Learning from Inspiring Change Manchester’s coproduction journey

By James Found, Monitoring and Research Officer at Inspiring Change Manchester (ICM), first published on 24 May 2021 on ICM’s blog.

For the last 2 years Inspiring Change Manchester (ICM) has been working with Groundswell to help us to reflect on our coproduction journey and consider, as a City, where we should be going next.

A lot has happened in that time and the world feels like a slightly different place now but through it all we didn’t want to lose sight of why we were here and what we were trying to change.

Groundswell have been working closely with the partnership to understand how we built coproduction within our project, what’s changed during that time and pieced together some recommendations to help show what steps could be taken next to embed coproduction across all services.

Today we release Groundswell’s report detailing their findings.

So what have we learnt?

We already know that coproduction needs a fundamental shift in how services are being delivered, moving away from ‘institutionally’ and ‘organisationally’ driven responses to social challenges, to more ‘community-focused’ and ‘person-centred’ responses which places people and their communities as the source of our solutions.

But we also know that this is not easy. It needs a total shift in our cultures, beliefs, structures, policies and practices to make this happen.

 

So what does the report tell us?

There are some key messages that have emerged from the report that include:

Coproduction is a foundational activity that needs to be advocated for and built into all elements of how we build social initiatives. We need to be careful that it is not a ‘tagged on’ and ‘extended’ activity but shapes the way we fundamentally do things.

Championing flexible, participatory and open-ended approaches, which move away from target driven and time-limited responses can allow for coproduction to flourish because it gives space for relationships to develop. This enables people to begin to shape their own future, set their own goals and move forward at their own pace, which leads to permanent and sustained personal change

Shift employment practice to ensure that opportunities are being created for people with personal lived experience to find employment and directly shape and deliver support. This includes reviewing and reflecting on the barriers we are creating that prevents people from finding good employment whilst also thinking of ways to support people whilst in work.

Commission for coproduction which means giving space for coproduction in service design, developing participatory practices and moving away from ‘top-down’ and rigid outcomes frameworks which can allow coproduction to flourish.

On paper, these sound straightforward but we know this is not always easy and we know that we can’t always get this right. It has all provided food for thought for us as we enter our final year and start to think about the legacy of our work!

 

Want to know more?

Read the full report here.

Last year, for coproduction week, we wrote a series of blogs reflecting on some personal learnings. You can find them here.

You can also find all learning from the fulfilling lives programme on their website, here.