A network for co-production practitioners
Although we’re now marching steadily forward into 2012, my mind has been reflecting recently on the successes of 2011. In particular, the huge growth in how the concept of co-production is being researched and developed. Across practice and policy, local authorities, providers and user led organisations, co-production has become increasingly well known and favoured as a model of public sector reform. It’s not yet close to becoming the ‘norm’, but there is definitely a critical mass of people and organisations building the movement for co-production across the UK. I wanted to use this blog post to reflect on how far we came last year, and what the priorities facing us in 2012 are.
Two years ago, the co-production practitioners’ network had 30 members. As of today, it has over 535 members, and local groups have been set up in Scotland, London, Manchester and the North West, the West Midlands, the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales. They comprise of a huge variety of members, from front line workers to commissioners, researchers, user led organisations and the third sector. Many of these groups are raising local awareness of co-production, developing new research agendas and pushing forward co-production at a local level. The network has a huge range of members, with a slight weight towards health and social care, and an increasing number of medium to large providers, and local authority members.
Nationally, many Whitehall departments have picked up on the idea. The DCLG has formed a group looking at co-production, and an interesting viewpoint was recently published by Housing LIN which explored how to develop mutual support and social capital among groups of older people. Think Local Act Personal’s National Co-production Advisory Group has been central in co-producing guidance and recommendations for the sector partnership, TLAP.
There are also national programmes, such as Nesta’s People Powered Health programme which is looking at how to scale up co-production in long term health conditions, and time banks are being given a great push forwards by a number of innovative funders and local authorities.
At nef HQ we have been busy presenting to the VODG group on co-production, and hosting seminars on co-production and housing, and co-production and health, with local practitioners keen to develop the thinking in these sectors.
More and more local authorities are coming to us requesting presentations and guidance on developing co-production locally as an alternative to salami slicing. The Lambeth Living Well Collaborative is a great example of how a group of local agencies are developing a shared vision of co-production across the borough, and taking active steps to change how services work so that they are more co-produced.
Key individuals have also helped push the agenda forward. Catriona Ness and Fiona Garven have been instrumental in developing the Scottish co-production network; Ruth Dineen has launched the co-production resource, and James Duggan and Governance International have been key in developing the local Manchester and West Midlands networks respectively. Organisations such as Look Ahead have begun to develop new and innovative approaches to co-production, while academics such as Catherine Needham continue to write brilliant analyses on what co-production means for the state.
The sense of momentum around co-production has grown enormously, and there are many continuing to develop the practice of co-production on the ground.
So, to round off, here are the questions and key activities I would like to see developed in 2012:
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