Social work and co-production in Northern Ireland

Fifth edition publication in the Office of Social Service’s Reflections series
Published: November 2021

Foreword by Sean Holland

Co-production is a Department of Health priority, set out in the Co-production Guide (DOH, 2018). The Department is clear that co-production must become part of the fabric of service development and delivery; services improve when they are co-produced.

At the time of writing this Reflection, supporting people with lived experience to be involved in co-producing services and strengthening social work has never been more important. Social work is and has always been about relationship based practice and relationships are fundamental to co-production.

This edition of Reflections was co-produced during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been co-written by people with lived and learned experience of social work services. The pandemic created huge challenges for all in staying connected and co-producing.

The range of voices captured throughout this edition and the breadth of material covered reflects the strength of connection and commitment to co-production in social work in Northern Ireland. The group have embraced digital working and the way in which they have co-written this edition is testament to the values and practice of co-production.

This is a Reflection for social workers and people with lived experience of using and receiving social work services. I encourage you to read it and apply the knowledge and experience within to your own practice and situation and, crucially, to the commissioning, planning, delivery and review of social work services.

Sean Holland
Chief Social Work Officer