Courage in Co-Production: A Day Festival

| Mel Parks

The Not Another Co-Production Festival took place at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry on Tuesday 5 July. This special event, the first of its kind, a celebration and culmination of a year’s work in Manchester, lived up to its name of co-production as happenings and conversations evolved during the day. 

In the spirit of embracing principles of co-production we knew we were stepping into the unknown and the attendees and groups taking part would shape the day. As expected we learned as much about what we would do again and build on as we did about what we do differently next time! But, had we not jumped in and given it a go, we would not have had the amazing opportunity to learn.

The festival had interactive boards with titles such as: ‘Confessions of a Co-Producer’ and ‘Contribute to an event poem on co-production’. There was impromptu dancing, and other invitations to join in with games and fun by The Shoopery. A public living room and yurt provided space for listening. Another highlight was the immersive performance by Made By Mortals using music, drama and audio recordings to tell hidden stories of young people struggling with mental health. 

Part of a three-year project, shaped by Ideas Alliance and People’s Voice Media, 12 organisations so far have benefitted from a lottery-funded programme of support to develop co-production across the region. Co-production means that when people use services in health and social care, they are fully listened to, as well as their families, carers and those around them, creating a better experience for all. Co-production offers the chance to transform social care and health provision to a model that gives people real choice and control. 

In the spirit of the project, grassroots changemakers were brought together with local regional and national organisations, movements and individuals to forge new partnerships and learn from social change activities. 

Participants appreciated meeting others who were committed to doing things differently and being at an event which lived up to the project’s intentions of being open to challenge, fun and mess! They also enjoyed the loose structure which offered space and time to share stories, develop thinking, and small conversations. 

Participants told us they enjoyed: 

The Made by Mortals show and facilitated discussion was great. Also the discussion after the Elephants Trail activity was good and created space to be in conversation and to think critically about how we run activities and how we do coproduction in different spaces. 

The loose structure which enable space and time to share stories. The Hidden stage show especially the piece of music.

The atmosphere and meeting people.

The different breakout spaces and the small conversations; although I didn’t always know what was going on where! the opening welcome, and generally the feeling of being welcome. the opportunity to share our work.

The spaces for thinking session and the play about Adam.

Participants took away these thoughts: 

I came away with several new contacts, solidified existing ones and met some people that I’ve been zooming for the first time in person.

Realising others are in the same boat!

It is good to be different and your voice is very important and needs to be heard.

The different forms co-production takes; that we should be talking about money and co-producing the budgets more; that so many people are passionate about making this better.

Creative approaches to engage, collaborate and co-produce with others.

We need more piracy in the NHS!

What’s Next?

The Not Another Co-Production Festival marks the end of year one of a three-year project. Next up – The Midlands! If you work for an organisation curious about developing co-production or who would like to embed co-production more firmly in your work, then we would love to hear from you by 29 August.

More articles from the Not Another Co-Production project: 

Not Another Co-Production Festival

Co-Production: What is it, exactly?

Rebuilding Community Connections with Not Another Co-Production Project (Parkinsons UK)

About Ideas Alliance

We are a social enterprise that wants public services to work in partnership with local people rather than to or for them, so better decisions are made and everyone can experience better outcomes. 

We partner with the brave pioneers and innovators who want to adopt this way of working using collaborative and community-based approaches.

Photo credit: Eddie Duncan-Rees and Sam Pharoah

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