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The Midlands Co-Production Network

Are you based in the Midlands and interested in user and community co-production of public services and outcomes? If yes, we'd like to invite you to join the Midlands Co-Production Network. The objectives are to share good practice, to learn from others and develop together co-production approaches for achieving better outcomes and/or savings.

The network includes public managers, commissioners, members of the local community, academics and other people interested in co-production. It has grown to over 150 members since it was founded in 2011. Governance International coordinates the (free) network events - have a look at the records of all 19 (!) events delivered so far. If you'd like to receive information on upcoming events please contact If you're interested in hosting an event or making a contribution at an event, we'd like to hear from you! Please contact

Widening and deepening co-production across local public services

Online Workshop, 24 March 2021

We are delighted to announce that the first Midlands Co-production Network event of the year will take place on 24 March between 10.00 and 13.00. It will be entirely online and we will send a link to all those who register in advance. As an online event, we expect national (and even international) participation, so hurry to register your interest!

We have lined up a very exciting schedule of activities during the event, Colleagues from Birmingham City Council will be joining us to explain their approach to co-production with citizens. The session will provide practical examples of what has worked and what could have gone better, along with details of the challenges they faced as Covid struck and how they have continued to ensure co-production continues.

Presenters in the session will include citizens as well as John Williams, Assistant Director for Adult Social Care and the team (June Marshall, Simon Furze, Amanda Heaney and Adib Qassim) who are central to making sure co-production is a success.   

The focus for the session is to enable delegates to get a greater understanding of:

  • Birmingham’s approach to co-production including the importance of senior management and political support from the start.
  • The tools for co-production success, designed by and with citizens.
  • Real examples from lead officers from across the city council regarding their experiences of co-producing with citizens.
  • Ensuring that citizens are valued as equal members of any co-production activity undertaken, how we evaluate the difference made and feed this into future service planning.
  • Finally – how we have supported our citizens to be resilient.

Catch-up hour: In the final session, as always, all participants will have the chance to share what they are currently up to and to seek comments and ideas from other participants. If you would like to make a formal presentation during this session, just let us know. 

Meanwhile, we are planning ahead for further events in the summer and later in the year. If you would like to make a presentation at one of these events, please get in touch. Again, if there are topics which you are keen that we should cover in future events, have a chat with us.

We very much welcome newcomers so feel free to share this invitation with your colleagues.

To register, please email with your name, address and organisational affiliation (if any).

Co-production for Employability

21st Midlands Co-Production Network Event

Hosted by Surrey County Council and Governance International
17 October 2019, 10.30–3.30 at the MAC, Birmingham

We’re delighted to announce our 21st Midlands Co-Production Network event, in collaboration with Surrey County Council (SCC), which will look at ‘Co-production for Employability’, as well as allowing network members to catch up with each other’s recent co-production activities.

Governance International and Surrey County Council are pleased to invite you to participate at this event, which is free for anyone interested in co-production or in employability issues. In particular, if you have experience with using a co-production approach or if you plan a co-production project with local people to improve their employability, please come and share your experiences.

The topic will be introduced by presentations from Surrey County Council, which has launched an exciting new co-production initiative to increase the employability of young adults - the IMAGINE Project. Surrey County Council is one of nine European organisations participating in a transnational project, piloting different models to co-produce employment opportunities with young adults in horticulture. This project is part-funded by the EU Interreg North West Europe programme, which supports social innovation as part of a broader drive to ensure that NW Europe is “an attractive place to work and live, with high levels of innovation, sustainability and cohesion”.

A number of other speakers will also provide insights into how they have used co-production to further the employability of local people. They include:

  • Elke Loeffler, Director of Governance International, on five co-production projects (which have built on the Governance International Co-production Star training programme) in MainArbeit, the employment agency of Offenbach in Germany.
  • Conrad Parker, manager of the USE-IT employability project at Birmingham City Council.
  • Andrew Barnes, until recently Lead Manager on employability in Birmingham City Council.

