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VOICES Project

The Wirral VOICES event was commissioned by Parent Carer Participation Wirral (PCPW), the Wirral’s Director of Children’s Services, Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England. This project brought together key representatives from Education, Health and Social Care and included parent carers, children and young people. By involving everyone as an equal partner and focusing upon strengths and skills, the intention was to establish a whole Wirral community approach to inclusion that ensures the experience of the children and young people of the Wirral is at the heart of all that happens. It was hoped that an outcome of the project would be a whole community Inclusion Charter which would enable services and service users in Wirral to trust and value each other. Through effective participation, the aim was to provide cohesive and coherent services, leading to higher satisfaction with those services and better value for money.

The organisation commissioned to deliver VOICES was Genuine Partnerships. A friendly, Rotherham-based team made up of skilled practitioners, parent carers and young people with a diverse range of experiences which models and inspires inclusive practice and co-production. The team builds upon, celebrates good practice, and promotes the meaningful involvement of parent carers, children and young people in decisions that affect them at individual, organisational and strategic levels.

In which way were partners working together? 

We worked in Co-production: Children, young people, parents, carers and services worked together as equals to make a change. Everybody’s experiences, voices and ideas had the same value. All partners worked together to identify what needed to change or be developed, how it should change, and checked whether the change has made a difference.

Why was the project set up?

The VOICES event aim was to start a lengthy process of transformation to improve the experiences of, and outcomes for, children, young people and their families. By inviting young people and parent carers as well as key practitioners from Education, Health and Social Care it started a dialogue that would form the foundations from which greater co-production could emerge. The event allowed for honest, open communication both within separate focus groups by area and as a whole community of partners. Further collaboration would be needed in order to carry the momentum forward, as well as a firm commitment from strategic leadership to genuinely invest in this way of working. The day was truly immersive. By having young people and parent carers present it encouraged co-production from the start.

Who was involved at each stage of the project and what was their role?

At the event there was excellent representation from a range of partners:

Representatives from the Local Area from each of the following six key groups: Young People, Parent Carers, Schools and Settings, Local Authority (LA) Education, Social Care and Health.

Young People

Six young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and seven adults. Three of the young people were from a mainstream secondary school, two were from the SEND Youth Group and one was the Young Person’s Ambassador for SEND from Birkenhead 6th Form College.

Parent Carers

Eight attendees, seven of whom were members of PCPW and one representative from Wirral SEND Partnership.

Schools and Settings

Seven attendees including Home Schooling Coordinator for a primary and secondary school & member of the Community Matters Team (supporting Early Help); Head Teacher, mainstream primary school with two ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) bases; Consultant Head Teacher for primary schools; Apprenticeship and Skills Manager, 14-19 Service; Deputy Head Teacher, specialist provision for primary complex needs; SENDCo*, mainstream secondary school with MLD (Moderate Learning Difficulties) resource provision; Head Teacher, nursery school and family centre.

LA Education

Ten attendees including Assistant Director of Children’s Services; Co-production Lead; Senior Educational Psychologist; 2 SEN/EHCP Team Managers; Local Offer Lead, KIND Team Representative; Strategic Manager for Improving Outcomes; Independent Speech and Language Therapist; Representative from SEND Complaints; Chair of School Governors.

Social Care

Six attendees including Deputy Director Children’s Social Care; Assistant Director Early Help and Prevention Social Care; Service Manager Early Years Social Care; Divisional Manager NHS-Adults; Children with Disabilities Team Manager, NHS; Team Manager Children in Care and Care Leavers.


Seven attendees including Designated Clinical Officer, CCG; Designated Medical Officer; Member of the Complex Nurse Team; Service Lead, NHS; CAMHS Lead; Learning Disabilities Nurse; Service Lead, Wirral Community Trust.

How did the project embody each of the Co-Production values?    

They use the Four Cornerstones model of inclusive practice and co-production.             

Key features of the Wirral process

  • A series of 6 planning meetings took place
  • Evening workshop led by Wirral’s SEND Youth Group involving creative dance performances and focus groups exploring the Four Cornerstones and what they mean for them
  • Introduction and presentation by Young People from Woodchurch High School
  • Presentation and mixed group activities (building relationships) modelling co-production:
  • Focus group interviews with each representative group
  • Presentation and mixed group activity promoting inclusion
  • Wirral co-production action-planning activity around the Four Cornerstones: What’s going well in your Local Area? What could be even better?
  • Feedback report to support next steps in developing a whole community approach to inclusion

How did different partners benefit from working together? 

People came together during the VOICES event to celebrate what is going well in Wirral and to share their dreams for the future as well as, at times, some difficult personal stories. There was agreement about potential areas for development and ways forward and some common thoughts about the progress already made and particular community strengths.

Towards the end of the VOICES event, all partners were asked to consider the Four Cornerstones again and to work collaboratively in mixed groups or however they felt most comfortable. They were tasked with starting to co-produce an action plan for the Wirral which along with a Co-production Charter was completed.


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