The Importance of Co-Production

Date: 25 June 2020   Author: Energise Me

co-production being used by youth group


What is co-production?

Simply put, co-production is the practice of designing services and interventions for people, with those people. It utilises the lived experiences and the knowledge and skills of the very people you are setting out to try to help. Whether this is having young people on your trustee board, consulting with patients about new healthcare services, or involving people of different backgrounds in community development. The Social Care Institute for Excellence has lots of examples of co-production in practice.

In a physical activity setting, co-production might look like:

  • Community consultation prior to building a new leisure centre, to ensure that the wants and needs of LGBTQ+ individuals, or those with disabilities are considered.
  • Youth-led decisions about when and where to train.
  • Listening to and acting upon the feedback from participants.

Co-production can be big or small, but the one thing it should never be is tokenistic.


Involving young people for the right reasons

As a coach or youth worker, it can be difficult to open ourselves up to true co-production. So often we become weighed down with the reasons why it might not work. Why it is challenging. Why things “have to be” the way they are. And it is very common, when we are getting used to co-producing and co-designing services, to engage young people superficially or because we think we should.

If you are involving young people in your work, ask yourself: what are they getting out of this experience? What am I learning from them? How will I act on that learning? And be open with the young people about what you can and cannot do. Their input might affect the time or day of a session, but you might not be able to move location, for example.

Remember: if services and offers are co-designed with young people, those young people will be far more willing to engage and will likely show better outcomes.


team meeting using co-production


Youth engagement with Energise Me

As we progress in our mission to tackle inactivity, the team at Energise Me consult with a wide range of partners, including young people. It is our job to ensure that the Satellite Clubs offer is meeting the wants and needs of young people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. We also ask our Satellite Club partners to ensure their clubs are customer-led. With young people heavily involved in decisions and design. The ideal Satellite Club would involve young people from inception, right through to the end of the funding period, and beyond!

Some tips on co-production of Satellite Clubs:

  • Consult with young people in a group/youth setting/community to find out what activities they might like to try, and what is preventing them from doing so. You can consult in person, via online survey, through social media, or by working with partners.
  • Ask young people what a successful Satellite Club would look like to them. Work with them to design evaluation and outcome measures.
  • Empower young people to make decisions about their club. What it should be called. Where it should take place. Who the right coach/instructor might be.
  • Make your Satellite Club a truly safe space. Where young people’s voices are listened to and respected, where they can express feedback – positive and negative – without fear or judgement.

Check out our helpful guides, Understanding Vulnerable Teenagers and Activity Design for Vulnerable Young People, or explore our Satellite Clubs page to find out more.

If you have any questions or thoughts on co-production, or any examples of innovative practice to share, please get in touch with Emma.

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