Great blog on all things coproduction….

January 28, 2013

There is a really interesting blog on coproduction from our friends at Social Spaces:

The latest publication from Finland im finding particually useful!


Coproduction Action Learning Set – 29th November

December 5, 2012

Last Thursday on the 29th November the latest Coproduction Action Learning Set was held in the Town Hall. The Action Learning Set is a workshop for officers to meet up and discuss coproduction and codesign,  in relation to the projects they are currently working on.

We had a good turn out again with a range of about twenty officers from various departments keen to support each other in this relatively new way of thinking. There were six initial projects that officers needed support with and they covered issues from how you coproduce large departmental plans with a range of different customers and stakeholders to looking at more focused projects who want to add in coproduction at an already advanced stage.

From this last meeting a number of actions have arisen:

  • Find a place online to record peoples little ‘do’s’ of coproduction. These are small examples of coproducing that all staff can begin to use.
  • The Action Learning Set want to make better use of online networks to continue supporting each other outside of the workshop including LinkedIn and Lino–it, as well as the Cooperative Toolkit. We agreed that we will trial each of these methods for communicating and see what ones prove most popular.
  • There was a call to move away from the split between Councillors officers/residents. How can we become more of a team? Make better use of officers who are also residents and invite Councillors to the Action Learning Set to share their experience of coproduction.
  • Expand group invite to include anyone, regardless if they work for Lambeth Council or not.

Moving forward we are keen to develop this Action Learning Set further. There are three main aspects to the ALS; the workshop, the network and the toolkit. The workshop is well developed and we will continue to host these monthly. The network has grown out of the workshops and we are looking at ways to support and grow this network by drawing in new members and using online resources. Finally the toolkit needs more work to bring it to a place where anyone can access and understand it, and use it to start coproducing their projects.

The next event is Wednesday 23rd January in Room 8 of the Town Hall at 10 – 12am. As mentioned we are looking to widen the invite to this, so if you are interested in coming along please get in touch, and feel free to bring a friend!

Made in Lambeth II

October 18, 2012


As many of you will know, a second Made in Lambeth event took place last weekend here in Brixton at the Town Hall. I think I can safely say it was a real success! Firstly thank you ever so much to all of you who came along, braving London transport when so much of the tube was down. It was really appreciated and the impressive turn out at the weekend shows us how enthusiastic people are to make a real difference to where we live.

The making and creating on all three projects was substantial and we have some brilliant work to take forward together over the coming weeks and months. Some of the outputs was as follows:

  • Neighbourhood networks – This project started life as a concept called ‘Street Friends’ and soon turned into ‘Our Street’. The idea is to create networks of neighbors working together on their streets to improve the immediate area where they live. The idea grew out of the Community Freshview project, where feedback told us one of the most positive changes this project has is getting neighbors to talk to each other, often for the first time. This leads to increased interaction and positive change.  Communtiy Freshview is resource intensive however, and ‘Our Street’ is about providing even more people with the tools and support they need to get on with projects they want to do themselves, knowing they have the full backing of the council to do so. Some of the tools created over the weekend included a website design which includes content about what can be done legally and how to do it, notice boards to gather ideas on your street and a sticker to put in your window which says that ‘im a friendly neighbor  please ask me to help out.’
  • Connectors – The next project was around identifying the people in the community with skills and connections who we should target with opportunities to volunteer and to get them involved in community projects. This was a wide ranging brief that took in skills mapping, volunteering and inclusion. A number of strands came out of this. One group looked at promotional materials to illustrate that volunteering is something that is extremely positive in many ways and created the ‘Superstar Volunteer’ idea. This included a video that set out what people personally get out of being a volunteer. Another group worked on developing a website that aggregates volunteering opportunities in the borough. And another group developed the idea of ‘The Nest’, a space provided by the council in council buildings for entrepreneurs and social enterprises to work together and with the council, bringing in people with skills from the community.
  • YLC – The Young Lambeth Cooperative had an incredible time of it and from the off it was clear they would achieve what they set out to achieve  What was really powerful was the involvement of young people themselves who left the weekend having gained a lot of experience in working with professionals on a project that would have a tangible impact on their lives. The group managed to create a strong brand for the YLC, sticking with the name ‘Young Lambeth Coop’ but using the abbreviation YLC. They came up with a logo and font and tested this out with the young people who were present. They developed a communications plan based around social media and mediums that young people wanted to use, as well as creating a website. They also explored ideas around incentives, and what would encourage young people and their parents to get involved in the YLC.

