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Co-Production Summary: “Our members get the services they want” 

“Our members get the services they want” – this is how Benjamin McCay, Co-Chair of Trustees at My Life My Choice sums up the benefits of co-production. 

 We decided to try out a ‘shared focus’ on co-production and lived experience this spring-summer. This short blog is about what we’ve found out so far by talking to four charities in depth and three of our action groups. We should be honest here that this is a mini-project in which we’ve spoken to VCSE leaders, a few with their own lived experience, about how they’ve involved people. This is not itself co-produced. 

 The Alliance’s focus on co-production was about two things:  

  1. Sharing how members are already doing co-production of various kinds – that’s what we’re covering in this blog 
  2. Working out how we can facilitate bringing lived experience insights and lessons into the new integrated care system – that’s a bigger question 

One thing we’ve discovered so far is that when we talk about co-production, we can’t avoid talking also about lots of other VCSE themes: equity, workforce, governance, commissioning, volunteering, fundraising. 

Since we began on this piece of work, we have published an extensive report about the VCSE sector’s general role in health and wellbeing in ‘BOB’. There are some findings about our workforce that are relevant: 

  • 60% of respondents say that many of their volunteers are/were also service users: this is below the national average at 67% 
  • The number of VCSE chairs of trustees with disabilities is under 3%: it’s 9.5% nationally 
  • the number of CEOs with disabilities is under 5%: it’s just below 8% nationally 

These are indicators that there is more work to do within our VCSE sector to promote lived experience leadership in paid and voluntary roles.

Case Studies

We’re pleased that five Alliance members have shared their experiences of working towards co-production. We asked what kinds of co-production VCSE organisations are doing: 

  • No. 5 Young People is now employing lived experience leaders within the charity who has had counselling and been volunteer young ambassadorsNo.5 Case Study
  • All trustees at My Life My Choice have lived experience of a learning disability: they make the big decisions with support and advice from trustee helpersMy Life My Choice Case Study
  • Recovery groups are co-designed and co-facilitated by people with lived and professional experience, paid the same rate, at Oxfordshire Discovery College ODC Case Study
  • Oxfordshire Mind has lived experience interviews who sit on every interview panel and the interview skills course is co-produced and co-delivered by themOxfordshire Mind Case Study

We asked for the benefits of co-production to VCSE organisations.

People told us: 

  • Having this within our culture has created a strong sense of togetherness 
  • The people you want to engage with the service are more likely to participate 
  • Being genuinely user-led sets us apart and is one of the reasons for our success 
  • It has taught us to listen actively to the people we want to engage about the little things as well as the big ones 

Co-Production Week 2023 brings together some good resources and guides : https://www.scie.org.uk/co-production/week/ 

We set out our intention with this mini-project here.


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