Co-Production: from another piece of jargon to a game-changing approach

Listen to each other...I feel pride in the work we've all done together. We rise by lifting others 

Nicholas Bettis, North Wales Together Co-Production team

Our Associate, Mark John-Williams, is an expert in facilitating co-production, as well as creating circles of support and person-centred practice.

Today, Mark celebrates the successes of co-production, working alongside Neil AylingChief Officer for Flintshire and North Wales Together Programme host, in North Wales. Neil and his fellow co-producers have produced a film called 'Let's Talk Co-Production', in which they share their top tips. You can view the film below.




Image: Neil Ayling, CO Flintshire 

'Co-production is an essential principle of the Social Services and Well Being Act 2014, but how many of us have truly got to grips with its application? How many of us have gone from talking the talk to walking (or wheeling) the walk? 

As a former Director of the Co-Production Network for Wales, I had a unique opportunity to see firsthand what efforts were being taken forward around the country. Then, in 2019, I joined the North Wales Together Transformation Team. At the heart of the Learning Disability Strategy (2018-23) is a statement of intent: ‘to achieve our vision we need to co-produce services with people with learning disabilities and their parents/carers and share power and responsibility for making these changes’. As a team, we set out as we meant to go on, by ensuring that we were all trained in the practice of Co-production and Asset Based Approaches.

Following this, we have set out to always challenge each other in our team meetings, as to how well we are applying the approach and building the culture. All of our work has embraced the ‘nothing about us without us’, mantra, so everything we do has citizens at the centre.

All funding decisions have involved people with a learning disability, and we have insisted that funded projects are co-produced and encourage meaningful roles and involvement. So far, this has translated to over 150 opportunities, including individuals working as coordinators, social media and online activity facilitators and Facebook hosts, trainers, health champions, film makers, podcasters, quality checkers and a programme board co-chair. In alignment with this complete ‘Co-pro’ approach, we are developing this as an Alternative Delivery Model (ADM), recently re-named as the Alliance of Decision Makers.

Coming back to the need to ‘walk the walk’, I think that one of the unintended consequences of the pandemic has been our new-found embracing of alternative communication: we have ‘Zoomed’ into a new world. It has meant that our leaders have been sharing screens (and power) with citizens.

Neil Ayling, Chief Officer for Flintshire and North Wales Together Programme host, has been on his own transformational journey. Previously seeing someone like myself as an internal agitator – asking the awkward questions – he is now the biggest supporter of true Co-production: “Co-production is absolutely essential. It achieves the best results and gets things done. I really enjoy it and when I come out of meetings I feel better – it is good for ALL OF US!”'


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