Viewpoint: True co-production and what that involves

Karen, Innovation and Evaluation Partner, Fulfilling Lives (Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham)

The aim of the System Behaviour and Co-production project is tocreate opportunities and resources to support the balance of power between people with current lived experience, and those with learned experience of multiple disadvantages when designing, delivering, commissioning, and evaluating services.  

This project is important to me because it has a bold ambition in terms of the changes it seeks to embed, but the reality of what it’s trying to do seems so obvious in some ways- of course we (as practitioners and professionals) should be bringing people with lived experience into every stage of the design, delivery, commissioning and evaluation of services- who better to shape services than the people who have experience of using them?  

In theory it should be simple enough to bring the voices of lived experience to the table, however careful considerations should be made about that involvement as it can become tokenistic if simple consultations are sought out for finite pieces as an after-thought. Instead, true co-production involves a culture shift towards a journey of learning- both about ourselves and our relationship with power, but also what it means to share it.  

In this project there is a constant desire and willingness to stretch ourselves to the next step in order to be co-producing authentically, but that takes time and energy and unbridled curiosity. 

In recent co-production activities at Fulfilling Lives LSL, we have heard the positive impact of the process on both practitioners and experts by experience, with people reporting feelings of increased compassion and understanding, as well as increases in confidence and a reinvigoration of drive and energy, which is a timely reminder of the positive impact it can make to everyone involved if we are willing to try. 

Read more about our System Behaviour and Co-production:

What did we learn from a peer research project? | Fulfilling Lives (

Let’s check our biases at the door & move beyond lived experience| Fulfilling Lives (

Understanding the complexity of the system| Fulfilling Lives (