On the 9th January Steve Broome, Directer of Research Actions and Research Centre, RSA gave a seminar on Connected Communities in Lambeth, slides form the event can be found below.
We have used ‘appreciative enquiry’ to find out about how a new Lambeth sustainable and healthy food strategy is being coproduced.
- Demand for a food strategy has come from citizens via the huge interest in food-growing. Incredible Edible Lambeth, a loose network of food growing projects, is represented in the Food Partnership
- Coproduction allows citizens to take a leadership role
- The Council has an ambition for the food strategy to be an exemplar of a co-produced strategy
What is different?
- The Council is not leading the process – it is a partner (although the Council is providing some resources – funding from Invest to Save fund)
- We are expecting the food strategy to be written over a long time, and that untraditionally, some actions may happen before the strategy is agreed
- The first focus is to form a Partnership working group (often strategy is written first and then partnership set up to deliver the strategy)
What coproduction tools are you using?
- Appreciative Inquiry – got people to tell stories, amazing ‘project’ food brought into event – very inspiring
- Asset Mapping/Activity Mapping
- Participatory Appraisal (essentially talking to people in the street)
- World Cafe-style workshops and events
- Social networking
- Use of networks
What is working?
- We are building a strong partnership / collaborative
- We are building up a body of evidence
- Events have been well attended and they have created a ‘buzz’
What are the benefits?
- Buy-in from the partners so far is very strong
- We are bringing in new partners
- We seem to have a high degree of credibility
What isn’t working so far?
- We have had to keep the working group small to start with – this doesn’t feel very open and cooperative
- Writing the strategy is likely to take a long time – is this a problem?
- We don’t have a very clear ‘mission’ statement – communicating what a food strategy might do outside of the council or NHS is difficult
- It is difficult to reach decisions because we want a lot of change and to affect a lot of different groups
What would you do differently next time?
- Ensure that Incredible Edible Lambeth (citizen group) properly resourced. They have had to secure some external funding for capacity building to get themselves into a position to be an equal ‘partner’.
If you are interested in getting involved with the Lambeth Food Partnership please contact Sue Sheehan firstname.lastname@example.org
This group of projects has been funded by the council where it has been required. The aim was to prototype different approaches and review whether each project had the potential to be sustained as a community led venture. For the council to financially sustain community led projects in the long term is neither appropriate or viable. Aside from the financial support, there has also been the time invested from volunteers who have brought with them their expertise and personal commitment. The support required from the council and other organisations for example High Trees Community Trust and Lambeth Living has ranged from a sympathetic ear to practical support. Some projects have required more support than others to explain processes, navigate communication channels and clear blockages. Where another organisation has been the lead such as High Trees Community Trust, they have taken on this responsibility. Further consideration is required to review the available mechanisms and resources to support community led projects at start up through to developing into a sustainable enterprise.
The Tulse Hill estate is full of people with skills and resources, aspirations and ideas; and lots of green and communal spaces. Some people are already very active and neighbourly in the area, others perhaps haven’t had the time or the right opportunity to be involved yet. We are working with the TRA to help surface and link the many assets in the area, through projects that will introduce more people to each other, teach skills, and share resources.
As a first step, we have put up a roving exhibition – featuring inspiring and positive community-led projects from around the world that show the potential to do a lot with a little when many different people are included. And with a space for people to add their ideas for what they want to see more of on Tulse Hill Estate.
While putting up the exhibition we met and chatted to several people living nearby who wandered over to take a look at the posters, and talked through some great ideas for ways to celebrate different cultures through food and dance, and to create sports and outdoor activities for children.
The exhibition will be moving round the estate, offering some positive inspiration and a place to add ideas and create a shared community vision for the type of place people want Tulse Hill to be.
We’ll be holding a workshop on Monday 30 July for anyone who wants to find out more. We’ll take you on tour of amazing collaborative projects from around the globe, introduce some new activities, map like you’ve never mapped before, and leave you feeling like you can walk out and change the world!
Sign up online: http://yourideashere.eventbrite.co.uk
Or text ‘workshop’ to 07958 274 544
Lambeth is set to host the next London Co-production Practitioners Forum on the 19th June, 10am-12.30pm at the town hall (see booking details by clicking here).
The practitioners forum is run by the New Economics Foundation and brings together a range of individuals with expertise in doing genuine co-production to share knowledge and expertise. I attended the previous event hosted at Praxis in Bethnal Green, a great organisation doing some really valuable work with migrants and refugees in the area. At the event we also heard about the fantastic way that Look Ahead are mainstreaming co-production in their organisation. It was really interesting to hear (from a service user) about the way service users are really involved in the operations and decision making process at Look Ahead. This ranged from interviewing new employees and designing job advertisements to training staff members and developing pathways for service users to work in full time positions at the organisation.
