Welcome to this blog

This website has been set up as a searchable archive of the articles and items published in the Co-production Wales newsletters between 2013 and 2015. To locate something in this archive, please click the search icon in the hexagon above. You can also browse categories and most used tags by clicking the cog icon in the hexagon above. For the main website resource, please visit allinthistogetherwales.wordpress.com


Co-production pilot in Toomebridge

Community Development and Health Network (CDHN) and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council together with people from the Toomebridge area have been involved in a socially innovative co-production project.
Since October 2015 Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council through its Joint Working Arrangements Steering Group (JWA) with the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) and the Northern Health and Social Care Board (NHSCB) have been investing in a co-production pilot in Toomebridge. This project has been developed over a period of 2 years it has a co-production focus and has relied on 6 principles of co-production throughout its development.

  • Recognising people as assets
  • Building on people’s existing capabilities
  • Promoting mutuality and reciprocity
  • Developing peer networks
  • Breaking down barriers between professionals and recipients
  • Facilitating rather than delivering

The project has engaged with 29 people some of whom had little or no previous involvement within their community. Through CDHN’s Community Health Champion programme the group have gone on to establish themselves as the Duneane Collective. This training programme was the catalyst that brought the community and statutory partners together. They built trust and relationships began to develop which has enabled the community to view The Council differently but also how they see their role within the community and their relationships to each other. It has demonstrated to the The Council and other statutory partners that there is great merit in engaging with communities differently.
The Duneane Collective have developed an asset map of their area, a health and wellbeing catalogue, established a Timebanking working group, organised a community spirit day, managed their own budget and designed their own logo and vision statement. They are currently planning ways in which they can address health and wellbeing issues that they as a group have identified as important for their community.

Collective member comment on their involvement in co-production pilot.

“You can be part of the solution to some of the problems in your area as opposed to accepting the status quo…….it has given me hope…..”

Communities Together: Fishguard and Goodwick  2014 – 2017


The Communities Together: Fishguard and Goodwick project was funded by the Big Lottery and run by Alcohol Concern Cymru from January 2014 – March 2017.

The aim was to promote a healthy relationship with alcohol for individuals and for the community as a whole. Fishguard and Goodwick were selected because they represent a typical Welsh community, not because they have any particular alcohol-related problems.

Participation Cymru were appointed external evaluators at the outset and the approach was highly participatory. A wide range of methods were used including a baseline and end of project survey, participatory workshops and one to one interviews. Four theme papers were also produced to aid reflection and inform the final evaluation.

The project’s asset based community development approach “starting where people are at”, underpins the project achievements. Local people were engaged from the very start and helped set the project’s aims and objectives. The role of the project manager was key and the post holder’s personal qualities and skills made an important contribution to the success project’s success. Being able to deploy small amounts of funding was important and showed tangible support and helped build trust.  There were two key process; providing support to individual activists and supporting the development of projects and activities identified by local people. These processes enabled people to work together to a common purpose and helped to “break down” silos. This resulted in a positive feedback loop or “virtuous spiral” with volunteers coming forward to organise activities.

In essence the ethos of the project from the beginning has been ‘this is yours’ rather than ‘this is ours’”.

Achievements of the project against aims and objectives

The project substantially achieved most of its aims and objectives. There were three main strands:

Raising awareness  – there was strong evidence that the project has substantially increased awareness of the consequences of alcohol misuse and four types of activity achieved this impact;

1) where the main focus was on alcohol eg taking part in Dry January and a community performance “It’s the Drink Talking”

2) Where the main aim was to bring people together and create community benefit, but with an explicit element of alcohol awareness eg The Wave – an event to raise awareness about safety issues surrounding swimming;

3) alcohol free activities such as Sound of Youth, a youth music event and Tea dances demonstrating it is possible to have fun without alcohol and

4) providing information about alcohol at activities run or supported by the project

The project also helped those who need it to get advice about alcohol use.

Bringing people together – this was achieved by organising new activities for older people such as intergenerational IT projects and nurturing a wide range of activities, some of which have achieved a significant impact through bringing large number of people together.   “What’s in it for You”, a community fair with over 350 visitors in 2016  and the “Lights On” event that takes place at beginning of December and attracting over 1,000 visitors in 2016 are good examples.

