The ENABLE Project can be described as a two-year participatory process that saw 6 very committed partners work together in a co-productive way to test and promote co-production as a new participatory way to provide services for people with intellectual disability.
The co-production approach on which the ENABLE project has been developed is fundamentally rooted in addressing social injustice and inequity. Training and focus groups were approached from the standpoint of collaboration and partnerships that regard diversity and inclusion in training environments as vital assets that contribute to the richness, accessibility and effectiveness of learning and training activities.
The rationale behind the project was that co-production represents a unique opportunity to re-think the partnership between the state and the citizen through the redefinition of the role of service users, families, professionals and local community making them equal partners and engines of change within the production and delivery of social services. Partners worked together to implement the co-production methodology through dedicated focus groups, and the setting-up of the learning platform.
As for the focus groups, they were composed of users, families, educators, a service manager, a public administrator and the project manager. The partners selected a topic or a small-scale project that implemented through 2 official focus groups and several informal meetings. Three main topics were selected and developed within each focus group:
The Focus Groups have been an essential step in the creation of the Inclusive Training/Learning Platform on co-producing services for people with intellectual disability. The Platform is composed of two products:
The activities carried out and the results obtained had a relevant impact for all the stakeholders involved both at European level and in the Countries involved. Co-production gives a practical way for people organising services to sit down together with users and talk about how about do it together. It helps move from organising services forusers to organise services with users.
In particular, for service users ENABLE represented an opportunity to foster empowerment and self-esteem, as well as equal opportunities and active citizenship:
For the professionals, the project provided a new and challenging perspective, enabling them to develop a new set of skills and insights in the implementation of co-production. The ENABLE project represented an innovative approach in preparing professionals on equity, diversity and inclusion in the working and training environment. Several organisations involved changed they approach to services, making co-production one of the pillar of their offer.
For the local communitiesthe project meant the opportunity to promote inclusion and equal opportunities, in particular reducing discrimination and disadvantages.
After having successfully demonstrated the value of co-production, it is time to further investigate its potential through activities able to enhance the competences of service providers, foster social inclusion, and increase independence of people with disabilities.
The co-productive approach implemented during the ENABLE Project has highlighted the capacity of users to become protagonists and have an active role in projects, to generate new innovative ideas, to take a new look at themselves (with increased self-esteem) and in a general way, is has opened the door to new possibilities and further developments. This opens up new opportunities for the development of people’s employability and social inclusion.