Forming an English Co-Production Network

Beth Perry (left) presents at the English Co-Production Network event. Slide (right) shows the covers of different outputs from Jam and Justice's ARC projects.

On 28 March 2019, people with a passion for co-producing gathered in central Manchester to explore the potential for an English Co-Production Network. The event was organised by Co:Create, a Sheffield-based outfit linked to South Yorkshire Housing Association and funded by the Department of Health to support co-production in commissioning. It also had support from University College London, where a new centre for research around co-production and health is in development.

Jam and Justice had three representatives in the room: ARC member and Coalitions for Change co-lead Alice Toomer-McAlpine documented the day using a mix of film and photography. We'll be sharing that output when it's ready. Our ESRC Impact Officer, Iona Hine, also attended, taking an active role in conversations about evaluating the impact of co-production and the needs of different audiences. Meanwhile, Beth Perry, one of Jam and Justice's academic leads and the UK lead for Mistra Urban Futures' Realising Just Cities shared key insights on forming an effective network.

Much of the day's activity was captured on Twitter using the hashtag #CoProEngland. The report below is courtesy of Co-Production Oxford's Danie Woodbridge, who has kindly given us permission to republish it here.

@daniewoodbridge writes: It was an inspiring day on 28 March, at the launch event for the #CoProEngland Network...

Lots of people who are already doing co-production, teaching and training, or even studying and researching co-production came together to discuss what a National Co-production Network could look like, and how we could make it happen.

We heard speakers from @copronetwales, Manchester (Jam and Justice), Sheffield and London (UCL) universities, and we shared our own experiences and insights from around the country and across sectors, in practicing co-production, many of which mirrored the learning we are having in Oxfordshire:

  • We need more ‘how’ to do co-production and not just ‘what’ it is.
  • We need a single national message on what we mean by impact, and outcomes.
  • We need to create tools for enabling people to overcome barriers to change.
  • Co-production doesn’t look like one thing - you don’t always want everyone in the room all of the time, it doesn’t work like that. Involvement has to be project appropriate.
  • We need to understand our data better, and how to measure change.
  • It really doesn’t have to be complicated, “just start talking to people!”
  • Leadership is not the enemy of participation, you just need a different leadership style”.

@OxonCopro, Oxfordshire’s co-production network, are looking forward to the next phase of learning, sharing and growing, and the impact that an English Co-production Network can bring to really changing our communities for the better.

A note on leadership
The final quotation in Danie's set of bullet points came from Beth's presentation, anticipating what may emerge from the Jam and Justice survey on Leadership and Co-Production (analysis still ongoing). As Beth said then, and explained with Liz and Catherine in setting up the survey, the desire to think and talk about the role of leadership in co-production emerged during Jam and Justice's action research. The quotation has been widely shared on social media, and we look forward to sharing the survey findings. 

A PDF version of Danie's original report is available to download below, as are the slides from Beth's presentation.