It's time to walk the talk - 4th National Co-production Conference

On Tuesday, 12th May 2015 more than 220 people came together from across Scotland for the 4th National Co-production Conference. Held at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the day brought together people with a range of backgrounds and experiences to talk about we can make co-production the way Scotland works.

With speakers, workshops, poetry and even some comedy, the day focused on what we can learn from each other and how we can take co-production forward. We had a great day, inspired by the enthusiasm and practical experience people have around co-production.

This report is a record of the day and includes, pictures, videos and tweets from the conference hashtag #copro2015. Colleagues from The ALLIANCE and IRISS have also written about their experiences from the day. You can also download the complete conference evaluation responses here.

The conference was planned and delivered by the organisations below, and we'd like to thank everyone who made the day such a success.

Welcome and introduction - Catriona Ness, NHS Tayside


The day was introduced and chaired by Catriona Ness from NHS Tayside and Co-chair of the Scottish Co-production Network. Catriona welcomed everyone and gave a background to the planning and aims of the event. All 750 Network members were surveyed, with a group of 23 coming together to form a planning group, deciding on the title and theme for the day:

“It’s time to walk the talk - making co-production the way Scotland works”

From there the planning group led on developing the format, choosing the workshops and making sure that the conference was as participatory as possible, with the voices and stories of people with lived experience front and centre.

Fiona Lees - Chief Executive of East Ayrshire Council


Fiona Lees was our opening speaker, outlining the co-productive working going on in East Ayrshire. She spoke about the importance of co-production being supported in local communities, what worked, what could be improved and what lessons can be shared.

Attendees told us it was really important to hear about co-production taking seed across a whole organisation, rather than just a single project. 

Fiona also spoke about the importance of volunteering, giving East Ayrshire staff time to be part of local community work and the value that brought. Finally, she spoke about how we can take these approaches and make them the norm rather than the exception in the way we work, with her closing words:


Margaret McDonald & Glenn Merrilees, PPHW


Our final speakers for the morning were Margaret McDonald and Glenn Merriless, both part of the People Powered Health and Wellbeing Reference group.

Margaret spoke about her experiences being involved in the PPHW reference group and discussed the importance, and value, of people's contributions to the services they use - services which, she said, should be of the people, by the people and for the people.

Glenn, a published poet, treated us to two of his poems. The first was a powerful look at the effects that language and stigma has on people with mental health conditions, with Glenn drawing on his own experiences. 

The second, a humorous look at the peril of ‘Midgies’ was a great way to kick start the workshops. 

Morning workshops

Workshops made up the majority of the day. Network members were asked to come up with participative and interactive workshops, and didn’t disappoint.  We would have needed a two day conference to host them all.

Many of the workshops were led and delivered by people with lived experience of co-production, sharing what they've learned and experienced. A flavour of each workshop below.


What can Scotland learn from international approaches to co-production? - Governance International

Participants were grouped into tables of six people and asked to discuss a series of interesting, and sometimes challenging, statements and questions about co-production.  Discussions included: exploring the relationship between individual and collective forms of co-production; how best to plan and evaluate co-production; the co-production cycle – co-commissioning, co-designing, co-delivering and co-assessing; and barriers to co-production approaches.

Co-production training - Glasgow Homelessness Network 

This session looked at the definitions of co-production, as well as asset based approaches and empowerment and examined the local work being carried out in communities. It examined the barriers and solutions to co-production and we heard from people with lived experience of co-production who explained the work they have been doing.


Putting the 'co' into co-production - D&G Wellness Recovery College & Scottish Recovery Network &

For the past year a group of people with lived experience of mental health challenges have been involved as peer facilitators at Dumfries and Galloway Wellness and Recovery College. The group used a ‘Loose Women’ sketch format to discuss their experiences of the D&G Wellness Recovery College and to highlight what works well in co-production: (good) relationships; a level playing field and shared understanding of co-production; valuing people with lived experience; time for co-production (and time to allow the process to happen); listening, hearing and action.

24 years of searching for an answer together - COPE Scotland

COPE presented an interactive workshop using participative appraisal to demonstrate a simple, co-development, design and production technique developed over the past 24 years. They showed a video which was made by and stared people with lived experience of co-production.


Using our lived experience for health and Wellbeing - People Powered Health and Wellbeing reference group

This workshop demonstrated how vital a person’s lived experience is to co-productive working and building equal relationships. Members of the reference group used participatory forum theatre to demonstrate a broken approach to co-commissioning and led lively discussions on how to move to genuine co-production. You can read more over at The ALLIANCE website.

Building a framework and Principles for Participation - Snook & Includem &

Actively using co-production methods, participants began to design co-production opportunities within their own organisations. Through examples developed by Includem’s staff and young people, and by sharing potential opportunities within participants’ own organisations, they worked to establish the groundwork to a number of co-production projects.

Discussion - Gerry Power, Joint Improvement Team

Gerry.jpgJust before lunch, Gerry Power, Deputy Director of JIT, brought attendees together to ask some questions about where co-production is right now, and what can we do to take it forward? 

The key messages coming from the conference were:

1.    We need to build a movement and record success

“Genuine voices must be heard; telling our own stories as a citizen is important.”  “Need to evaluate this to be sustainable.” “Community voices must be heard but do they want co-production? Is co-production a community aspiration?”  