Promoting a dialogue about alcohol – the evaluation did not find a great deal of evidence that it encouraged parents and children to talk together about alcohol use. The project though did promote an extensive dialogue within the community and it is clear that parents and children will have been involved in these discussions.

In summary the project was an innovative process led by local people and supported by the project and had the following demonstrable results:

·       New activities, organisations, and skilled and committed individuals.

·       Greater awareness of the consequences of alcohol use;

·       More advice for those who need it

·       A dialogue about alcohol

·       A more cohesive and positive community

·       Sustainable impact

A copy of the final evaluation report written by Alain Thomas and Siobhan Hayward (Participation Cymru) is available.

Launching the Open Government Network Wales

by Jetske Germing
I’ve recently been appointed as Open Government Network Officer for Wales, based at WCVA. A new project, the Open Government Pioneers Project has been set up to build the capacity of people and civil society across the United Kingdom to contribute and input to policy-making and service delivery in progressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and in Wales, the Future Generations Goals.
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), in partnership with the Wales Council for Voluntary Organisations (WCVA), Involve, and Northern Ireland Environment Link, has been awarded a £500k Big Lottery Fund grant to work together over two years to support people to engage and challenge their governments to serve them better. There will be a particular focus in supporting people who are not normally heard in the decisions that affect them, and the connection between citizens and devolved governments of the UK home nations – not just Westminster.

Only a short while into the project I feel grateful to have had a high profile opportunity to launch the Open Government Pioneers project in Wales on the 7th March at the gofod 3 event. The panel discussion chaired by Anna Nicholl, Director of Strategy and Sector Development at WCVA started with an introduction to the panel’s work in relation to Open Government and their hopes for the Open Government Pioneers Network in Wales. Panel members included Owain Ap Gareth, Electoral Reform Society, Caren Fullerton, Chief Digital Officer Welsh Government, Kevin Davies, Head of Engagement National Assembly Wales and Peter Davies, Chair of WCVA Trustee Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development and Chair of the Customer Challenge Group Dwr Cymru. For a summary of the discussion please see http://wcva.tumblr.com/post/158472675375/launching-the-open-government-network-wales

If you are interested in being part of the Open Government Pioneers Network Wales, please do connect with us. Our next steps will be to establish the priorities for the Network, with input from Third Sector Networks, Government and other sectors.
Open Government Forum http://forum.opengovernment.org.uk/
Twitter @opengovcymru
Wiki https://opengovpioneers.miraheze.org/wiki/Main_Page

A Time Bank for Wales? Workshop & Seminar update

Edgar Cahn and Chris Gray came over from the States to help with the Timebanking Workshop and follow-up Welsh Government Seminar – both cracking events with lots of enthusiasm, plentiful ideas and, most importantly, a pile of commitments to action.

These included one from us! We’ve offered to act as a central communications point for all this activity, and to share information about time-banking with our Networks. Here are some useful links

Spice is a UK-wide social enterprise originating in Wales that develops agency timebanking systems for communities and public services. The site includes links to evidence of the impact of time-banking, media coverage and new models for development.

 Time Banking Wales

Resources, contacts and extensive experience of time credits and their capacity to strengthen communities and transform the lives of individuals.

Lots of organisations have promised to spread the word about time banking – what it is, what it can achieve, and how it works. They include WLGA, WCVA, PHW (who will explain the principles and process to local health boards), Welsh NHS Federation and the Big Lottery who will work with Spice and WLGA to share this information as widely as possible.

Might be an idea to get together to produce a fact sheet + resources so that we are all using the most relevant and up-to-date information. Any offers of help with this?

In addition, there was a proposal of using Welsh Government staff  5 Volunteering Days for piloting time banking within the Welsh Government, the Chief Medical Officer will work closely with us to identify academic partners for time banking. Prof Edgar Cahn also suggested software for time banking could be tested in Wales.

 Look out for information about the Time-banking Conference which will be held in the new year to provide updates about the actions and move us one step closer to the Finance Secretary’s aspiration for a time bank for Wales.


