Co-production – deciding together
This approach to influence and participation allows staff and people with lived experience to have an equal relationship when designing activities, projects, or services. Learn more about how it works on this page.
What is co-production?
Effective co-production is grounded in the principles of accessibility, diversity, equality and reciprocity (getting something back for putting something in).
Co-production can help to challenge the idea that people with lived experience – traditionally people who have used services – can't participate on an equal level with people in professional roles.
It can be an extremely effective way for people with lived experience to be able to influence change.
"Co-production refers to a way of working where service providers and users work together to reach a collective outcome. The approach is value-driven and built on the principle that those who are affected by a service are best placed to help design it."
There are lots of definitions of co-production. This one comes from Involve.
Case study: PeerFest
PeerFest is an example of successful co-production. Each year, different groups of people with lived experience have responsibility for planning, shaping and delivering the overall event.
Case study: Norfolk and Suffolk Recovery College
Norfolk and Suffolk recovery college co-produced a course with Szara Froud, a mental health professional, and Anastacia, who has bipolar disorder. This is their story.
Case study: physical activity working group
From April 2021 to 2022, Mind’s physical activity team launched a project on developing a healthy relationship with physical activity.
The project was co-produced with people with experience of developing an unhealthy relationship with activity, and professionals who supported them.
Things to consider in co-production
- Is the balance of power genuinely equal in decision making? To be called co-production, there must be a genuinely equal and reciprocal relationship between staff and people with lived experience. You must recognise that all contributions are valuable.
- Are there mutually agreed responsibilities and expectations?
- Are you able to support people to take part in the development process and delivery? How will you do this?
- Can you commit to service users playing an equal role in delivery? If not, you may want to use a co-design method.