2.    We must share power

“Hand power over to communities, before you decide what to do.” “Relationships need to change, including the relationship between ‘the top’ and both the 3rd sector and people with lived experience.” “The public sector should be reminded that it’s power flows from citizens.”


3.    Take risks

“We have to be comfortable with uncertainty and take risks.” “Don’t be scared of the unknown; it’s truly co-production if no prior outcomes are set.”

4.    It’s about structures, and moving beyond services

“We need to change structures and processes to allow co-production to happen - structures are rigid, processes are set and task orientated.”  “Co-production should not be limited to a simple aspect e.g. service planning.”

5.    We need to be in it for the long term

“We need longer term investment.”  “We need a longer term vision.” “We need time – not to short, not too long.”

6.    We’ve got a problem with the language around co-production.

“Drop the jargon. Use co-production as an approach but not the language.” ”We need to use a common language right across all of our work. This has to happen before we take co-production across Scotland if we are to include everyone. ”

Gillian Grant - Universal Comedy

3A2A6601.jpgFollowing lunch, attendees came back together for a post-sandwich energiser from comedian Gillian Grant.

Gillian is a ‘graduate’ of Universal Comedy, a social enterprise which delivers unique comedy workshops and training courses for people experiencing the downside of mental ill health. 

Gillian spoke about the challenges she's faced in her own life in a very touching, and very funny way.


Afternoon workshops

After the laughter we went straight back into a whole new set of workshops. You can read more about them below.

Why bother involving people in evaluation? - Evaluation Support Scotland

This workshops focused on a new resource, 'Why bother involving people in evaluation?' which helps organisations plan why, when and how to involve the people they work with in evaluation. Participants were introduced to the tool with the help of a video, and asked to reflect on whether or not their own organisations involved the people they worked with in evaluation. There was agreement that the resource had great potential in promoting more participative, bottom-up evaluation that could lead to better outcomes.

Project 99: Co-designing innovative supports for youth mental health - NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

This workshop examined Project 99's work in co-designing support for young people; using a process of discover, define, develop, deliver. Participants were then invited to engage with custom-designed personae in order to explore support options for young people in a range of realistic scenarios, drawn from extensive engagement with young people's experiences.


Co-design in Action - Pilotlight / IRISS

In this workshop IRISS introduced participants to a digital resource, focussing on co-design methods and tools. Participants were able to test out some of the tools and critically evaluate their use in practice. This was placed within the context of Pilotlight’s work, where they co-designed four pathways to self-directed support focusing on mental health, risk, self-employment and young people in transition. 

Building healthier and happier communities - SCVO & East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action &

As part of this workshop attendees explored the contribution of the third sector in delivering and evaluating community-led approaches that build social capital and improve the health and wellbeing of people and communities. It examined where co-production fits in relation to health and social care integration and wider public service reform.

From Patchwork to Support Net - Animate Consulting with Dundee Carers Centre &

This workshop told the story of how Animate and DCC worked together with providers, carers and commissioners to co-produce new pathways for better provision in Dundee. Carers were on hand to discuss their contribution and look at the successes and challenges of this way of working.

Closing remarks and speakers


With the afternoon workshops complete, attendees came together for the last time to hear closing remarks for the day. Dr Margaret Whoriskey, Director of the Joint Improvement Team and Sir Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government spoke about the

Dr Margaret Whoriskey, Joint Improvement Team

MW.JPGMargaret took the opportunity to reflect on how far we have come with co-production in Scotland, particularly over the past four years as evidenced by the huge interest in attending this conference – we had nearly 350 people register their interest for 225 spaces on the day. “This has grown each year and the passion and commitment shown today has been great to see and be a part of.” Given the important role which the Joint Improvement Team has played in supporting and leading the development of co-production in Scotland, Margaret emphasised the importance of a “strong co-production footprint” in the new improvement structure being established to support health and social care integration.

Looking to the future as we embark on integrated health and social care services in Scotland, Margaret laid out the challenge to all of us to ensure that “we get co-production at the heart of how health and social care partnerships work”.

Sir Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government

PS.jpgSir Peter provided some historical perspective, and personal reflections, on the public sector and co-production. He spoke about examples from the resource 'Co-production - how we make a difference together' and highlighted the key lessons that they presented in how we take co-production forward.

He also spoke about the challenges of co-production and how it offered solutions by putting people at the front line of public services and the recognition and importance of the work that is happening 'on the ground'.

Speaking at the conference, Permanent Secretary Sir Peter Housden said:

"Understanding co-production is essential for anyone involved in the design or delivery of public services in Scotland.

"It's about people in communities and those delivering frontline services listening to each other, innovating, making connections and seeking solutions together. Society is changing all the time, and solutions must change with it. We need to keep experimenting and where necessary, changing tack.

"As a government, we need to invest systematically in people and their communities to build capacity through involvement and decision-making, creating the space for co-production to happen."

Sir Peter was interviewed by SCN co-chair Fiona Garven as part of the co-production resource.

You can hear more of his thoughts below and read more about the interview here.


Social reporting

Throughout the day social reporters from The ALLIANCE interviewed people about their experiences and the conference day. You can watch them all below. We have also included all of the #copro2015 tweets, so you can see everything that we couldn't include here.