Co-production: The benefits for people and organisations


Lessons learned

Co-production is hard work, but worth it

  • It takes time and resources. This isn’t just about the practical things, like finding a time when everyone can meet. It takes time to build up relationships of trust between the people involved.
  • It’s not just about money and time; you also need to approach co-production with the right mindset, as it can mean working outside the established way of doing things.
It makes me feel good that others may have interest in what I have to say.
Young person, Talent Match

There are benefits for all involved

  • Taking part can increase people’s self-worth and confidence, as well as providing skills and experience. They can benefit from peer networks and support and gain a new sense of purpose.
  • It can be motivating for staff running services and can re-ignite their passion for their job.
  • Co-production can make services a better fit for the people that use them, and more accessible. It can make an otherwise institutional situation feel more human.

How can you best support co-production?

There is no blueprint for meaningful co-production. It is an ongoing process, which means you need to keep reflecting and working on it.

Important things to bear in mind are:

  • Know that co-production will look different depending on the context and the people you are working with.
  • Be open to new ideas, prepared to share power and responsibility. Be ready to be challenged and possibly challenge back.
  • Be honest and transparent with people about expectations and limitations.
  • Embed co-production throughout your project. Make sure it’s part of everyone’s role to get it right.
  • Try not to rely on the same people to contribute. Keep it fresh and welcome new voices.
  • Be mindful of the fact that co-production is not a one-off piece of work. It will evolve with your project. Be prepared to make mistakes, learn, and improve as you go.
Having parents and grandparents on the board keeps us honest, real and community-focused in everything we do.
Programme manager, A Better Start Bradford

Tell us what you think

Do you find this paper useful? Would you like to find out more about any of the projects described in the paper? Can you apply any of the learning in your own work? We would like to know.

Please email your experiences to:

Within the project, having individuals that are very open about their lived experience as colleagues is very positive […] you can’t underestimate the value of that, it’s helping us to develop as a project.
Programme manager, Fulfilling Lives South East