Co-production: Building Back Better – something different or more of the same?
As part of Co-production Week 2020 taking place across England, SCN’s Susan Paxton reflects on the role of co-production in building back better as we recover from the covid-19 pandemic. Share your thoughts about co-pro should be part of how Build Back Better.
Many of us, across the public, voluntary and community sectors, and more importantly the people who have experienced the worst impact of the pandemic, will be hoping that things are going to be different from now on.
Coronavirus has shone a light on many things, particularly the inexcusable inequalities that exist in our society and how difficult it has been for those who experience them: people living in poverty, disabled people, BAME people, refugees & asylum seekers and homeless people - among many others.
We all have an interest in making things better, but how can we make sure things are going to be different moving forward?
It’s clear co-production is one way to do it. From what we’ve heard about the amazing accounts of people supporting each other, and supporting those most vulnerable, it’s clear co-pro is alive and kicking. People, communities, and the organisations that support them have mobilised in extraordinary, marvellous ways during this time. But there’s no doubt some people have been left behind and overlooked, and this is likely to get worse as we feel the effects of economic, social and environmental shocks. For some, ‘building back’ might just be trying to back get to where they were before.
So what does building back better really mean then? For co-production, I think it’s vital that we focus on keeping the ‘good’ stuff and let go of the ‘bad’ stuff.
That means more resources being spent on what’s really needed, based on trust and valued relationships. More recognition of what people can do instead of what they perceivably can’t. It means a true fulfilment of promises to engage people (citizens, groups, agencies, organisations and government) in a shared dialogue of what we’re building back better to, and how we’re going to get there.
That also means fewer decisions about what people need being made for them, instead of by them.
This awful virus has taught us that people, communities and the services they use are resourceful in so many ways, and we’re all capable of acting for the collective good. If we really are intent on building back better, let’s mobilise now and act on what we’ve learned – that we all need to count on each other and that we all have a part to play.