During lunch there will be opportunities to network with other participants. The afternoon will be given over to a "world café" workshop to discuss topical co-production issues more generally and to give participants the chance to share their latest co-production activities and discuss them with other participants. 

This event will provide you with a forum to:

  • learn about innovations around Europe in the use of co-production to improve the employability of young people;
  • explore the potential of a transnational learning network related to the IMAGINE project
  • share your own co-production practices with colleagues from the Midlands and beyond.



(PDF download)

Summary of the Midlands Co-Production Workshop co-hosted by Surrey County Council
(PDF download)

Presentation by Chris Tisdall and project partners, Surrey County Council
The IMAGINE project: co-production; horticulture; employability; and letting the magic happen…
(PDF download)

Presentation by Elke Loeffler, Governance International
Co-Production Star Action Learning through five Co-Production Labs with Offenbach Employment Agency
(PDF download)

Conrad Parker, Birmingham City Council
Birmingham City Council’s approach to promoting employability: The Project USE-IT
(PDF download)

Co-production: where are we at, where are we going?

20th West Midlands Co-Production Network Workshop

Hosted by Governance International and the Citizen Voice Team of Birmingham City Council 
4 July 2018, 10.00-13.00 at the Mac, Birmingham

We’re delighted to invite you to a special event of the West Midlands Co-Production Network to celebrate its 20th meeting. It will take place on the morning of Wednesday 4 July at the MAC in Birmingham.

We want to take this opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved since the network started in 2011 and which barriers we still need to overcome to embed effective co-production approaches in public services and local communities. In particular, we’d like to invite all organisations which have hosted a Co-Production Network event in the last seven years to make a brief contribution to share lessons learnt.  We will also have a small number of brief presentations by keynote speakers to seed our discussions.

In the discussion round tables, you will have the chance to explore with others how your service-wide or council-wide co-production approach has developed, what has held back your co-production journey and how you might give it fresh impetus where it has stalled. To give this process a jump start, we will invite all participants to come with a short analysis of these points to share with their colleagues at the discussion round tables – we’ll provide a short template for this. 

At the end of the session, we would like to reflect with you on how to focus the next round of network meetings, with a particular emphasis on strengthening future opportunities for peer learning. For further information download the exciting programme.

We look forward to seeing lots of long-standing network members and newcomers at this special event. So don’t wait and register now by dropping an email to

Co-producing positive commissioning outcomes

19th West Midlands Co-Production Network Workshop

Hosted by the Citizen Voice Team of the Commissioning Centre of Excellence,
Birmingham City Council
30 May 2017

This network workshop focussed on organisational requirements for co-production. How can we embed co-production in organisational strategies to achieve better public outcomes and savings for public sector organisations? What other conditions need to be put in place to mainstream successful co-production projects and value staff who engage with people accessing services based on co-production principles? In other words, how can we ‘Break through the Wall’, as Viv Eden called her interactive exercise in which she engaged all participants of this West Midlands Co-Production Network Workshop.

The lively interview by Viv Eden with people accessing services showed that co-planning and co-delivering the Opportunities Fair made a real difference to the people involved. It was obvious that Viv Eden is very skillfull in using the strengths, ideas and skills of ‘experts by experience’ but this session raised the question: do all staff working in public services have such skills for co-production? One key finding of the staff survey carried out by the Commissioning Centre for Excellence in 2016 was that a significant number of staff had limited experience of citizen involvement.  Matthew Bick from Birmingham City Council, presenting the survey results, suggested that more training and staff development was needed if this was to change. Afzal Hussain and Sarah Blackstock of Witton Lodge Community Association demonstrated through their Living Well Project how to roll out a co-production approach quickly and make a difference for local communities. Again, staff skills to engage with and get the best out of the capabilities of local residents proved to be key to the success of the project.


