The need to ‘do with’ rather than ‘do to’ repeatedly features in policy documents and reports, and a plethora of terms is used to describe collaborative approaches to service delivery - citizen-directed, relationship-centred, asset-based, community engagement, outcomes-focus, service-user involvement etc.
Here’s one more – co-production.
Co-production incorporates all of these ideals, offering a transformative whole-system approach to public service delivery. It is based on an underlying philosophy which values individuals, builds upon their own support systems and considers their place in the wider community. This approach requires a move away from service-led or top-down approaches to one of genuine citizen empowerment, involving service-users and their communities in the co-commissioning, co-design, co-delivery and co-evaluation of services. Co-production is based upon reciprocity – a genuine partnership between professionals, service-users and their communities.
Evidence of the value of co-production approaches is growing in all sectors. It has positive effects in six main areas:
- service effectiveness - service users are involved in making the decisions that will affect them
- job satisfaction - professionals are encouraged to build relationships with people rather than simply process them
- sustainability - service-users and their communities take ownership of projects, ensuring its long-term viability
- value for money - through a focus on prevention and early action
- participant wellbeing - our sense of wellbeing is based on five factors: connecting , learning, giving, being engaged, being active. Co-production offers participants an opportunity to tick all the boxes.
- community development – by our very nature we need to belong, to be part of a community. Co-pro works to rebuild and strengthen communities, encouraging participation, mutuality and respect for others.
Welsh Government People and Environment Team
Cardiff University Honorary Research Fellow