Day Opportunities – City College Peterborough

| Helen Sharp

A few years ago, the day services for people in Peterborough with learning and physical disabilities were at a turning point. The existing day centres were run down and the staff were demoralised and felt they had no impact. Against this backdrop, the contract was due to be re-tendered and a saving of £300k needed to be found across the provision.

City College Peterborough stepped in and used a co-productive approach to transform the services. At first they faced many mistrustful parents, carers and users and some participants used the initial events to vent their anger and frustrations. But CCP persevered and through building relationships and collaborating with as many people as possible, they won the trust of the community. In particular, they supported the front-line staff, known as ‘change champions’, to help them reach people who couldn’t come to events and together, they developed communication methods which meant people with a variety of disabilities could have a voice.

…through building relationships and collaborating with as many people as possible, they won the trust of the community.

City College Peterborough Day Opportunities is the result of the collaboration. It differs significantly from the previous service approach because the primary function of the work stems from the service users or ‘partners’ designing and developing their own supported enterprises. These can range from car washing and jewellery making to ironing services and fruit box deliveries. They now have nine successful enterprises and more will be developed as the users create the ideas and test them out. If the business grows, the partners involved can be directly employed as mentors.  A number of the supported enterprises are also considering becoming independent through social enterprise.

This way of working has had a massive impact on the partners; most of the partners’ support needs have reduced, with one person now only requiring 4 hours support per week, when previously they had needed 20.

Co-production runs through the heart of the provision, and partners, parents/carers and staff are involved in  the decision making and service development, across all levels of the organisation. And they have achieved the £300k savings target. Interestingly, because they brought the parents/carers, users and staff with them on the redesign journey, tough decisions about building closures and service changes were accepted rather than resisted and the political fall-out was greatly reduced.

In a few weeks, we will be hearing from two of the City College employees who helped to drive the project; in the meantime, you can find out more from their website.

Photo by Zach Farmer

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