So now that we have these projects up and running, alongside the three projects still going from the first event, we want to keep momentum going and plan for another two day Made in Lambeth event sometime in the near future. Firstly we will host a catch up event for you to all come along and continue to work on your projects and to discuss any ideas you might have. At the event last weekend we suggested the 24th for a catch up, but unfortunately that is no longer possible, so instead we would like to invite you to the Town Hall in Brixton on Tuesday 30th October between 6-9pm to meet up with your old team mates and possibly go for a drink afterwards! Let me know if you are able to come along at


Finally we have some pictures and the twitter feed from the event:


We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the 30th October!


Coproduction Action Learning set 2 – Good for Nothing

August 9, 2012

The July Coproduction Action Learning Set session heard from Tom from Good for Nothing who explained the Good for Nothing process and showed a film about the first GFN event in Lambeth which looked at healthwatch, webspace and parks / open spaces (for more info on this please click here).  The next GFN event will be held in October and members of the action learning set suggested that the Lambeth country Show in September would be an ideal place to publicise it.

Tom reflected on some of the lessons that they have learned about coproduction:

  • that coproduction works best when there are clear enough parameters for participants to see how they can add value and make a difference, and that these need to be published in advance of any coproduction events,
  • that there cannot be so many constraints that it makes it difficult to take new ideas on board
  • to increase inclusivity and ensure solutions fit the needs of a range of different kinds of people coproducers need to go out and talk to people outside the room as part of the coproduction process
  • to take things forward after an initial event requires strong ownership from a range of different people and organisations (not just the council- but the council definitely needs to be one of the owners)

Officers reflected on the Good for Nothing approach and agreed:

  • The council (both staff and elected members) need to be less risk averse, but recognised that this was a significant cultural challenge!
  • That organisational development will be needed to help give officers the skills they need

Members of the coproduction action learning set then discussed some of the ways they were embedding coproduction and the challenges they were facing (and in some cases were overcoming!). These included

  • embedding community decisions into the procurement process around youth services (a challenge overcome through joint working);
  • the ongoing development of a council-wide organisational development strategy;
  • working together with a range of neighbourhood groups to agree how additional council support for neighbourhood plans will be distributed and  
  • enabling learning disabled residents to mystery shop services.

The next coproduction action learning set session is planned for September 27th in the Town Hall and will explore how we can make sure that coproduction is inclusive and accessible to all. Please get in touch for a forward programme or for more information about the next session.

Made in Lambeth catch up – 12th July

July 13, 2012

Yesterday afternoon the Made in Lambeth team had a great catch up at the Town Hall in Brixton. It was a chance to get an update on the three projects that were developed at the last event, as well as looking forward to the next event and what projects we could work on in October. Council staff were pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who showed up! It shows that people are keen to stay involved and to contribute to designing and creating local services. A brief round up of the main points follows.

The website project is going well, we are working out ways to build up the content in the new website using the work done on the open source website developed at Made in Lambeth. The Love Your Space project is being pushed forward by Public Realm services, who are keen to maintain this as a community led project which allows people to identify unloved spaces and then enable them to do something about them themselves. The design for coproducing Healthwatch will go to cabinet in September, and the plans for this are based on the output from the Good for Nothing event. If approved, they will want to revisit the Good for Nothing Healthwatch team to get involved in the coproduction process.