Seminar in the Welsh Assembly: There’s (much) more to life than services

You can take a horse to water… – Bob Rhodes, Lives through Friends
It was at the end of the launch of the Coproduction Network for Wales that an opposition AM approached me to ask whether I would be able to convene a session for new Members of the Welsh Assembly and their advisors to give them some background to the principles of strengths-based practice and co-production that are emblazoned so boldly in recent legislation – especially relating to Social Care and Wellbeing and Future Generations. We did something similar 4 years ago.
A date was agreed for a midday seminar and during the planning it soon emerged that we would be expected to feed our visitors – “they probably will go elsewhere otherwise?” We invested from our own pockets to satisfy this expectation!
Our emphasis for the seminar was essentially to share some of the best practice in community building and social care in Wales in the context of the obstacles and contrary systems conditions that the best leaders and practitioners need to overcome in order to achieve the results for which they are so appropriately respected. Leaders and practitioners in 9 leading edge agencies plus representatives of people who use public services and carers gave their time to planning and delivering an informative and collaborative event and, when the day arrived, only the sponsoring AM, one of his colleagues, and a press officer from the most relevant Cabinet Secretary’s team attended.
From this we can only adduce that the successful implementation, which will inevitably necessitate amendments, of Assembly policies on public services have little priority or interest for our elected representatives? With one exception, the subject of how we care for each other in Wales and the nature of the relationship between citizens and their institutions that impacts upon this did not even warrant AM’s delegating attendance to a researcher or advisor. We “led the horse to water” and ended up doing all the drinking (and eating) ourselves.
Our three hours together strengthened our Network but left us with little optimism that our life and career long experiences of rowing against the tide and working against the grain will ever change. The introduction of systemic co-production poses a deep-set culture change challenge for institutions in Wales – and that starts at the top.

A Better Future – Co-production in Torfaen

What would social care for people with learning disabilities look like if the people who used services designed, developed and decided what was needed?

In Torfaen and across the counties of Gwent we are on the brink of finding out.

As a former manager of provider services, I am personally challenged but ultimately excited by the prospect. I am convinced that the people who have experience of receiving services are a beacon of good sense and that many of the best ideas in social care come from the grassroots.

In October this year, I began the journey as innovation and development manager in Torfaen County Borough Council. The post, funded by the intermediate care fund, has the brief to coproduce a plan for new ways of working and delivering services for people with learning disabilities.

I have been lucky enough to enlist the excellent support of Barod (a training and information company whose owners are a mix of disabled and non-disabled people), Torfaen People First and other People First groups across Gwent as advisors and co-producers respectively.

Together we have developed some principles for our work:

  • People with experience of using services will decide upon the final recommendations
  • We will make sure that the voices of people with learning disabilities are put first
  • All the documents we produce will be as accessible as possible
  • We will work with other people and organisations involved with people with learning disabilities to include their ideas
  • We will find out about the best ideas and make them accessible
  • We will involve people using their strengths
  • People will be reimbursed for their time and expenses
  • We will use person centred communication

The final report will be published in April 2017, concluding a series of workshops and network events across Gwent. It will be easy read and will include business cases for new services and enterprises.

We have found many examples of good practice but would be interested to hear from anyone who has good ideas, knows of something that works well or wants to help in other ways.

Jim Wright – Innovation and Development Manager Torfaen County Borough Council

Mindfulness and Social Change (member-led network)

How can mindfulness support people working to promote sustainability, social justice and wellbeing in society? How can mindfulness training and practice in mainstream settings help or hinder efforts to address the systemic causes of social, economic and environmental problems? And what is the relationship between individual and social change?

These are some of the questions being explored by the Mindfulness and Social Change Network, a group of people working on issues such as equality, international development and climate change, whose mindfulness practice is at the core of their personal and professional lives. The Network now has over 70 members, and has run a workshop and a retreat, and is planning further events next year.

There are serious debates to be had in this area. Given the size and scale of many of the social, environmental and economic problems that we face, collaborating with others, through networking or forming coalitions, is a crucial strategy for making significant systemic change. People working for NGOs, charities and community organisations face significant pressure over funding, demonstrating impact and responding to complex, interwoven challenges. Many risk burn out, which affects the quality and longevity of their engagement in social change. Mindfulness training, particularly focusing on stress reduction, can promote resilience and mobilise people’s inner resources to support them through challenging situations. However, can mindfulness training be tailored to address deeper structural and systemic social and environmental issues?

The Mindfulness and Social Change Network aims to work together to explore these and other related questions. Members of the network include mindfulness practitioners from various European countries who have/are working for Oxfam GB, WWF, Amnesty International, UN bodies and a range of universities including Aberystwyth, Cardiff and the Open University. Please get in touch with Paula Haddock and Luke Wreford for further information about the network.