(PDF downlod)

Presentation by Matthew Bick, Birmingham City Council: 
Getting ready for co-production – The Staff Survey of the Commissioning Centre for Excellence
(PDF download)

Results of the ‘Bricks in the Wall’ group work on obstacles to co-production, facilitated by Viv Eden, Birmingham City Council
(PDF download)

Results of the Governance International “Your Views on Co-Production” Poster Session
(PDF download)

© Copyright Think Big Picture 2017

Growing stronger communities in our neighbourhoods
through co-production

18th West Midlands Co-Production Network Workshop

Hosted by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
7 September 2016


Watch the video clip 'Clean for the Queen: Solihull' uploaded by Solihull Council
(video clip)

Learn about the multi community-award winning boxing programme Box Clever, created and led by former World & Commonwealth (WBU) middleweight boxing champion Wayne Elcock
(Box Clever website)

Check out the transformation and new projects of the community centre Three Trees in Solihull
(Three Trees website)


(PDF download)

Presentation by Solihull Council:
Neighbourhood Activity Programme – Love Solihull
(PDF download)

Download the presentation by Tony Bovaird, Governance International:
Balsall Heath Evaluation
(PDF download)

Results of the group work done at the Solihull event:
Your Views on Co-Production – A Governance International survey
(PDF download)

What Do Local Councils Know About Their Local Communities?
(PDF download)

Neighbourhood management and co-production in a 21st Century Community Hub

17th West Midlands Co-Production Network Workshop

Hosted by Birmingham City Council, at Stirchley Baths B30 2JT
15 March 2016

Download the programme.

Download the presentation on the transformation of Stirchley Baths and new community offer by Karen Cheney, Selly Oak District Head (pdf).

Download the results on the Governance International “Your Views on Co-Production” poster session (pdf).

Access the presentation by Kate Andrews on the heritage and arts work in Stirchley Baths

Co-producing inclusion of families and disabled young people and integration of refugees

16th West Midlands Co-Production Network Workshop

Hosted by Coventry City Council
9 December 2015


This half-day workshop hosted by Coventry City Council focussed on social inclusion of families, disabled young people and the integration of refugees. Learn  

Download the programme

Download the presentations delivered at the Coventry network event:

Coventry City Council (Louison Ricketts)
Grapevine Coventry and Warwickshire (Clare Wightman)
Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (Luda Ruddock)

Download the results of our co-production survey (Your View on Co-Production)
Download the results of the group work on how to develop peer support 

Are citizens ready for co-production?

Co-production survey results from Australia, Germany and the UK: Implications for market research in public services

15th West Midlands Co-Production Network Workshop

Hosted by Birmingham University
28 April 2015

The 15th West Midlands Co-Production Network event will take place on 28 April from 10 AM – 1 PM hosted by Birmingham University. The theme of this event will be: “Co-production survey results from Australia, Germany and the UK: Implications for market research in public services”.

We’re excited to welcome Professor John Alford of University of Melbourne and  Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) as a keynote speaker. Many of you will have read his book “Engaging public sector clients: from service delivery to co-production” so this is a chance to meet him in person and to learn more about co-production in Australia. Check his blog on co-production in Australia with Sophie Yates to understand what Australia has to offer to the UK in community and user co-production.

Furthermore, Elke Loeffler will brief you on the key results of a large co-production research project commissioned by the Bertelsmann Foundation in Germany. The results of a national citizen survey show to which extent German citizens are already working with local authorities and what they are doing at present and willing to do in the future to improve the wellbeing of young and older people.

Tony Bovaird will provide the results of similar market research undertaken at local level in England and Wales. The network event will conclude with a workshop to reflect on market research required in public services to engage more citizens in co-production.

Download the exciting programme.

Tackling worklessness and youth unemployment:  Neighbourhood-based and co-produced

14th West Midlands Co-Production Network Workshop 

Hosted by Witton Lodge Community Association­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­, Perry Common Community Hall
10 February 2015

Witton Lodge Community Association hosted the 14th West Midlands Co-Production Network meeting. The workshop focussed on how to tackle worklessness and youth unemployment through neighbourhood-based and co-produced approaches.