Following the updates there was some really strong and useful feedback on the first event which we can take forward to the next one. This includes:

  • The council needs to be clearer about letting go and transferring power. Being clear that it wants the public to lead on projects, giving permission to take a project and run with it.
  • Develop a project pack for each of the new projects selected that includes background information, data, contacts etc.
  • Identify networks outside of twitter/facebook in order to encourage people with skills to come along. Think about offline networks locally to attract a more diverse range of skilled people.
  • Think about some methods of incentivising people to come along – a crèche?
  • Ownership of projects continues to be important, need someone there who is clear they have the resource to take the work forward beyond the event. Also they could share this ownership with a service user / recipient?
  • The group didn’t feel that much more structure to the events was needed, but did feel that the goals of the event should be more strongly defined at the outset. Especially around doing not talking, voting with your feet and divide and conquer.
  • There was enthusiasm for having regular evening meet ups, but people wanted the format to be different and to learn from our own mantra – less talking more doing! A date for the next one is the 1st August and will take place later on in the evening so that Good for Nothingers can get there after work. Need to think about how we create a space for doing, and can use this space to select future projects.

Following this conversation we started to talk about projects for the next event. Some specific projects were discussed, and from this some clear themes started to emerge:

  • Asset mapping – this came up again and again. There is a need for communities to start to identify the skills in their borough and learn how to engage and enthuse with people who have the skills needed for particular projects. There is a need to learn how to recognise skills – for example someone may be great at project planning, but they wouldn’t necessarily call their skills ‘project planning’. A pool of resources needs to be created which could be utilised by a range of projects.
  • Adding value to existing networks –there is a diverse range of communities and different groups and networks in Lambeth, an excellent resource that would largely welcome being utilised. Yet bringing them together to work presents its own challenges, how can we do so in a way that adds value, not undermines organic structures. A problem which Made in Lambeth could happily tackle!
  • Incentivisation – Why should people get involved in the cooperative council, what’s in it for them? In order to engage people you need some form of reciprocity, Made in Lambeth could explore this and come up with ways of engaging the unengagable!

We can explore these themes in more detail at our next get together. As mentioned above the next meeting will be on the 1st august at 6pm, and we hope to create a more relaxed set up with no set agenda. If you want to come along do so between 6-8pm, with the aim of making things as much as possible. If you have any ideas for this, please let me know.

Another date for the diary is the 13/14 October 2012 – the second Made in Lambeth event.

See you then!

Nathan Pierce

Made in Lambeth – A good for Nothing event!

June 26, 2012




This post is an update on the Good for Nothing event that took place on Friday and Saturday (22/23 June) last week. It was a great success, and everyone who took part was really energised and some great work was done in a short amount of time. For more on the Good for Nothing format, take a look at their website here.

The event started on the evening of the 21st where the project briefs were introduced (take a look at them here) and we everyone got to meet each other for the first time. The group was really dynamic and diverse and included council officers, designers, developers and generally talented local people.

On the Friday the work began in earnest and each group began to explore their brief in more detail, and in some cases tear up the brief and start from a different point entirely! Work began on the doing aspect and plans were drawn up. On the Saturday the tempo of the music increased and everyone frantically worked to produce something tangible. The whole event finished with presentations of what had been created, and everyone was impressed with the outcome!

Lambeth Website – A new website was designed, coded and launched in the 48 hours. The basics for a Lambeth co-op website were created and the website can be seen here It was built using Open Public Drupal distribution (yes, I had no idea what that was either, but I’ve learnt a lot in those 48 hours!) and incorporates the work we have been doing around open data. This website will run alongside our current website while the content is migrated over. Try it out – search for school meals….

Lambeth Healthwatch – The slightly more tricky of the three briefs, this group worked on setting up Healthwatch, a local consumer group for users of health and social care services. After a slow first day trying to work out what Healthwatch actually is, they had an incredibly productive second day in which a process and service design for the consumer group was developed, a design for the webpage put together and prototyped, twitter groups set up and launched, profiling of Lambeth residents including visits to doctors surgeries and a process designed for coproducing a network of community connectors, drawing on existing networks.

