A new social contract for sustainability: Schumacher conference

Just returned from the 2-day conference run by the Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems in Bristol. The theme was “A  new social contract for sustainability”. Tons of brains and energy in the same room, great programme and facilitation (and lovely food to keep us fuelled up). Participation and co-production were mentioned, in the context of social models and of implementing durable change. Many fruitful discussions occurred and there are potential exciting partnerships and collaborations in the pipeline, so watch this space!



Connected localism: a collection of essays

Thanks to Matthew Gatehouse for pointing out this recent article in the Guardian: “Connecting citizens is the way forward for public services“, written by Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit. Not news for colleagues and co-production practitioners, but another piece that helps build the case for co-pro. So, to be celebrated!

The article references “Connected Localism”, a collection of essays published this week by the Local Government Information Unit. The document is available for download at http://www.lgiu.org.uk/connected-localism/

“Connected localism is proposed as a way of thinking and doing that builds on the creativity and civic energy of local people and connects it to a dynamic network of innovation and strategic governance.”

It might not be labelled as co-production, but as we always say, we’re not attached to the word but to the principles. And this is very clearly going in the right direction.


Co-production Practitioners’ Network – 4th meeting in South Wales

Today’s co-production network meeting for the South Wales area was hosted by United Welsh at their offices in Caerphilly and what a fab event it was! The presentations were all totally inspiring and packed chock full with tons of info. Here are some highlights…


With the example of tenants, now in employment, who are willing and able to speak about their experience of the programme to other tenants at an event: “It’s good to receive services as well as provide them. Saying ‘we want you to help us’ has made a big difference.” ~ Steve Cranston, speaking about The Together approach implemented by United Welsh Housing Association. A programme which, incidentally, has been cost neutral thanks to more effective use of existing resources.


“We don’t have numbers for it, but it definitely feels like there’s a culture change happening – the language is changing.” ~ Jenny O’Hara Jakeway of Glyncoch Communities First, speaking about co-designing a lifelong learning and poverty alleviation strategy using the FAST (Families And Schools Together) approach. This led to some comments about compiling updates and stories via social media as evidence, and the work of Dave Snowdon on analysing narratives and how “culture is embedded in the stories people tell each other”.


“The way to overcome the resistance is to bring people together, and let them share their stories.” ~ Loveday Allen of Saint Fagans’ National History Museum, explaining how reluctant members of the museum administrative team were won over to a co-productive approach by sharing time, food and activities with volunteers.

Youth Forum:

“Participation means that it is my right to be involved in making decisions, planning and reviewing an action that might affect me.” ~ Maria Jones of Bron Afon Housing Association was accompanied by Tom, Sian and Suzy of Afon Youth Forum (who presented, and several other members who were present also). The Youth Forum (200 young members of Bran Afon, aged 11 to 25) works towards promoting a positive image of young people. The sheer number of projects, energy, and achievements of the Youth Forum are totally staggering. They are very, very VERY inspiring indeed. Here are links to some of their videos (which is only one aspect of their multi-talented capabilities): Out of my hands (2’07), an ITV broadcast (4’52), and a flashmob in Cardiff (2’47).

I was struck by not only the quality of the presentations and their richness of information, but also the willingness of the presenters to share past challenges, how they overcame them, and learnings derived from the process. They were also open about asking for  information, tips and techniques, support or cooperative partnerships of the audience – which they received. This is what the network is there for!

A reminder to all our readers that the Co-production Practitioners’ Network is open to all, and anyone who is involved in – or interested in – “doing co-production” is warmly invited to join. There is a website and a chance to connect with practitioners from across the whole of Wales. To join, register at http://coproductionnetwork.com – then seek out the Wales Co-production Group under Networking > Groups, and make sure you join us in the Wales group.

In order to make better use of the online presence of the network, leveraging each other’s areas of practice and sharing learning and support, it was proposed that network members post a one-paragraph summary of their current project with relevant links. Requests for information, advice and support will be welcomed – after all, it’s good to be able to help as well as receive help.

Thanks again to Steve Cranston and Claire Jenkins at United Welsh for setting up today’s meeting. The next Co-production Practitioners’ Network meeting for the South Wales area will be hosted on 30th September (afternoon) by the Welsh Government’s Environment and Sustainability team in Cardiff – location tbc. So mark your diaries and see you there!

Co-pro on ITV Wales on 24th June

ITV Cymru Wales have been in touch with us recently – they have been filming a programme called ‘Wales This Week: Counting the Cuts’, on the subject of councils working more efficiently.

Children and parents from the Llangollen Youth Centre have been interviewed, and there should be some mention of co-production – or so we have we assured! So we await the broadcast with bated breath.

If there’s a big breaking news story the programme may be moved to a different broadcast time at the last minute, but all being well it should be broadcast on Monday 24th June at 8.00pm on ITV Cymru Wales.

We shall be keeping a keen eye out for it.

Three co-pro events in July – grab your diaries!

We are delighted to announce a stellar line-up of no less than three very excellent events taking place next month.

On 1st July, international expert John Restakis will be talking about social franchising at an event that will also cover social care co-operatives and a co-operative/co-productive model for Home Care. (Put on by Wales Progressive Co-operators.)

On 5th July, Professor Anne Edwards will lead a seminar at WISERD about the practical application of three key processes in effective co-production partnerships with a focus on children’s services. (Put on by ASCC Swansea University.)

On 22nd July, Ailsa Cook and Emma Miller from Scotland will showcase Talking Points, the co-produced outcomes approach which is transforming health, social care, housing and community provision in Scotland. (Put on by Wales Council for Voluntary Action.)

For further information and contact details for these events, please follow this link which will reveal all!