Co-producing Positive Futures- 28th October 2015



On Wednesday 28th October 2015, people from different sectors and backgrounds came together for the Co-Producing Positive Futures event, held at the Teacher Building, Glasgow. The half day event gave a chance to come together and learn about how co-productive approaches are becoming part of Scotland’s justice system. The morning offered a chance for group discussion around these issues, with inputs from three organisations with direct experience of this type of work, while the afternoon gave the opportunity for further discussion and networking.

Welcome and Introduction

The day started off with an introduction from David Allan from the Scottish Community Development Centre. David welcomed everyone and gave a background to the planning and aims of the event. Olivia Hanley, from the Scottish Co-Production Network also gave a brief overview of the day, before introducing the first speaker.

Outside the Box


Our first speaker was Louise Wilson, from Outside the Box. Outside the Box is a social enterprise which has worked with women and staff at Tomorrow’s Women Glasgow, a multi-agency centre which works with women with complex needs who are involved in the Criminal Justice system.

Louise spoke about how service user involvement for the women who receive these services was developed, along with the good ideas and effective practice they have learned, and continue to learn, from working with vulnerable women.

Louise spoke about the importance of the relationship between women and staff, and how using different skills and enthusiasm can kick start different conversations. An example of this was creating a safe space, where women could come and take part in informal and creative activities, with the idea that dialogue would open up naturally and the women would feel safe to share. This is in contrast to more formal meetings, where women might find it hard to speak up.

Women at the centre were also involved in deciding what activities they wanted at the centre, and their views are fed into the structure and governance of the organisation in an informal way. The women at the centre also held an event for White Ribbon Day, and were able to take on different roles and use their skills to organise the event.

Louise Wilson from @OtBcommunities introudcing her work with Tomorrow's Women #copro2015

— SCN (@ScotCoPro) October 28, 2015


Relationship between women and staff is important- we need to use skills and enthusiasm to have different conversations #copro2015

— Ciara Maguire (@SCDC_Ciara) October 28, 2015


Positive Prisons, Positive Futurespp.png

Next up was Pete White, the founder of Positive Prisons, Positive Futures. Pete and his team have been working to improve the effectiveness of Scotland’s criminal justice system by using the direct personal experience of people who are or have been subject to punishment. Pete spoke about this process and how these voices of lived experience have been heard around the redesign of Community Justice, the implementation of Independent Monitoring of Prisons and changes in the language used in justice.

Pete started off by telling us about his own experiences in prison, and how this led him to setting up Positive Prisons. The process began by writing to prison governors and asking if they would support people who had been in prison to help others who were in prison or had been released. Pete told us that government officials at the first meeting were in tears, as they heard for the first time the effect different policies had on real people. Pete spoke about the importance of recognising people as people and putting aside judgements or stereotypes, which can lead to hostility between prisoners and service providers. He also told us about the effectiveness of one to one mentoring, which can allow prisoners to make their own decisions and focus on their dreams. Positive Prisons allows the voices of those inside to be heard outside, and have influenced real change in policy and ways of thinking about prison.

Space Unlimited

Our final talk for the day was given by Owen from Space Unlimited. Space Unlimited is a small social enterprise which has worked with the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice on a project to engage young people with lived experience of these services, defining a new voice and role for themselves around shaping future research, practice and policy.  Their talk focused on the challenges and benefits of a more collaborative approach to working with young people in this sector and how they’re trying to carry the work forward on a quest to help shape best practice across Scotland.

Owen began by explaining he had hand drawn slides as his PowerPoint crashed the night before- but we thought they looked great! He went on to speak about the way young people are treated and managed by adults- often the way they are spoken to can be unhelpful in building positive relationships and allowing young people to make their own decisions- it’s about creating a choice for young people to change their own behaviour rather than telling them they have to.Picture1.jpg

Owen introduced us to the Space Unlimited learning process- prepare, create, reflect and act. He explains that changing things and doing things is difficult- it’s a long and complicated process and not always linear. He explains the importance of personal relationships for young people- particularly as they can often feel disconnected and isolated from services which often don’t link up. Consistent interactions help young people feel heard and like change can happen. Young people spoke of the need to make children’s hearings more of a conversation, where both parties understand each other and why they are there. Owen then spoke about the need to help young people move on from services and become independent, whilst at the same time making sure there is still consistency and contact. You can see Owen's full presentation here.


Young people spoke about that disconnect and isolation felt between services. Social work and legal support, for example #copro2015

— SCN (@ScotCoPro) October 28, 2015


After all three talks, participants could choose to join two out of three groups to join a discussion12228168_10153630364795867_684442179_o.jpg with. Each discussion was well attended, and participants were able to ask questions, share information and discuss the different approaches in achieving co-production. After the discussions, everyone gave feedback from each discussion group and shared overall thoughts on the day. Some of the topics discussed were how to shift the balance of power through co-production, asking who benefits from co-production, and asking how we can move from a parental approach to more of a long term development approach?


We asked participants to fill out feedback forms to let us know what they thought of the day. Here are some of their comments:

"The opportunity to ask questions of the speakers with vast experience in these processes of working helps us to work out ways to integrate approprirate language and create space for more of these processes to happen"

"The speakers were fantastic. The discussion sessions were useful too."

"A key learning point was realising people with lived experience can be very effective at getting change to happen in a way that those advocating on their behalf can struggle to achieve"



— SCN (@ScotCoPro) October 28, 2015