UCL Library, Culture, Collections & Open Science


Working with our partners in London

We work in partnership with local communities to create impact and deliver the mission of UCL, London’s Global University.

Case studies

Orwell Summer School

Sharing the value of co-production

Co-Production Collective completed a project analysing the positive impact of co-production for individuals, organisations and society.

They have defined co-production as “an approach to working together in equal partnership and for equal benefit”. The findings show that co-production can be both a valid ‘method’ or way of doing research, policy or service development and an intervention, while recognising it does not work for all activities.

They found that co-production has the following benefits:

  • Delivering outcomes that actually matter to people.
  • Efficiency, in the long run.
  • Working towards social justice.
  • Empowering people and building capacity*.
  • Connecting us as humans, working towards shared goals.

*People reported as part of this research that they felt empowered by co-production.

Alongside the community of co-producers, they worked with partners including People’s Voice Media, The Institute of Community Reporters (ICR), Curators for Change, Gobby Surveys and the UCL Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre).

Together they undertook multiple approaches including surveying people involved in co-production, capturing people’s stories about co-production using the Community reporting method, a rapid review of academic studies and an analysis of ‘lessons learned’ from their pilot projects.

Co-production participants

Over 700 people were involved in the project. This includes 100 community storytellers who shared their experiences through community reporting, a methodology developed by the ICR. In addition, 573 online surveys were submitted with a good spread across the different roles associated with co-production.

They also created three case studies based on the pilot projects from 2018-20 which provide examples of good co-production and can inform further good practice. These include Maternity Voices Matter, a project run with NHS partners and a bilingual family support service in London to co-produce a project researching the ‘seldom-heard’ experiences of black and minoritized women’s maternity care.

“We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without those organisations we co-produced with, and there’s no way they would have even thought about doing it, let alone been able to. Together we are stronger, alone there is only so much we can do.”

Member of Maternity Voices Matter.

The findings were shared in a variety of ways to ensure participants can access and engage in the ways most suitable to them.

You can find out more including recommendations from this research on their Value of Co-Production webpage, which includes the Value of Co-Production interactive summary document [PDF] published in October 2022 and video extracts from the interviews.

Co-production in practice.

Using the George Orwell Archive to inspire secondary school students

The Special Collections Outreach team developed a new web resource to help schools and school students access and gain inspiration from the UNESCO registered Orwell Archive, housed in UCL Special Collections. 

The Orwell Archive is an often accessed, popular collection with readers, but there is little evidence of readers using their research for secondary school teaching. This is despite the Orwell Archive presenting an invaluable and unique opportunity to support the teaching of popular texts like Animal Farm and 1984. Time and awareness can act as barriers to many teachers. It was thought a free online digital resource would go some way to overcome this barrier, alongside increasing awareness of the Archive itself among teaching staff and pupils.

Building on their longstanding relationship with The Orwell Youth Prize, the Outreach team devised a programme that offered Year 12 pupils based in London the opportunity to attend a Widening Participation funded Summer School in July and August 2022. This provided pupils an extended opportunity to engage with UCL’s collections and to make meaningful comparisons between Orwell’s experiences as a journalist and those of contemporary journalists, as well as find present-day applications of Orwell’s principles and skills as a writer.
Guest speakers Stephen Armstrong, Marianna Spring and Max Daly gave invaluable insight into life as a journalist today, as well as offering advice and encouragement to the cohort of young writers.

“We were delighted to work with UCL Special Collections on this Summer School, for so many reasons. At the Orwell Youth Prize, we’re always trying to find new ways to get young people excited and inspired by the life and work of George Orwell, and his profound continuing relevance today. Special Collections provided the fantastic opportunity to share the Orwell Archive with the Summer School participants, allowing them to get up close and personal, exploring manuscripts, diaries and photographs. This direct experience really helped the participants to develop a deeper understanding of Orwell as a man and a writer, and we felt very lucky to be able to offer this. We were also so pleased that some of the Summer School participants went on to enter the Orwell Youth Prize this year, bringing everything together. It felt like a really fruitful and productive partnership and we’re looking forward to more collaborations in the future!”

Tabby Hayward, Orwell Youth Prize Programme Coordinator.

The Summer School cohort were asked to find a topic that they were passionate about and to write a persuasive, argumentative piece that spotlit their own voice, using Orwell’s principles of clarity, directness and language economy. They provided powerful articles, three of which you can read on the Special Collections blog.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otHpn_bK9ks


Following the Summer School, the Outreach team created a short film and written resource that features items from the archive alongside activities to develop learners’ understanding of Orwell, his legacy within the world of journalism and why his writing is still considered so powerful today. These are freely available online.

This year the team also marked the 120th anniversary of George Orwell’s birth in 1903 with a series of online posts and videos. Orwell’s biographer D.J. Taylor presented a short TikTok video, filmed in the Main Library, on the letters Orwell sent to Brenda Salkeld and Eleanor Jacques, which had recently been donated to the archive by Orwell’s son Richard Blair. They revealed new information on the author’s emotional life, which he was able to include in the second edition of his well-received biography.

Orwell in the Archive - Free School Resources

These resources are available to anyone on the UCL Special Collections webpages.