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How we used co-production to inspire change in Manchester’s services

Inspiring Change Manchester ended in 2022 after eight years. Find out more below or visit the Fulfilling Lives website.

Our projects used co-production to help change our services from the inside out

Core Group

Our Core Group consisted of people with first-hand experience of multiple disadvantages, either through their own lived experience or as a carer for someone else in their lives. They played a part in all decisions that affect our work.

It was the group's responsibility to influence the way services are delivered, both by ICM and across the city.

Our Core Group was involved with:

  • recruiting staff

  • shaping services

  • research

  • developing new ideas

  • participating in decision making

  • holding decision-makers to account

Women's Voices

A group run by women for women, the Women’s Voices movement is about uniting women to improve communities and services in order to create equal opportunities.

Its members had all experienced homelessness, addiction or abuse. They ran events and campaigns geared towards changing problematic preconceptions and inequality.

The group committed to making sure women can live the lives they dream of, free from violence, fear and stigma. They partnered with other organisations to make sure women’s voices are heard at all levels of society.

I’m excited to be empowering women in Manchester to find their voice and be part of the change in Manchester services – after all, they are the experts!

– Women’s Voices member

The Mental Health Action Group

The Mental Health Action Group (MHAG) was a part of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership (MHP), a collective of people from a range of backgrounds: people who have experienced homelessness themselves, people who work on the front line of homelessness and people of all levels working in services that come into contact with homeless people, including commissioners and businesses.

We were one of more than 12 action groups set up to tackle various issues related to homelessness in Manchester. ICM offered to chair MHAG because of how many people our services were seeing struggling with both mental health issues and homelessness. Passionate about enacting positive changes around the issue, we felt we could bring something positive to the table.

MHAG is built on co-production, with all decisions being made equally by the group. Our founding aim was to produce a piece of peer-led research and, after 18 months, we produced the completed report (entitled 'Cause and Consequence') alongside a video. The findings of this report have been used to establish a homelessness operational group at the Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, garnering both local and national attention.

Getting Real Opportunities of Work (GROW)

Our GROW traineeships are paid placements giving people who have experienced multiple disadvantages the chance to secure work and develop experience within the workplace. The programme was designed to help break down barriers into work, with the aim of supporting our trainees to secure further paid employment.

As part of their 12- to 18-month placement, trainees took central roles in services, agencies or organisations. Here, trainees could develop professional experience while using their own lived experiences to improve and add value to the organisation they’re working for.

We see our GROW trainees as experts by experience, and we encourage them to use their knowledge to change our services for the better.

I was fearful but received a lot of support throughout the traineeship. My confidence has grown along with my knowledge, and I know that I am making a real difference to people that were like me – people judged by their history, not their potential.

– GROW trainee

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