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What is co-production?

3 July 2023

This National Co-production Week, we want to help more people understand the importance of co-production.

What is co-production?

Co-production means working in equal partnership to drive change. 

When services are provided by people with no lived experience of using them, they’re less likely to meet people’s needs.

When decisions are made by people who won’t be directly affected by those decisions, they’re less likely to make the right choices.

Co-production recognises that people who use social care and health services have knowledge, skills and experience which should be used to shape those services.

But co-production isn’t just about making improvements at a local level. Co-production provides a model for how power sharing, empowerment and decision-making should work everywhere. Its purpose is to give people real choice, control and involvement in society, in ways that improve that society for everyone.

What does co-production look like?

In practice, co-production often takes the form of working groups and local partnerships.

These partnerships bring decision-makers (like public organisations and commissioners) together with the people who use services, their carers and their families, as equals.

Co-production involves people in designing, delivering and developing services from the start.

We know how we would like to be supported and to make things better, like all the information that we have provided to the website that we have been designing.

Fahmina, a self-advocate in Hampshire

Speak Out Hampshire have worked on the creation of a new accessible website. 

It’s designed for people with learning disabilities, by people with learning disabilities.

Find out more about the website

How does VoiceAbility support co-production?

VoiceAbility’s Speak Out groups all use the model of co-production.

Speak Out Leaders and self-advocates use their lived experience to shape services in their local area, supported by facilitators.

In Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Hampshire, they co-produce focus groups and meetings. They work with the local learning disability partnership to share their views, and what they’ve learned from other people. They run events, and help people prepare for the transition to adulthood.

Speak Out Southwark - Thriving Together is a project to improve the local council’s short breaks services.

Speak Out Essex is the co-production partner for the All Age Autism Partnership Board.

People with learning disabilities in care homes have rights too. They should be able to do whatever they want to do – like I can.

Richard, Speak Out Leader

Speak Out Leaders went to a reception for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Learning Disabilities in Westminster.

They talked to MPs about what matters to them, and the other people with learning disabilities they have talked to.

Find out more about what they said

How can I get involved in co-production?

If you have lived experience, you might want to work with us or volunteer with us.

You might want to join our events, or get emails about what’s happening near you.

Find out more about your local VoiceAbility service

If we don’t run a co-production service near you, another organisation will.