A guinea pig led co-pro future for Wales

Morning All!

Thought you might need some cheering up in the midst of all this gloom and despond. And rather too much Boris. So here are the latest updates from the co-pro community and the Co-production Network for Wales to cheer you up…

First off – to a background of heavenly choirs – we are absolutely delighted to introduce our new Network Director Mark John Williams and Network Co-ordinator Judith Nubold.

Inspired by his younger brother who has Down’s Syndrome but who leads ‘an extraordinary life’, Mark’s commitment to transformative co-production and social justice shines through in everything he does. He was previously Inclusion Manager for Cymryd Rhan, a north Wales social care provider for disabled people, people with learning disabilities and older people with health conditions. He’s also worked as a freelance trainer & facilitator and has a superb range of skills, including, Asset-based Community Development, Person-centred Planning, Circles of Support, Learning for Leadership, story-telling, film-making and community music. Mark’s experience and expertise will help ensure that ‘an extraordinary life’ becomes a possibility for many more people in Wales.

Like Mark, Judith is committed to co-production and to the radical ambition of the Network itself. She has a hugely impressive range of skills and knowledge – both academic and practical. A study of public policy and the politics of resistance, combined with extensive volunteering, have convinced her that co-production can change our relationships, our economy, and our political system for the better. She brings this contextual understanding to her role, along with proven abilities in research, project co-ordination and administration, most recently at Cardiff University and Spice.

In the job description we asked for people who could influence and inspire, people who could work collaboratively and methodically in pursuit of transformational changes in power-relations. We wanted organised doers, good talkers, and fantastic dreamers. We wanted experience, expertise, and commitment. Mark and Judith tick all the boxes and, with your continuing support and input, will enable us to create a ‘Wales where everyone is valued as a contributor to the common good’. They’ll be in post from September.

Many thanks to them for taking on this collective challenge – they will make a formidable team.  

We had over 60 expressions of interest in the two jobs, and an exceptionally strong shortlist of seven candidates for each of the posts. Our sincere thanks to everyone who applied. We very much hope that you will stay involved with the Network and work with us to transform public services in Wales.

How’s about an all-Wales time bank? A proposal for a cross-sector, cross-party ‘Solution for Wales’ event in September…

The wonderful Maria Gallagher (Public Health Wales, 1000 Lives) has been looking in to the capacity of time banking to embed co-production. She’s come to the conclusion that it is the most high-impact, direct and effective way of bridging the gap between people and services, capable of transforming power relations and of ensuring that co-pro doesn’t just become another variant of consultation. She’s suggested that we hold a one-day event in September to discuss the possibility of setting up a government-funded all-Wales time-bank. A radical idea if there ever was one!

And in one of those serendipitous moments which appear to follow me round like a small friendly herd of Peruvian guinea pigs, Edgar Cahn and his partner Chris Gray contacted me to say that they might be able to visit us again in September and would that be useful. Indeed it would! So they will and they are and they’ll provide the expertise and knowledge to help us make this extraordinary vision a practical reality. It’ll be a public event on September 22 or 23 in Cardiff. We’ll send out more info asap…

A complementary currencies & co-pro think-tank session

And with the guinea pigs working overtime, a chat with Mark Drakeford (not at all like a herd of etc except in terms of friendliness) led to his proposal to hold a small WG-focused think-tank session with Edgar and Chris to discuss the Wales time-bank idea and to consider complementary currencies more broadly. He’s also reaffirmed his absolute commitment to co-pro and the Network and will continue to champion the cause in every way he can. Good-oh.

And lots more positive news to come in the next mail-out…

with dots joining up and Wales Co-ops leading the collaborative charge and ABCD training in Wrexham and Talwrn talking about a national co-pro conversation focusing on the SS&W Act and updates from our next Network Steering Group meeting. And more guinea-pigs than you can shake a carrot at.

Rock on!


Ruth (Co-production Wales)


About Ruth

UK National Teaching Fellow, Founder of Co-production Wales (All in this Together), co-pro trainer and consultant, working to make co-production 'the way we do things' in Wales. And having a ball!

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