You know the feeling. The one you get immediately after going for a job interview. Anxiously waiting for the phone call to tell you that you were good, but just not as good as the other person. Yeah, that.
Well, it's happened to me a few times since November. Interview after interview, application after application. And just as I’m about to focus more energy down yet another path, the phone rings. The sinking feeling’s back and…like I said, I was good, but just not quite good enough.
And then everything changed.
My name’s Scotty and I’ve been about a bit in terms of work and life experience. But I’ve always felt that at some point, I’d be a part of improving the situation for our homeless community. So, I applied for a team leader role at Simon on the Streets.
As it turns out, it was the right interview, the right organisation, but the wrong job. I was definitely good enough, and I was offered a role that I would have wanted way more than the Team Leader role. A job that fits my skills and passions. A job for an organisation that facilitates the kind of work I have a deep and burning passion to do.
And that's how I became the new co-production lead here at Simon on the Streets.
It’s my job to help Simon on the Streets work alongside the service user population, and other stakeholders, to elevate their voice and influence. After all, how can you improve a situation if you don’t consult the people living it on a day-to-day basis?
Co-production has so many benefits. Benefits like creating more diverse services co-designed around the needs and wants of the service user population. Co-production enables better relationships built around common purposes, shared skills and capabilities, as well as growing the confidence of those getting involved.
There are many more benefits, more than I can write about here. So I’ll be writing a blog every month to let you know what’s going on and how it’s going.
It’s simple. In all the years I needed a service like Simon on the Streets, services either weren't there, didn’t fit me, or I didn’t meet the criteria. The thing is, nobody ever asked me. Nobody ever asked “what do you need from a service?” or “What do you think about x, y or z?”
I’ve harboured that driver for years, and I started to understand why service user Involvement, influence and co-production should be at the centre of any service and organisation offering to help.
I mean, think about it: the private sector has always had customer service and market research. Companies actually pay people to test products and go into stores and be a mystery shopper. So why should the 3rd sector, those organisations helping our homeless and vulnerable communities, be any different? At the end of the day the service is the product and service users are the customers.
It’s that very same driver that’s taken me down the path of immersing myself in all things co-production. I seek to understand because I want to be understood.
I’ve worked alongside organisations to create, design, deliver and evaluate big projects that are really going to make a difference. For example, the Fulfilling Lives project, the aim of which was to deliver a complex needs offer across West Yorkshire.
I’ve led passion projects, such as co-producing a pop-up dry bar and various music events. I’ve also done the same with a volunteer/peer Mentor service in a previous role.
But what I’m really looking forward to now, in this role, is the innovation that comes with a blank canvas. Watching mighty oaks grow from the proverbial acorn. And one of my favourite things? Working with the people. Everyone has something to offer, and everyone has an equal seat at the table to make that offer.
So, watch this space! Look out for my blogs detailing everything that service users are capable of and showing that they are more than the label that the homeless deficit has placed upon them.
Until next time, keep smiling.