and autism.

Over the following workshops, we began to refine our ideas, utilising and pooling together local knowledge and assets already in place. One of which was the Care Network’s Covid Community Champions project.

From here, our own co-production journey began, working with the Champions to develop a peer delivered educational programme using their knowledge and experience, equipping them with the skills needed and supporting them through their journey.

But first, we needed to convince the dragons to part with their money and invest in our project, up against some really good community projects, all hoping to gain a £10,000 investment...

Pitching For Funding

We got to work and eventually came up with a basic plan:

  • Recruit the champions
  • Host a series of information gathering workshops to identify the subjects we should approach and the key messages we want to deliver to the young people
  • Develop the Champions and equip them with the knowledge, classroom activities and resources to help them deliver a number of sessions in a local special school
  • Work with the school, offering the families of the young people we engage, support, so they know what help they can access through local community organisation’s and health services. In addition, providing resources to increase their subject knowledge with the aim of continuing the conversations at home.
  • Equip the PSHE teacher with the resources to help facilitate the session.
  • Work with the mental health in schools teams (MHST’s) who join the sessions and pick up on the conversations being had between peers to then deliver targeted interventions and additional support.
  • Reflect, evaluate and go again.

With a plan in place and nerves calmed, we presented... And we won, beating stiff competition to come in first place, with the judges commenting, "the easiest decision I have made in a long time" and "hands down, clear winners".

Bringing The Plan To Life

Over the past several months we have been in development, working closely with the Champions to develop 4 discussion based, creative classroom activities that focus on using the champions strengths and skillsets, and follow the following themes:

  • Emotions, thoughts and feelings
  • Independence and resilience
  • Mental health
  • Healthy relationships

Have a watch of the video and let us know what you think:

Celebrating Our Champions

Following the successful completion of this project, we recently got together with our Champions for a review and feedback brunch. Each volunteer received a voucher as thanks for their time & participation.
This project would not have been possible without the time, work and dedication of our partners and project Champions. We'd like to say a huge thank you and well done to everyone involved - Wot Wud U Do, Healthwatch Bwd & Blackburn With Darwen Carers Service.

Some of our Champions are pictured below receiveing their vouchers for taking part & enjoying our recent review lunch: