Keeping the co-production values alive

Throughout the journey of Fulfilling Lives LSL, co-production has been at the heart of everything that we do. Giving equal value to the voices of both the decision makers and the people we support is fundamental to our values at Fulfilling Lives LSL.

Embedding co-production at all levels has become a mantra in this sector as we have come to realise the benefits of involving those who services are meant to help and benefit in the process of design and delivery. There has also been movement in embedding co-production in to commissioning and evaluating.

However, for those who are now becoming familiar with co-production, getting started might still seem lofty and daunting. So how do we turn that mantra into action, action into results and use those results to bring about the change we wish to see?

At Fulfilling Lives LSL we don’t claim to know everything there is to co-production, because we have borrowed, tried and tweaked some of the fantastic approaches that many organisations have been engaged in over the last 8 years. 

As our programme draws to a close, the work continues! We have time to reflect on our journey and to distil some threads and nuggets of wisdom that we hope will allow others in the co-production community to build on.  We have captured these reflections under the 5 Ps of co-production: Philosophy, People, Power, Patience and Product.

Philosophy if you don’t believe it you won’t achieve it  

We strongly believe that decisions should always be made alongside those who will be affected by the decisions. It is not just, fair or equitable to do so without them. True co-productive work is values driven, and this integral belief must be the foundation on which all the other values are built on.   

Peoplethere’s wisdom in learned and lived experience and both are worthy of being heard. 

People are the most important resource in the process of co-production. Co-production is all about people power, having the right people in place is essential; passionate, energetic people, thoughtful, reflective and compassionate people, frustrated people who see the barriers, and creative people who see solutions. A diversity of lived and learned experience is essential to the process.   

Powername the imbalance to tame the imbalance 

Power is often the elephant in the room. You can’t do co-production work without acknowledging and exploring the power or perceived power. This includes age, race, social status, ableness, gender and education.  

“Power sharing requires the power holders to let go of the comfort and power associated with “knowing”.” (Hung, L. et al. 2018)

Patience- Trust the process  

Passion and excitement by no means prevent group dynamics from coming into play! Take time to equip those with lived experience or who have not had the opportunity to be heard so they can participate effectively in the process. Resist guiding the process into your own preconceived destination! 

Productparticipant’s transformation is just as important as systems, services, and process transformation. 

Aim for the co-production process to be a positively enriching and developmental experience for the participants. Tease out the skills that are often hidden within those with lived experience. New systems, process, services often need new roles, to meet the new demands. 

At Fulfilling Lives LSL, we see co-production not as a policy to be shelved and taken out at reviews and funding cycles but an everyday value to work towards. Through our key learnings we recommend:

  • Commissioning, designing, delivering, and evaluating services around people’s experiences leading to preventive rather than reactive approach to service provision. 
  • Embedding coproduction at all levels of service commissioning and delivery. 
  • Creating a blended workforce to embed the voice of lived experience at all levels of the organisation and those organisations ensure a progressive development plan for the entire workforce.
  • Strengthening the networks of coproduction across local boroughs and to align with national movements like the NECG (National Expert Citizen Group). 

Fulfilling Lives Lambeth, Southwark & Lewisham is a programme funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, providing support to people experiencing multiple disadvantage and testing new ways of ensuring individuals receive joined up and person-led services which work for them.


Hung, L. et al. 2018. ‘Appreciative Inquiry: Bridging Research and Practice in a Hospital Setting’. International Journal of Qualitative Methods . Vol. 17, pp 1-10.