Co-production blogs

Co-production: The Making of Bristol’s Share Talk and Remember Group

Following on from the first blog post introducing The Ageing Better Co-production Project “Capturing Ageing Better’s Co-production Journey!", we're really pleased to share Bristol Ageing Better's (BAB) Share, Talk and Remember Group.

By Imogen Parker · May 1, 2020

This week’s blog features Bristol Ageing Better (BAB), who share the incredible co-production story of local communities coming together to create, deliver and grow a network of much needed support for older people facing bereavement and loss.

Over the next coming months the co-production project will follow the journey of the STAR (Share, Talk and Remember) group as they expand. In following such a wonderful programme, we will learn what makes their formula so successful, and share the mix of ingredients that are enabling this group to embed a completely peer-led sustainable model across Bristol’s local communities. Claire Chivers, Learning and Monitoring Officer with BAB, dedicates herself to sharing the learning from this group. She tells us how it all started, what the STAR group has achieved so far and about their future hopes and plans.

“An Amazing example of co-production good practice”

Community development projects have been a huge part of the Bristol Ageing Better programme. Using an asset-based approach, these projects work with the skills and strengths available in a community and support individuals to take the lead in setting up and running their own activities.

One peer-lead group stands out as an amazing example of co-production good practice. The Stockwood STAR is a bereavement peer-led support group run by the community, for the community, with support from Jan Perry. Jan initially supported the group in her role as a community development worker for St Monica Trust, and has since taken on the role of coordinating the group as a local resident and by sharing the model as a freelance trainer

The wish for this group emerged from Jan’s conversations with residents within the local community. Following these conversations, she used ‘Nextdoor’ (a national neighbourhood online resource) to find other residents who were interested in setting the group up and took a leading role. Jan supported the STAR team by enabling them to lay down strong foundations for the group. For example, encouraging them to share out roles and responsibilities. These foundations ensured the group could become self-sustainable in the long term.

There are currently 6 residents involved in leading the group, and a further 6 who receive support. The project was initiated in April 2019 and opened its doors to the community in October 2019. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength – engaging interest from local people by word of mouth and receiving referrals from social prescribing services and other support agencies. One member shares her experience of first taking part:

“After coming to the group for the first time, I actually slept through the whole night…the first time I’ve slept properly since I lost my husband! I felt peaceful inside. It was so lovely to be able to speak about how I was feeling without having to hold anything back in case I upset my son.”

Alongside their bi-monthly drop-in sessions, The Stockwood STAR group have plans to further develop their free service – they are aiming to offer a men’s group, art therapy, and a befriending service. The group are also sharing their model with other areas in the city. They will co-deliver introductory workshops via zoom and have received keen interest from at least 9 other Bristol neighbourhoods. Once the COVID-19 social distancing measures have been lifted, the group will co-deliver face-to-face training and connect interested residents from the same neighbourhood.

The Stockwood STAR group are hopeful that in the future, there might be lots of peer-led STAR groups across Bristol, providing residents with vital bereavement support from their peers.

Find out more about the creation of the Stockwood STAR group and the people that made it happen here.

Next up will be a series of mini blogs around “co-producing in a crisis’, sharing how Ageing Better partners and their communities have risen to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that older people continue to get the support they need. Ageing Better in Birmingham and Age Better in Sheffield will be first up to share their ideas, top tips and experiences. We will be hearing more from Bristol Ageing Better too!

Co-written by guest blogger Claire Chivers from Bristol Ageing Better and Vicky O’Donoghue Ageing Better Co-Production Project Lead.