Staff and volunteers of Witton Lodge Community Association talked participants through the co-production journey of Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) , which is a resident-led housing association. They showed that WLCA provides more than just high quality housing and neighbourhood services in Perry Commons.

The CEO, Afzal Hussain has put the reduction of worklessness and youth unemployment high on the agenda of WLCA. An inter-active workshop by the WLCA team provided participants an idea of how WCLA put this in practice.

Tony Bovaird of Governance International briefed the participants about the amazing transformation of young people services of Surrey County Council. As Tony Bovaird stressed, the results of an external evaluation undertaken by Birmingham University and Governance International speak for themselves. As a result, the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) in Surrey has more than halved and is nationally outstanding, showing that Surrey had the joint lowest NEET proportion in England between November 2013 and January 2014.

Last but not least, participants had the opportunity to network and exchange news on co-production projects and other activities.

Programme of the 14th West Midlands Co-Production Network

Download the presentations at the 14th West Midlands Co-Production Network meeting:

Witton Lodge Community Association: Community-led development of housing and neighbourhood services
pdf download

How Community Lodge Community Association works with local partners to reduce youth unemployment
pdf download

Creating safe, resilient and networked neighbourhoods

13th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Governance International, The Mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham
15 December 2014

How well do you know your neighbours? Would you be willing to give a hand to help out neighbours or to visit lonely people near you? Do you feel safe yourself going out after dark - would you like someone who could accompany you?

Our work with the Governance International Co-Production Star Toolkit has shown that there are lots of unused community resources to tap into but also the need to be strategic as not every co-production initiative is going to be effective. The exciting programme of the network event provided participants with a policy, delivery and grassroots perspective on the potential of co-production for creating safe, resilient and networked neighbourhoods. 

Abdullah Rehman, an experienced community-capacity builder and current CEO of Balsall Heath Forum, told the participants how Balsall Heath Forum developed from a public safety co-production initiative and described the new conversation which the Balsall Heath Forum has started with local residents to mobilise even more local people to improve public safety and wellbeing in Balsall Heath. Read the Governance International Balsall Heath Forum case study on how co-production in Balsall Heath started. 

Stephen Rimmer, until recently Director-General for crime and policing in the Home Office, and current West Midlands Strategic Lead for Preventing Violence against Vulnerable People,  talked about a major new initiative between the City Council and West Midlands Police on preventing violence to vulnerable people, and the need to start from an outcomes perspective. Download Stephen Rimmer's presentation.

Superintendent Richard James (Northamptonshire Police) has developed a toolkit for getting the community to do more to help increase safety in their areas - as he says: "When you run out of money, it's time to use your brains".  Download Richard James' presentation.



Co-production in Mental Health: How to make it real?

12th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Independent Advocacy, Healthy Villages Birmingham and Governance International, Birmingham
9 July 2014

Independent Advocacy, Healthy Villages Birmingham and Governance International hosted the 12thnetwork event on co-production in mental health. The event was highly inter-active and invited network members to co-design the transformation of a mental health service for young people! Another highlight was our guest speaker Julie Christie of East Dunbartonshire Council who took participants through the co-production journey with people affected by dementia in East Dunbartonshire and shared with the participants what the co-production project PRESENT with Governance International is about. 

For details check the programme

Look in the presentations on the Governance International “Capabilities Assessment” Toolkit and the Project PRESENT in East Dunbartonshire which gives people affected by dementia a presence through co-production.

From Micro to Macro - How ideas of local people and social enterprises can change local communities in Wolverhampton

11th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Wolverhampton City Council, Wolverhampton
17 February 2014

The West Midlands Co-Production Network is grateful to Wolverhampton City Council for hosting the 11th network event. Download the programme to learn about great co-production initiatives in Wolverhampton and the speakers of the event.

What's the business case for co-production in public services?

10th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by INLOGOV, Laria and Governance International, Birmingham
24 October 2013

Copyright © Laura Brodrick, ThinkBigPicture, 2013


As public budgets are being severely cut, public service commissioners and providers are becoming increasingly interested in co-production as an alternative model for public services.