Lambeth Parks – The final project group looked at Lambeth’s parks and how they can increase the use of our parks and open spaces. After visiting some parks on the first day, the group found that our larger parks are already well used by the community, so they focused instead on the smaller ‘unloved’ areas in and around estates. They put together a Love your Space campaign and encouraged people to identify ‘unloved spaces’ and start to develop ideas around how they can be bought back into use

The event as a whole was an experiment into a new way of the working for the council. The Good for Nothing methodology worked really well and everyone who took part got allot of out it, from a professional and social point of view. Cllr Jack Hopkins and Sophia Looney, Director of Policy, Equalities and Performance, have developed blogs regarding the weekend and they can be viewed here: And as you can see, they are definite converts to the process!

We will be continuing with the work developed over the weekend and will work to ensure that we keep the momentum on these projects. Looking forward, the next Good for Nothing event will take place on the 29/30 September. Put these dates in your diary if you want to come along, and more details will follow.

Nathan Pierce,  Lambeth council

Coproduction Action Learning Set

June 20, 2012

Over the past year Lambeth Council has run a Coproduction Action Learning Set – an informal network where Lambeth staff share learning and ideas about coproduction. Coproduction is a simple idea, and one that has been explored on this toolkit in some detail. Each meeting allocates about half the time to exploring a theme related to coproduction; and the rest of the time to sharing challenges and successes enabling staff to support each other as they grow their skills in coproduction.

The May meeting focused on the role of procurement in coproducing services. The Action Learning Set heard a presentation from Eugene McLaughlin, Interim Head of Procurement at Lambeth and discussed ways the council needs to take a different attitude to risk in order to really deliver Cooperative Council values. The group also explored how residents might be more involved in the procurement process, ways in which procurement can be involved earlier in the process of commissioning a service and they also looked at what national and EU regulation could act as barriers to coproduction.

Future Coproduction Action Learning Set sessions will focus on:

  • July – Feedback from the Good for Nothing event. At this session we will have feedback regarding the Good for Nothing event from the three project leads (parks, council communications and health and social care services), highlighting the innovative methods of coproduction that were developed and looking at the problems or issues that arose.
  • September – Ensuring coproduction is inclusive/accessible to all. In this event we will explore how to identify what groups/individuals could be involved in coproduction, and how you then reach out and get them involved. We will also get detailed feedback from cultural services regarding the coproduction of Lambeth’s libraries.
  • November – Sustaining participation throughout the process. One of the key challenges in the sustainability of coproduction, is not just getting people involved for a one-off event, but sustaining an open dialogue over the longer term. This session will start to explore the theme of incentives and how you might use them to enable sustained coproduction
  • January – Managing conflicts/ facilitating between what stakeholders and senior managers/members identify as priorities. This session will describe Lambeth’s decision making process and explore how this may sometimes be a barrier to coproduction. It will explore how far the council is prepared to open up and accept the results of coproduction, and what changes need to be made to procedure/culture in order to improve.
  • March – Coproducing the ‘strategic’ rather than service. This session will consider the challenges associated with coproducing a high level strategy, rather than coproducing more practical front line services.

So far the Action Learning Set has been run as an internal group for the council. However, we are open to shared learning across a range of partners and organisations. So if you are interested in attending a future session then please contact me, Nathan Pierce, at

Future Thinking event – Cohesion and Resilience

April 2, 2012

Lambeth Council held the second in a series of ‘Future Thinking’ events at the Town Hall in Brixton on the 27th March. Future Thinking events allow people to share ideas across organisations and between professionals and residents, building capacity and stronger networks as we go.

The topic for this event was cohesion and resilience. Lambeth’s cooperative ambitions are founded on the idea that the council can work in partnership with residents, and that power can be devolved to communities, giving them greater freedom to shape their own lives. There is recognition, therefore, that a cooperative borough needs resilient communities that have the capacity to participate.

Most people will think of resilience as being able to bounce back from damaging events, but for Lambeth resilience means more than that. It means being flexible and having the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, be they evolutionary changes or sudden changes. This applies to both individuals as well as to communities. This event brought people together to discuss the strength of Lambeth communities, what resources there were to build cohesion and resilience, and what circumstances might threaten that resilience.

