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Co-production Works specialist co-production support for organisations

About the project

Co-production Works is a consultancy which specialises in supporting organisations across public services to work in co-production with people who use services, carers and citizens.

Recent clients have included: IMProving Adult Care Together (IMPACT) Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau, Birmingham University, West Berkshire Council, National Survivor/User Network (NSUN) and Manchester Metropolitan University.

What has co-production meant to the project?

The Co-production Works approach to co-production is rooted in the Disabled Peoples and Mental Health User/Survivor movements’ ideas and thinking. Co-production Works also uses models and understandings developed by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and New Economics Foundation (NEF).

It’s important that we co-produce co-production, so that in all the projects that Co-production Works undertakes we aim to involve people who use services at every stage. For example, when we developed a training course for staff who work in care leaver services, we did this with young people with care experience. Or when we developed a co-production approach for IMPACT we formed a working group consisting of people who draw on social care services, carers and professionals to guide the work.

What has helped in implementing a co-production approach?

  • Using the SCIE principles of co-production – equality, diversity, accessibility, and reciprocity.
  • Having a good understanding of power – usually people who draw on services will have less power and resources than professionals. Co-production is a process in which we try to create a level playing field: this means being aware of power, who has it and who does not.
  • Involving people who draw on social care services, and carers, at the earliest opportunity.
  • Co-production is all about relationships. So, spending time at the beginning of projects getting to know the people and organisations we are working with pays dividends in the long term.
  • Making sure that everyone involved has a shared understanding of co-production.
  • Setting clear expectations and making sure all working groups have clear terms of reference.

What difficulties were there in implementing co-production?

Every organisation and project is different and presents a unique set of challenges in the implementation of co-production. Co-production involves working in new ways and developing new habits. It involves a shift in power. So, in every project there are challenges to overcome. One common issue is the difficulty organisations have paying people who are on benefits.

What are the main strengths in the approach that has been taken?

The Co-production Works approach benefits from lead consultant Pete Fleischmann’s 30 years of experience in the field of involvement, participation, and empowerment. During this time Pete has worked with a very diverse range of organisations and groups. Pete is equally comfortable working with large complex organisations with multiple stakeholders and with small community groups who have limited resources.

Real change takes time, so Co-production Works always works at a pace the client is comfortable with. The Co-production Works approach is highly principled but also flexible.

How has the project worked to engage all sections of the community?

Co-production Works always makes proactive efforts to include a diverse range of voices and to ensure that no one is excluded from participation. We have undertaken successful projects in some of the most diverse parts of England, including the London Boroughs of Brent and Lambeth. In each project, care has been taken to include diverse voices and seldom-heard groups.

Co-production Works has experience of engaging with a wide range of people including care-experienced young people, people with learning difficulties, mental health users/survivors, disabled people, refugees, and LGBTQI people.

Related project resources

Co-production Works