Foreword and introduction


"Sharing our strengths, stretching our vision" 


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This was the theme of the 3rd National Co-production Conference in 2014 and it aptly conveys the message that we can achieve more by working together than we can apart. Co- production is not about partnerships between organisations and working together across sector boundaries. It is much more. It is about combining the knowledge, skills and experience of people who use services, deliver services and commission services, and working together on an equal basis to achieve positive change and improve lives and outcomes.

We know from our work across Scotland, that there are a growing number of examples where co-production has delivered better outcomes for people and communities. While this way of working is not new for many people, we also know that it is not the usual way of working across our public services. However, our approach to, and expectations of public services in Scotland is changing. Driven by a desire to reduce inequalities in our communities and shift our focus towards prevention, public service reforms seek to enable people and communities to have a say and a role in how we achieve the outcomes which matter to them.

The launch of the new integrated Health and Social Care Partnerships across Scotland – with their statutory duty to work with people who use services, carers and families in strategic planning and commissioning – and the forthcoming Community Empowerment legislation, present incredibly exciting opportunities. In this evolving landscape, co-production approaches – working with, rather than doing to people and communities – can become embedded in the way public services work in Scotland.

‘Co-production – how we make a difference together’ is a resource which has been developed to support this aim. The examples of co-production included are intended to illustrate some of the different ways in which co-production approaches can be used. We believe that the examples will support you in delivering, managing or commissioning services. It has been developed by the Scottish Co-production Network, the Joint Improvement Team, The Health & Social Care Alliance Scotland and Governance International. However, it could not have been produced without the hard work and willingness of the people and organisations to share the examples of their practice and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them.

The Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, in his interview about co-production for this resource, demonstrates the commitment from Government to co-produced public services as being “absolutely fundamental… probably the core part of the Scottish approach to public services”. It is our belief that collectively we can make co-production the way Scotland works and we look forward to working and learning with you on this journey.

fiona.jpgFiona Garven

Co-Chair, Scottish Co-production Network

Margaret.jpgDr. Margaret Whoriskey

Director, Joint Improvement Team



When we set out to develop a new resource to support a shared understanding of co- production, we had to think about what its purpose was and what the messages were that we wanted to convey. In Scotland there are many people and organisations talking about co-production approaches, the principles of which are threaded through a vast range of policies and legislation as shown in this resource in the section: ‘Co-production in Scotland – a policy overview’. Nevertheless the idea of co-production being the usual approach within public services – across sectors – still seems to be some way off. One of the difficulties appears to be that there are many interpretations of what co-production actually means.

lightbulb.pngWe therefore wanted to develop a resource which gives examples of the different ways in which co-production approaches can be used, but more than this, to try to draw together the principles of co-production and the practicalities of working in this way. The examples within this resource come from a range of organisations and illustrate how co-production can take different forms from Co-commissioning such as the examples from North Lanarkshire and EVOC, to Co-design as shown by IRISS, Project 99 and Young Scot. Other examples, such as Feet First and DadsWork show how working in partnership with third sector organisations can help to reach people in communities and involve them in designing and delivering services which better meet their needs and achieve their own personal outcomes.

In order for people and communities to be able to co-produce outcomes, it is essential that the capacity to do so is developed and supported. The example from Glasgow Disability Alliance shows how people living with disabilities can be supported to develop their confidence and skills to be able to co-produce services which better meet their needs. The People Powered Health and Wellbeing programme shows how the principles which underpin co-production can be shared and developed. This programme provides a range of training and support to build capacity amongst people who use, and people who deliver services to enable people to have more control over their lives and ensure that services are influenced by people with lived experience and unpaid carers.

running.pngThe introduction to the Co-production Star shows that there are practical steps which can be taken to spread good co-production practice across our public services and build services which draw on the combined assets of people, communities and public service organisations. The example from Lochside Neighbourhood Group shows what can happen when co-produced approaches are put at the heart of developing local communities and challenging inequalities: enabling local people to identify solutions with public sector partners to issues including housing, community safety and building community capacity.

We know that reading and hearing about co-production only goes so far in helping to make the change from one way of working to adopting co-production approaches. Nevertheless, co-production is considered essential in reforming public services in Scotland, therefore it is important to take the time think about the support needed and actions required to learn and progress together to enable change to take place at a national level. The Scottish Co-production Network is free to join and open to anyone who is interested in co-production. As a network of people from all sectors, backgrounds and experience, it creates the opportunities for people to learn, debate, exchange and develop ideas to support co- production practice.