CoProWeekScot 2021 – Talking co-production in Scottish Government

November 23, 2021 by No Comments | Category Democracy, Our work, Training & Skills

This year’s CoProWeekScot is taking place this week (22-26 November) and is a chance for people across Scotland to come together and share their co-production stories and learn from each other. 

CoProWeekScot is organised by the Scottish Co-production Network, which is in turn run by Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC). SCDC receives funding from the Scottish Government to continue its valuable work.

Defining co-production – doing ‘with’ not ‘to’

Co-production is a method for creating and transforming policy and public services. The vital component of this method is captured in the ‘co’ part of co-production. Co-production combines the strengths and resources of people and communities with the professional knowledge and skills of people working in the relevant area.

This approach of working together as equal partners is fundamental. Adopting a co-pro approach has the potential to transform services and policy. It also empowers the people involved and shifts the narrative around how to deliver public services.

This video from SCDC outline the basics.

As the video above highlights, we know that often stakeholders are involved in decision making. But co-production goes further. It means that people and communities aren’t just able to influence decisions, but are involved throughout the service or policy creation. This includes deciding what issues need addressing, how to address them and how to put those solutions into action.

The following six principles outline consistent features of co-production. They help to articulate how the concept applies to public service design and delivery:

  • Recognising people as assets 
  • Building on people’s existing capabilities 
  • Mutuality and reciprocity 
  • Peer support networks 
  • Breaking down barriers between professionals and service users 
  • Facilitating change rather than delivering services.

Scottish Government and co-production

Co-production is a vital component of the Scottish Approach. This is the Scottish Government’s way of delivering policy and public services. It addresses the challenge of public service reform and was developed in response to the Christie Commission on the future delivery of public services

The approach is centred on four priorities:

  • a shift towards prevention
  • improving performance
  • working in partnership
  • engaging and developing our people

The Scottish Approach is ambitious because it aims to help us tackle some of the most long-lasting, complex problems in society. It is also a shift to the way that the people in Scottish Government work. Carnegie UK Trust outlined this changing role of the work government does in their The Enabling State discussion paper. This paper suggests our focus should be “how the state can best take on a new role as facilitator and enabler of individual and community capacity”.

CoProWeekScot events

That’s something we’re continuing to work on through taking part in CoProWeekScot. This year we’re hosting a series of events during the week for Scottish Government colleagues, with speakers from inside Scottish Government and some external guests too. 

We’ll be reiterating the basics of co-production and holding an open space for colleagues to discuss how they can kick start co-pro in their areas of work. Alongside this we’ll be joined by some fantastic expert speakers to hear about inclusion, and how sharing power works in practice. We’ll also be looking into some of the practicalities and approaches to planning and delivering co-production.

The Scottish Co-production Network have a full programme of events for the week too. This is a great opportunity to hear from people all across Scotland about their experiences.

The Scottish Co-production Network

Scottish Government support CoProWeekScot, the work of SCDC and the Scottish Co-production Network because we recognise how vital their knowledge, skills and support are in developing co-production across the country.

Doing co-production, and doing it well, can be a big task for people new to the approach. It can also be hard to put into practice within organisational structures not set up for co-pro. Bringing co-production to life and embedding it in the way we work needs to be something we are all working towards. Having support, partnerships, training and a network of collaborators on this journey are vital to success. 

This year’s #CoProWeekScot key themes provide a great snapshot of where Scotland is in our co-production journey. These are the next steps in the roadmap to embed co-pro across the country. What can you do to take these themes forward in your workplace or community?

  • We need to show co-pro in action – We need to raise awareness of co-production, its values and what it looks like in action, especially with new audiences. We need to support, upskill and encourage people to ‘give it a go’ through learning and training.
  • Addressing inequalities is part of the job – Equality, inclusion and a human rights based approach is at the heart of shifting the balance of power. The process must take into consideration the diverse range of needs that exist and make the process equitable.
  • Resource communities to address their priorities – Communities led the way by mobilising quickly to effectively support each other and those in need. Decision makers at all levels need to listen to and act on what people need to sustain success – and resource better ways of working.
  • Champion digital, but address the barriers – Digital tools have enabled a new, blended way of working, while not being a replacement for all face-to-face conversations. We need to listen to lived experience to ensure any barriers don’t lead to people being ignored or forgotten.
  • Give co-production the time it needs – Decision makers and those holding power should recognise that co-production takes time, resources and the building of capacity of all involved to be done well. Those who benefit from this approach should be listened to, and funders should be less risk-averse.
  • Invest in showing it works – We often measure what we can count, not what matters. Evaluation needs to be properly resourced so that we can use conversations alongside conventional data to capture our learning. We need to make sure evaluation truly has an impact on what we do next.

Next steps

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