The purpose of this event, organised with the support of the European Disability Forum, was to present the project results and achievements to a large audience composed of users of services, service providers, relevant stakeholders, and policy makers. The dissemination Conference was conceived as an important tool in the valorisation and dissemination of the experience and outcomes of the entire project. The form of the event was highly interactive with knowledge production and knowledge transfer being explored through innovative approaches with due regard to inclusiveness and accessibility for all participants.
As the main dissemination activity of the ENABLE project the conference provided the opportunity to discuss the co-production methodology and the importance of participative approaches to social services through co-production round tables, videos and users' experiences. The event, which saw the participation of users, experts, service providers, officials, and policy makers, was also the occasion to present the ENABLE learning platform, available on the ENABLE project website.
The Conference began with a welcoming speech from Raymond Ceccotto, APEMH General Manager and President of ARFIE Network, followed by a presentation of the project and its main achievements from Federico Camporesi, ARFIE Network Coordinator. In particular, Federico stressed how the methodology followed by the partnership had been based on a participatory and co-productive approach that enabled all participants to have a decisive role in the development of the results. He also introduced and presented the learning platform, available on the ENABLE project website.
The introduction was followed by a session in which the European Commission approach towards disability was presented by representatives of DG EAC-Erasmus+ and DG EMPL. Lisette Schemer spoked about the Erasmus+ opportunities for action targeting disadvantaged groups and Hana Velecká from DG EMPL explained the EC strategy for disability.
After a Q&A session, the conference continued with a panel dedicated to the co-production focus groups brought together during the project implementation.
Marta Milan and Montserrat Sánchez Palau from AMPANS (ES) presented the results of their Changing Looks focus group before showing an emotional video that illustrated the application of co-production in the form of a play involving users of services and professionals.
Sylvie Bonne and Ali Freddi from APEMH (LU) explained their group activity called "We explain – We are the experts" that focused on new ways of learning: interactive and inclusive learning situations where the service user plays the active part. This led to the development of guided tours with a co-productive approach, pointing out the strengths and the weaknesses that emerged during the evaluation phase.
Regina Senarclens deGrancy (Lebenshilfe) presented the results of their "self-advocacy in the political context" focus group held in Vienna. The focus group worked on how to create a co-productive and inclusive atmosphere in meetings between service users and decision makers in the political setting.
Francesca Tagliatti, Simona Nanni, Matteo Massa, and Marco Tralli gave an account of all the activities initiated within the focus groups supported by CADIAI that considered how to improve the quality of life in independent living through the creation of common rules: rights and duties. These activities led to the drafting of the 'Decalogue' of a 'good tenant', and to the creation of the Disco Pom that saw users and providers set up a real disco club on the outskirts of Bologna.
From OpenGroup, Gianni Mainardi presented the results of the activities focused on the development of a path to an independent life: imagining our home together outside the family. In particular, this involved the organisation of a 'Tortellini focus group' experience that resulted in the production of more than 3kgs of tortellini!!!
The panel was concluded by the intervention of Claudio Tartari, who offered the point of view of a parent involved in the co-productive methodology.
This session concluded with Dylan Hoogewys who presented DeLork activities that focused on learning, growing & "blooming": creating opportunities for personal development.
This focus-group session was really touching as it showed the results of co-production in terms of the independence and self-confidence of users of services, and the significance and importance of implementing such methodologies in the co-design, co-delivery and co-evaluation of services.
The final session of the Conference was dedicated to the discussion of the future of co-production and users' involvement in learning methodologies. The discussion focused on 3 main questions
- what is the added value of co-production (participative methodology) and what do you perceive to be the barriers to its adoption in human services?
- you have seen what we can do working together in coproduction. Why do we not always work together like this?
- when you go back to work - what is the first thing you will do to help people do more coproduction?
The round-table was co-chaired by Dr Roger Banks (President EAMHID) and Dylan Hoogewys (DeLork) with the participation of Catherine Naughton (European Disability Forum), Franca Guglielmetti (President CADIAI cooperative); Marco Lombardo (Bologna City Council, Responsible for EU and International Affairs); Frank Sioen (European Network for Independent Living); Leda Stott (European Social Fund); Lieve Dekempeneer (President DeLork).
Leda Stott started from her experience as Partnership expert for the European Social Fund and the recognition of co-production as an important working methodology that puts people at the centre and supports the aim of working more through partnership. Co-production is based on the acceptance of diversity, different groups coming together to represent their desires, their aspirations, their needs; its added value, for individuals and for society as a whole, comes not just from the results but from the process. She was also impressed by the interventions of the users or services in the previous panel as it showed people expressing their emotions and their feelings, something that we often forget when we talk about methodologies.
Frank Sioen recognised that the value of co-production resides in its capacity to bring out creativity in both users and service providers. We are not used to working co-productively but to foster this methodology we should encourage service providers to work in this direction. Service providers and users can become catalysts of change through adopting this approach.
Marco Lombardo talked about Ed Roberts, the first student with severe disabilities to attend the University of California, Berkeley, and a pioneering leader of the disability rights movement. Previously he did not know who Mr Roberts was until a young lady wrote to the President of the Republic to ask for the introduction of Ed Robert's story in the main school books. This letter prompted Marco to research the history of Ed Roberts, from which he came to understand that the fight for simple rights of people with disabilities are not battles for individual rights, but battles for the rights of an entire community. In this sense, co-production and users' involvement methodologies can play a major role, in particular for policy makers.
Catherine Naughton talked of the importance of co-production providing a very practical way for service providers to sit with people with disabilities and talk about how to work together in addressing their needs.
Lieve Dekempeneer talked about the experience of DeLork and their recognition that co-production has a positive impact on users. She believes that it is absolutely necessary to work in a co-productive way if service providers want to develop services in a sustainable way.
Franca Guglielmetti drew on the successful experience of CADIAI within ENABLE and recognised that co-production has very positive effects and creates a very effective environment for service providers. It helps in setting a path for transforming (co-produced) decisions into concrete actions. Services are more oriented towards the care system, but if we want to invest in co-production we should invest in training for service providers, so we can move from the culture of caring to the culture of co-production.
Roger Banks concluded the round-table by returning to what was initially said about the feelings and emotions of sharing this work together; sharing feelings is an important thing that co-production can bring.
The Conference concluded with the final remarks of Roger Banks, Catherine Naughton, and Raymond Ceccotto.