Embedding co-production in research – why peer research is important

Today at Fulfilling Lives LSL we launch our new peer research report on people’s experiences of multiple disadvantage. Listening to people with direct experience is at the heart of a co-produced approach, something Winston Allamby, our Community Engagement & Mentor, is a passionate about.

As we attempt to change the system and improve outcomes for those that we support, we need to use all the tools and instruments available to us. I am an avid proponent of co-production but I am also very aware that it is the word on everyone’s lips and is included in every application for funding. We must be vigilant that co-production does not become locked away in documents or policies and that it is kept free to be used as an instrument for change.

Enabling people with direct experience to offer their point of view through peer research creates a new inclusivity, giving everyone a seat at the table to contribute. It is a step in the right direction but must never be at the expense of those who gather the grain as we sit to break bread.

Peer research runs in the life blood that will keep the organism called coproduction alive and growing and producing healthy changes in services and systems. It is essential for collecting information about the impact that systems have on people, not for but with those who have been marginalised.

 Experts by Experience, Peer Researchers or Champions, whatever terminology we choose to use, not only bring with them knowledge of the disadvantage they experienced, but also skills, emotional intelligence, insight, perspectives and relatability. This enables genuine connections.  In many instances they also bring the knowledge of places and locations that enable us to find those who remain unseen. None of which can be taught.

The role peer researchers play within the sector cannot be taken for granted and they should always be genuinely heard as we aim for fundamental and long-lasting changes to often resistant systems.

Read more about co-production at Fulfilling Lives LSL:

We will be launching our report ‘Embedding coproduction – learning and insights from coproduction at Fulfilling Lives’ next week as part of #CoProWeek. Watch this space!