By Naomi Gill, Capacity PSA, Service Support and Improvement Specialist for ourNCTservices projects
I’m a new face to the Knowledge and Service Development team, and it’s still wearing a smile – reflecting on the seriously productive day spent at the paid for 1:1 breastfeeding co-production team pilot review meeting in Birmingham at the end of September. My addition to the team is a complimentary role to my other NCT role as a Capacity PSA. It sees me bringing my working knowledge of operational policies, processes and systems to support ourNCTservices projects.
It was comforting to join my friend, colleague and fellow pilot team member Lucy Joyce for the train journey from our home town of Leicester to Birmingham. I first met Lucy nine years ago, when I moved back from London to my home town, heavily pregnant with my first child, at NCT Leicester Branch’s Bumps and Babies group and drop-in. She ran it with my sister. Nine years of ongoing branch involvement for me – including stints in every conceivable branch volunteer role – meant we could enjoy an animated catch-up about work, children and life as we trained it over to Brum.
Hosted by Gowling WLG, in a glass office set amidst an expansive atrium, it was a contrast from the home office environment, apart from perhaps the rain! We had five hours and one packed agenda to tackle:
- Review timescales and progress
- Lone worker policy – agree streamlined approach for remainder of the pilot
- Booking & payment processes – what should we do for the rest of the pilot?
- Supporting free/subsidised breastfeeding support
- What’s the difference between a voluntary and paid for visit?
Key team decisions were required. After a thought-provoking warm-up exercise by Sophie where we mind-mapped both our current internal thoughts and preoccupations, as well as our hopes for the day on another – the sharing of which prompted both tears and laughter – I felt we were both bonded and ready for a collaborative day.
The meeting really flew by – fuelled by breastfeeding counsellor Louise Oliver’s doughnuts. These kicked off a day of necessary and ongoing refreshment to keep us on track. The discussions were in-depth, with balanced and considered input which propelled us forward to arrive at decisions we needed to make. I felt both personally and professionally welcomed and supported, especially when leading the session on the possibilities for our payment and booking process. Here I showcased a process map and exploration of available alternative systems and processes for the project. Great questions and insightful contributions from all of the team helped us to develop and agree both a SWOT and improvement plan for our existing 18-step process. The energetic session pace was balanced by a reflective discussion around the differences between voluntary and paid for visits, which was fascinating for me as a non-practitioner.
As I smile, I am relishing how the day provided me with a map of a new service growing in different ways and defining itself along the way through dedicated work and thorough analysis. I can still feel that buzz of co-production satisfaction gained from coming together with the group, sharing different experiences and viewpoints and digesting our feedback to make decisions that moved the project forward and planned its future shape. I have always embraced and valued NCT’s co-production ethos – attending ourNCTservices workshops, the Joint Weekend where PSAs and Senior Practitioners (and volunteers) come together – and value of this was only further cemented for me by this round-the-table day meeting.