There is no lack of case study evidence - nor indeed of inspiring testimonials from citizens and front-line staff - that co-production brings about better solutions, including improved outcomes and lower costs. However, there is still not much solid evidence on the impact of co-production. This conference explored the evidence that exists and ways to construct a business case for public service co-production. 

The central issue for the day was: What is the evidence on whether co-production can be a cost-effective solution for local government services? 

The conference was hosted by three of the leading UK organisations in the field of co-production:

  • INLOGOV – for over 45 years the most prestigious centre of local government research in Europe, providing expertise on commissioning of public services and delivery of public outcomes.
  • LARIA – the Local Areas Research and Intelligence Association, whose members are gathering evidence on the extent and benefits of co-production throughout the UK.
  • Governance International – for over 10 years specialists in co-production training, consultancy and research around the world.

Over 60 delegates from all over the UK, including members of the West Midlands Co-Production Network, spent an informative day at Birmingham University discussing the current evidence for co-production in public services and exchanging ideas on how a better business case can be constructed in the future.

The programme consisted of high-level presentations with inputs from different sectors and perspectives in the morning and open co-production workshops in the afternoon.  

Elke Loeffler highlighted that Governance International has compiled more than 50 case studies which show that co-production is already at a significant level and is making a real difference to people’s lives.

The speakers showcased the evidence for co-production from different sectors:

Lorna Brodrick from Think Big Picture captured the findings of the morning session in a creative poster.

In a very lively afternoon session based on a BarCamp format, participants voted for five workshop proposals:

  • David Taylor-Gooby: The NHS Call to Action - An opportunity for co-production?
  • Sean McDougall: Effective co-production reduces risks of over-spend and/or innovating without evidence
  • Ben Lee: Draw/write some logic models and enable people to redo this tomorrow
  • Lorna Reid, Dudley MBC: How to do co-production without involving the ‘usual suspects’? Lessons learnt so far from Dudley MBC through their ‘Making it Real in Dudley’ programme
  • Laura Brodrick, Think Big Picture: Making co-production creative?

The photographer Idriss Assoumanou from Click to Shoot provided an excellent photographic record for all conference participants to remind them of this inspiring day.

Photos by Click to Shoot. Copyright © Governance International & Click to Shoot, 2013

Building resilient communities for co-production

9th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Sandwell MBC, Sandwell
27 June 2013

It is not a coincidence that this exciting event hosted by Sandwell MBC took place at Raglan Road Christian Centre. This is where earlier this year Keith Davies, Mayor of Sandwell and Councillor Darren Cooper, Council Leader, launched a new community project - the Friends and Neighbours Scheme. At the West Midlands Co-Production Network event on 27 June participants learnt how the members of the Soho/Victoria Friends & Neighbours Community Interest Company (CIC) support vulnerable people in the neighbourhood through the development of individually-tailored 'Living Plans'. By doing so, this co-production approach complements traditional care services

Other highlights of the afternoon event included:

  • An update of the 'Time2Trade' Timebank in Sandwell
  • A presentation of the 'Communities Managing Change' project of the Chamberlain Forum by Paul Slatter
  • 'Call for Research' on what makes communities sustainable and resilient by James Duggan, Manchester Metropolitan University who coordinates the North-West Co-Production Network.

Download the full programme (pdf) and read the minutes (pdf) of the event.

From social care to wellbeing: Innovations from Warwickshire County Council and beyond

8th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Warwickshire County Council, Warwick
26 April 2013

The programme of the meeting included different co-production approaches used by Warwickshire County Council to engage customers and communities in the design and evaluation of social care and health services:

  • Featured in the Guardian: How Warwickshire County Council's dementia portal helps carers and people with dementia navigate the system. 

Further highlights were:

Peer Approaches to Learning, Innovation and Social Inclusion

7th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-production Network

Hosted by the University of Birmingham, Birmingham
29 January 2013

The University of Birmingham hosted an international learning event with a Finnish delegation from the Education Export Network in the Tampere region.