We are really excited about hosting the next practitioners forum, the agenda is open for delegates to add items and we’ve added a couple about how Lambeth is embedding co-production across the organisation:
- Helen Sharp commissioning manger for young peoples services will be talking about work that she is doing with nef on embedding coproduction throughout youth services using the Outcomes Based Commissioning framework
- An interactive action-learning session on ‘The Challenges of Coproduction in the Public Sector’ . There will be facilitated discussion of interesting new coproduced projects and how they can be taken further.
It will be great to chat about the things we are up to with experts in co-production, there are plenty of organisations in Lambeth already doing co-production and we also hope to see lots of these local examples there too.
I’m going to use this space to update on projects – so it’s not going to look very strategic right now as I want to capture the detail .
Despite the terrible weather yesterday we had an excellent session with a group of 10 young male Tulse Hill residents from St Martins Estate, ranging from 11-25. Margaret from High Trees was there and we were also joined by Sandra Ferguson, Head of Community Investment at Metropolitan Housing Trust. MHT are the main landlord on the estate. We talked a lot about broken promises and disillusionment based on past experience but we were also able to focus on what we would like to do in the near future. We established:
- It’s quite easy to book the centre and there appears to be some availability in the early evenings
- Young people are interested in a range of activities including music production, sports, board games and console games.
- Older young people see themselves as community leaders and may be intested in supporting the younger people.
We are arranging a follow-up meeting with the centre management committee to look at a strategic approach to youth provision as well as seeing what we can do to pool resources to start some music and sports activities in the immediate future.
We are all very committed to making this work but will try not to raise expectation unrealistically.
We need to hear from young women on the estate as they weren’t represented yesterday.
So I recently promised (on twitter) a blog post on my thoughts about co-production and it’s use in the public sector to design (or re-design) public services. I’ve been involved in various activities, trying to embed co-production in the council over the last year. I am convinced that genuine co-production, when professionals really listen, design and deliver with service users and citizens, rather than to them, can and has delivered real innovation and savings.
I was reading about Governance International’s 5 step public transformation model for rolling out co-production across an organisation, which makes a lot of sense. What I particularly like about this (apart from that is a visual), is that it demonstrates there are different ways into the co-production cycle. So for example even if you aren’t designing a service from scratch (at this point in time) this doesn’t stop you from getting service users engaged in commissioning, delivering, assessing stages.
That said, applying co-production across a whole organisation has many challenges and requires a big culture shift. Through my observations (and in my opinion) these are probably the toughest challenges and misconceptions to overcome:
Stick ‘co-’ on front and we’ve done it
We in #localgov love a good buzzword and often go crazy with them, using them interchangeably, killing the meaning and then getting them banned. I am worried about this happening to co-production, just sticking a ‘co-’ on the front of an adjective in a report doesn’t mean we can say the service has been co-produced.
Consultation is not co-production
Consultation is not co-production. Drawing up a list of pre-decided options and asking residents and service users to choose the ones they prefer is still consultation. There should be no pre-decided options in genuine co-production, options and ideas are developed with service users and residents and professionals (this doesn’t however mean that you shouldn’t set parameters to work within i.e. budget, time etc).
There’s no role for the professional
Many individuals fear that co-production means they will be out of a job. But genuine co-production is impossible without professionals to guide, support and use their knowledge, experience and networks to help service users design the most effective services and outcomes. Professionals also need to define and explain the parameters for co-production: What is the budget? Is everybody involved? What are the time constraints? Etc.
Cost, time, risk
It’s very easy to say we can co-produce a service in 4 weeks. In reality genuine co-production of services can be time intensive, cost money and ultimately will require you to take risks. It is likely that the ideas you come up with may not have been done before and are very unlikely to reap huge savings straight away. This doesn’t mean that the parameters for co-producing can’t be set, but genuine co-production cannot be rushed and proper budgeting, planning and an acceptance of risk are needed to succeed.
Where are the examples?
‘We can’t co-produce until we’ve seen an example of where co-production has worked on a similar service’. This is used to argue that co-production doesn’t work, because there isn’t anywhere that it has been done in exactly the same way on the same service. But co-production of a particular service will probably look very different when done with a similar service. This is because your service users are different people. They will have very different needs and wants from your service, including very different ideas about how to get them. Just because this hasn’t been done exactly the same elsewhere, doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be done.
These are just some of the challenges and misconceptions that I think need to be overcome when embedding genuine co-production across whole organisations in the public sector. I would love to hear your thoughts on these and what can be done to overcome them?