On the night it was a great turn out with a vibrant crowd who got involved in the workshops and listened to two superb and thought provoking presenters. First up was Nicola Bacon from the Young Foundation who presented findings from the Local Wellbeing Project, where they have explored the meaning of wellbeing and how is it best measured, delving deeper into communities rather than just looking at deprivation statistics. One of the key findings from their research is that an individual’s resilience is key to their wellbeing and the extent to which they are able to thrive. The Young Foundation have taken practical steps to pilot teaching resilience in schools with interesting results. On a larger scale, the YF have tried to understand why different communities with similar socio-economic profiles can have very different outcomes. They argue that policy that focuses on wellbeing and resilience can improve other outcomes such as educational achievement, community engagement and parenting support.

More information on Nicola’s research can be found here:

The second presentation was by Max Wind-Cowie from Demos. He presented findings from research carried out on ‘pride and patriotism’, explaining that there is disconnect between political narratives of patriotism and ordinary citizens’ pride in Britain. Max explained how the data he had gathered suggested that pride does not come from top down narratives such as the royal family, or progressive values. Rather, modern British patriotism is founded in a emotional connection to the everyday acts, manners and kindnesses that British people see in themselves; pride and patriotism are hyper-local. This is important for those thinking about how to engage communities and boost participation. Those who love their country or their locality, for example, are likely to volunteer more and to trust their neighbours more than those who are either ambivalent or ashamed about Britain and their locality.

For more on his research, follow this link:

Between the two presentations we conducted two workshop exercises where we invited people to explore the themes of cohesion and resilience in more detail. Firstly we asked people to identify examples of community resilience in Lambeth, thinking about areas where it is strong, and where it is under threat due to changes in the political and economic landscape. We then invited people to record these examples on large maps of Lambeth, adding a geographic dimension.  Some of the examples identified were:

Strong examples

Examples under threat

  • Brixton Town Centre
  • Youth Services
  • Libraries
  • Green champions
  • Cultural centres
  • Parks
  • Charismatic individuals embedded in the local community
  • Brixton Markets
  • South Lambeth market
  • Bonnington Square
  • Local bloggers
  • Vauxhall Gardens Community Centre
  • Old Lillian Baylis site – activities for young people
  • South Lambeth Library
  • Community Freshview
  • ‘Friends of’ groups
  • Local forums
  • Churches and faith communities
  • South London theatre
  • West Norwood Feasts
  • Festival events
  • Vida Walsh Centre
  • Support networks
  • Small community organisations
  • Skate parks for younger people
  • Community Centres
  • Granville Arcade regeneration
  • The Cinema Museum
  • Bilingual nursery school in Clapham
  • Volunteering
  • St Michaels Fellowship services for pregnant teenagers
  • Faith groups that do not promote unity
  • Youth services
  • Lunch Clubs
  • Local forums
  • Connectors in community
  • Lambeth 2XL – now gone
  • Brixton town centre has not been developed enough, crime getting worse
  • Lambeth Community Police Consultative Group (public voice)
  • Libraries
  • Integrated care pilots
  • Large shops forcing small ones to close
  • Language barriers
  • Building links with young people
  • Deviant behaviour through social networks
  • Increase in homophobic attacks in the borough
  • Reduced public spending
  • No representation for young Somali people in Streatham
  • How are the new pool facilities involving people in their design and development?
  • Drugs taken outside bookies.
  • Loss of Streatham pool
  • Welfare reforms
  • Break up of Streatham between 3 constituency’s means that there is a loss of a community leader.

In the second workshop we asked people to discuss what it means to belong in Lambeth and how this is changing over time. Building on the examples identified in the first session, we asked what people thought Lambeth’s communities might look like in the future, and what can be done now to influence it. Participants recorded their conversations as a ‘postcard from the future’ to people in the present day, outlining what Lambeth is like in 2020 and what happened to get there. People were very imaginative with this and we got some interesting feedback, photos of these postcards can be seen below:

The next Future Thinking event will take place soon and the topic is Localism, and what this will mean on a practical level for both residents and public services. Invites will be sent out shortly. If you wish to discuss any aspect of this event in more detail, please contact Nathan Pierce in Lambeth Council on 0207 926 6917.