The meeting included sessions on:

Lindsay Barton of Golden Kite Solutions kindly prepared the minutes of the event. A big thanks to Lindsay for this great job!

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Ajay Khandelwal presentation

Dan Grainger presentation

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Nick Dixon Stockport presentation

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Collaborating with local communities to create a green, safe and smart City

6th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Birmingham City Council, Birmingham
10 December 2012

This workshop, hosted by Birmingham City Council, explored a range of innovative ways to harness the energy, good will and commitment of local communities to develop strong and sustainable neighbourhoods where people and businesses flourish.  

Highlights included:

An interactive ‘environmental challenge clinic’ allowed participants to share challenges they are facing in environmental services and community engagement with their peers in the West Midlands region and to explore how they might develop sustainable action plans to improve outcomes. 

Creative ways of co-producing better outcomes

5th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Insight for Carers, Dudley
28 June 2012

The EC Arts 48 Sheet project space in the Mailbox, Birmingham provided a very creative atmosphere for the meeting. We all enjoyed looking around the exhibition while networking.

The programme of the meeting included:

  • A presentation by Claire Farrell of EC Arts on the 48 Sheets project which transformed Birmingham into an urban gallery. Claire illustrated how public art can be used to change people's perceptions and experiences of place, and how the project has included the local community.
  • Gill Phillips, Nutshell Communications Ltd., talking about the Whose Shoes? tool and its ability to explore different perspectives of social care.
  • A session led by Rosie Edwards, Sandwell MBC, on how the 'Friends and Neighbours' project has been using an asset approach to empower the community to develop their own solutions and resilience. 

Becky Thompson of Walsall Council summarised the key issues of the meeting -many thanks to her! Read the minutes.

Making health and social care personal and local

4th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by EC Arts, Birmingham
26 April 2012

The meeting was hosted by Marc Carter, founder of the microenterprise Insight for Carers at their new Insight House in Dudley. We were all very impressed by the brand new venue which Marc and his team had renovated without any council funding.

The meeting included discussions and presentations by:

  • Marc Carter how on Insight for Carers provides support for carers and volunteering opportunities for vulnerable adults;
  • Simon McIntosh from Leicestershire County Council on the council’s co-production vision.
  • Laura Wilkes, Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), introducing the new book 'Making Health and Social Care Personal and Local: Moving from Mass Production to Co-Production'.

You can find further information about the meeting in the programme or read the minutes of the 5th West Midlands Co-Production Network meeting.

Making an Efficiency Case for Public Service Co-Production

3th Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Grapevine, Coventry
12 January 2012

Download the presentation by Clare Wightman on Grapevine's co-production work. Click here.

Presentation by Lorna Reid, Community Catalysts, on how enterprising people can co-produce local solutions, with a case study from Marc Carter of INSIGHT FOR CARERS. Click here.

Presentation by Catherine Needham, University of London, of her literature review on a business case for co-production. Click here.

Download the minutes of the event. A big thanks goes to Keith Morris for taking such excellent minutes.

Communities co-producing people-powered health

2nd Meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Time 2 Trade, West Bromwich
12 October 2011

  • Presentation by Dan Grainger and his time bankers how the 'Time 2 Trade' was set up and what it does for its members. Read the Governance International 'Time 2 Trade' case study.
  • Read the joint presentation by Ajay Khandelwal, NESTA, and Nick Dixon, Stockport Council on NESTA's People Powered Health project, and the Stockport pilot.

Apart from transforming mental health services Stockport Council has also co-designed the website for adult social care with people who use services. Read the Governance International case study on how the redesigned website resulted in estimated savings of about £300,000.

Read the minutes of the event.

Launch of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

First meeting of the West Midlands Co-Production Network

Hosted by Birmingham University, Birmingham
14 July 2011

The West Midlands Co-Production Network was founded by a number of co-production champions and stakeholders interested in sharing knowledge and good practice in public service co-production across the region.

Download the minutes of the launch meeting to learn how the network started.

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