As we end Co-Production Week (1st - 5th July, 2019),  we think about some of the examples of how we work in a co-produced way in bemix. We recently reviewed our Ethical Policy to make sure that everyone in the organisation (including our workforce and people we work alongside in our groups and projects) understand and have a say in the way we work. We thought about why we believe in our values - "We are Equal, People, Involved, Co-Workers", and how we put those into practice to make sure that our work achieves our vision of people with a learning difficulty and/or autism being seen, being heard and belonging.

Some people found it challenging to give examples of how we work in this co-produced way; "it's just something we do naturally".  But we got into the swing of it, sharing examples of our morning meetings (where everyone in the group decides who will take the lead on health and safety, managing the group finances and setting the focus of the day) and co-delivery of training wherever possible.  Co-production is about using the human skills and experiences we all have, and valuing each person's contribution.

We spoke to Sam Barnard, Risky Business Supporter and member of the Media Group and Discovery Catering, to find out how he takes co-production further than his work in bemix.

Read past interviews with Sam to find out how bemix worked with Sam years ago to find an acting agent. Since then, Sam has secured a paid job with bemix, supporting our performing arts group. Sam's direct experience as an actor with a learning difficulty is key to his role supporting the group, and bemix makes sure Sam can take time off when required to attend acting roles. 

 

Sam’s varied acting career is progressing well (see his showreel here) and other members of bemix are often interested to find out more about what it is like to be a professional actor. Seeing other people with learning difficulties and/or autism is essential in inspiring people to see what they can achieve. Although mainstream media has got better at including a more diverse representation of the population through public roles, people with learning difficulties and/or autism are still underrepresented. 

During one Media Group session, Sam explained what happened when he was asked to appear on the popular soap opera EastEnders.

 

"I have been a professional actor since 2007.  My agent texted my dad to say that there was a walk-on role in EastEnders being advertised.  On a Friday in February 2019, we went to the EastEnders set at Elstree Studios. I woke up at 5am because we had to be there by 8 am. Dad drove.  We had a quick bite to eat and then went to the set.  

I wore my own everyday clothes; I didn’t have to have makeup on or dress up.  The casting director told us when to be on set.  The producer told us what to do for filming.  There were loads of extras on set.  Me and dad had to walk past a memorial and a Chinese market stall.  This was for the 29th April episode.  Then for the 30th April episode Dad and I brought some fruit at the fruit and veg stall.

 

We were there for one day.  Dad and I got paid for that.  Dad also got paid petrol money for going there and back.  The main actors were friendly but didn’t talk to us because they were busy acting. We finished at 5pm then went home.  I enjoyed my time there and it was a very easy acting part.  It makes me feel happy to be an actor." - Sam

Pictured: Sam with fellow bemix member, Carmen