Boingboing blogs from… the Resilience Forum!

Co-production in resilience research: many reasons why it’s great! – Mikey Reynolds, Dominic Steel and Anne Rathbone – Brighton Resilience Forum – Wednesday 16 March 2016

by Angie Hart, Boingboing volunteer and blogger

Yippee! Co-production in resilience research and why it’s great is on the bill for today’s Resilience Forum. Anne Rathbone, PhD student in the Boingboing group at the University of Brighton, has been working with Arts Connect, a group supporting people with learning disabilities through Arts Practices, for 18 months now. They’re doing a co-inquiry group on resilience. She’s at the podium, along with Mikey and Dominic from Arts Connect.

When we say “at the podium”, that’s not quite how it was. Actually Anne, Dominic & Mikey are trying to do a presentation in the democratic spirit of the Resilience Forum. Tricky for Anne not to talk more and lead it all, but the boys held their own. We heard all about the Sun & Clouds game, which the group came up with to help themselves and other young people explore resilience and ways to make things better in their lives. Anne didn’t boast about the research council grants we got to support this co-production work, so we’ll just slip that one in now.

Sun and clouds game

Dominic and Mikey did a great job of helping Anne explain how to play the Sun & Clouds game. A swanky new version is going to be co-produced thanks to our super-creative new friends in the University’s Arts School (Nick Gant & Co).

Our valiant trio explained how the project has created new spaces, putting people together who don’t usually meet. One example was Dominic giving a Cambridge Professor, someone he wouldn’t otherwise have met, a run for his money over the finer points of archaeology at a research conference we were at. It was a total joy to witness. We were then treated to the fab film the group has made on co-production and developing their resilience.

The audience asked about who could join Arts Connect. One participant asked about whether someone with challenging behaviour could go to the group. We were hoping that Mikey and Dominic weren’t too upset by that question.

Someone else asked if we had an international dimension to our work. Another chance for young people to shine. The work of Arts Connect and other young people’s groups has had a massive impact on conference delegates in Malaysia, for example, some people who came along said that people with learning disabilities didn’t go out of the house much over there, let alone co-run a PhD project. Before we get too boastful though, we need to remember just how few resources people have elsewhere to make things happen.

They rounded off the talk with a bit of thinking about resilience as “Beating the odds whilst changing the odds”. A frequent refrain in the Boingboing clan. The group is working on their own resilience as well as trying to challenge wider structures, for example, going to see the bus depot about improving transport for people with learning disabilities more broadly, not just learning to put up with the inadequate transport system as it is.

Friendship and belonging were picked out as seriously important in terms of developing resilience. Changing ignorance and discrimination is a key aim of the group. And they are keen to get stuck in with challenging austerity measures. For example, Mikey’s band did a song about the cuts to services for people with learning disabilities. It was on the news and made some money to keep support projects going.

As a final exercise people were encouraged (bribed with chocolate) to reveal which bits of the Resilience Framework were working well in their lives, which needed more work and which weren’t working at all. It was really interesting to hear the ways in which people could apply the Resilience Framework to their own home or work lives, even if they were brand new to the Resilience Forum. Future speakers please note, the chocolate worked very well to encourage audience participation… hint hint… (but only the 80% cocoa version to be in keeping with the healthy diet compartment on our Resilience Framework).


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