The NOW group is a multi-award winning social enterprise whose services support people with autism and learning difficulties to realise their full potential and change their lives for the better. Their services focus on supporting people into employment, training, transition and volunteering. Rejig first started working with NOW in 2014 when we helped capture the dreams of the participants about what they would like their future to be. This year we worked with NOW to build their own model of co-design to specifically meet their particular needs. They wanted to build an innovative model that can be used by the organisation to actively engage their service users and staff in the codesign of future services to ensure that those services are participant led, fit for purpose and deliver quality sustainable services.
We designed a model that focused on how to carry out empathy interviews with participants, encouraging service users to articulate their experiences of the service at NOW and explore what they might like to do differently/additionally. We then delivered a set of very practical workshops with staff where we shared our approach and gave them a hands-on experience of practising using the tools we had designed on each other. The next stage was for Michelle and I to carry out interviews with two of the participant groups while being observed by staff . This gave us the chance to “test on the end user” our prototyped tools. With a few tweaks and amendments based on our experience the next step was to have staff do the interviews themselves, with additional participants groups, while we observed.
To inject some fun into the insight gathering session for the participants and break up the need for them to always be answering questions we fell back on our old favourite - the paperclips. Armed with sharpies and some A3 paper we showed service users how to draw some birds with the paperclips and then encouraged them to make their own unusual connections. Sean did an amazing self portrait and we reckon that there could be an upcoming NOW calendar featuring paperclip portraits of all his friends in the Transition 2 group!