Search our website:

Co-production Around the World

The Co-Production Journey in Scotland

This new blog series highlights the current state of play of user and community co-production in public services. We will tell you who the movers and shakers are, identify cutting-edge innovations and showcase international best practice for your organisation to learn from. Join the debate and add your comments! This blog will be visiting your country soon...

© Nize Nicolai Schäfer

Like many other European countries, Scotland faces a significant increase in service demand during a time of demographic change and sustained decline in financial resources. In response the Scottish government has developed policies which specifically promote and fund co-production approaches in public services. 

Sir Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, has been highly influential in promoting this direction of travel through his championing of an assets-based approach to planning and delivering health and wellbeing. His vision was reinforced by the publication of the Christie Commission Report on the Future of Delivery of Public Services in June 2011. This highly influential report argues that it is ensure that our public services are built around people and communities, their needs, aspirations, capacities and skills, and work to build up their authority and resilience.

The Scottish Government has recognised this challenge and together with the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) and other stakeholders, has developed a 10 year change programme for Reshaping Care for Older People, which promotes the development of co-production and community capacity building as key elements of public service transformation. Most importantly, the Scottish Government has invested to support the transformational change required by creating a four year older people's services Change Fund of £300 million in order to drive the necessary shift in service models and organisational cultures. Government funding has also been made available to adopt co-production approaches to deal with specific issues such as teenage pregnancies (e.g. through the Family-Nurse-Partnership Programme) and the limited access for older people to healthy food and supportive social networks (e.g. through the Food Train). 

Nicola Sturgeon, then Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and Cities Strategy with a client of the FNP programme.

On an operational level, the Joint Improvement Team (JIT), which is co-sponsored by the Scottish Government, CoSLA and NHS Scotland, working in strategic partnership with the Third and Independent sectors, provides support to 32 locally based partnerships across Scotland (including NHS, council, third and independent sector organisations) to integrate co-production as an approach within health and social care. This work has been led by the two National Co-Production and Community Capacity Leads  Gerry Power and Andrew Jackson working with geographically based JIT Associates. Activity to date has included: 

  • Awareness raising activities, such as the first Co-Production and Community Capacity-Building Conference in Dunfermline in January 2011, which was attended by more than 300 participants. 
  • Providing case study evidence that co-production works including the publication with Governance International of Co-production in Health and Social Care: What it is and how to do it, and the building of management and front-line staff capacity across local councils, the NHS, independent and voluntary sectors by rolling out training based on the Governance International Co-Production Star.
  • Gathering good practice case studies from all of the 32 local partnerships in Scotland.
  • Strengthening networking and the exchange of experiences through the Scottish Co-Production Network.

The change management strategy of JIT is showing signs of success as a number of councils have already started to take action to roll out co-production across their services. For example, Midlothian Council have adopted a Council wide approach to co-production enabling all council services in the county to make effective use of the Governance International Co-Production Toolkit. In addition JIT has provided coaching to assist the implement of action plans being drawn up by participants in the co-production training sessions. This process has uncovered good examples of co-productive practice already taking place in the Council which are being used as drivers to convince more colleagues to adopt this way of working and promote culture change.

Co-production is also being rolled out in other public services in Scotland. For example, Strathclyde Police and the national Violence Reduction Unit have been leading an assets-based approach in a highly deprived area in North West Kilmarnock, which was previously characterised by high crime rates. The project uncovered enormous reserves of creativity and energy in the community, which have helped to turn around the quality of life of local people in the area. The lesson which Chief Inspector Tony Bone took away from his involvement with this project was: You don't know what you need in a community until you know what you already have.

In other organisations, however, full buy-in remains to be achieved and work continues to demonstrate the value of this approach in delivering better outcomes and/or efficiency savings. For example JIT is currently working with a number of partnerships on Contribution Analysis to develop an evidence base which can demonstrate the economic utility of co-production and community capacity building as well as their impact on personal outcomes. It is recognised that embedding co-production and community capacity building in organisations and services will require whole systems change which spans commissioning of public services through to organisational and individual performance improvement. One example of how this might be achieved in future is by recognising the capacity and capability of front-line staff to co-produce with users and communities in organisational competency and performance management frameworks. This will support the principle of co-production by emphasising it is more rewarding for the service user, the professional and the provider organisation to solve problems together and not simply do things to and for service users.

I am delighted to announce that Co-Production of Health and Wellbeing in Scotland, the second booklet on co-production and community capacity building in Scotland, produced in association with Governance International and other partners, will be launched by Mr Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, at the National Co-Production and Community Capacity-Building Conference on 20 February 2013 in Edinburgh. This publication includes updated and new chapters covering the background to co-production, case studies and good practice from within Scotland and from our learning partners in Sweden. This I hope will help to demonstrate the great strides that have already taken place in making co-production and community capacity building a key part of the strategy and the practice of public services in Scotland and encourage you further to making these approaches central to the way you plan and deliver services.



This guest blog has been written by Dr Margaret Whoriskey.

Director, Joint Improvement Team

16. August 2012


Volunteering at the Olympics

Governance International Associate John Tatam reports about his volunteering experience at the Olympics 2012 in London.

I had heard a lot about the impact of volunteers on the Olympics, particularly in Sydney, so when we won the bid I leapt at the chance to be involved at least to some extent, on the inside.

The application process was surprisingly complex and extended. Around a quarter of a million people applied; some hundred thousand plus were interviewed; and seventy thousand finally selected, which despite my feeble responses to questions like ?When have you gone the extra mile?? included me.

There were many roles available from supporting particular sports to back room jobs like media relations and driving the fleet of four hundred BMWs! As a keen cyclist I had opted for the cycling team. It turned out that over fifteen hundred volunteers were needed for the two road races (the biggest events of the games), several hundred for the time trials and the mountain biking, but just a few for the velodrome.  I got shifts on the road races and time trial.

Being a volunteer gave just a glimpse of the sheer scale of the Olympic venture: all the volunteers and fifty thousand paid staff were put through an orientation day at Wembley arena. There were thousands there on my day ? yet this was just a tenth of the total number; attending uniform measurement and distribution was also an eye opener. The lead up to the Olympics was full of the usual moans and groans about organisation from the media and elsewhere. I just thought: ?What do they know??

The orientation and the ?venue specific? training focused principally on motivation, making us feel vital to the success of the Olympics, and of course being positive with the public. Given that we were volunteers and that some of the tasks we would be given would inevitably be less than exciting I can see that setting the right mood was essential. After all we heard that lots of G4S paid staff failed to show. I would guess that the level of absenteeism among volunteers was minimal.

The men?s road race was on the first day ? and Team GB was of course fancied. We were driven out in coaches to our sectors of the route and as we passed gathering crowds (some cheering us!) town greens with big screens and picnickers already assembling, flags, bicycles hanging out of windows or on roofs, and a primary school?s witty display of wicker cyclists on bikes (some with dogs on the back) it really felt like something significant was happening. Something very unusual was stirring in Surrey.

I had a very rural sector but large numbers of people slowly gathered and the mood was fun and relaxed with  the endless succession of Police and official?s motor bikes coming through and high fiving the crowds. My particular job was ?flagging? a bridge where the road narrowed from double to single lane and bales protected the bridge parapet. Some of the crowd were open about having chosen this spot in the hope of seeing a crash. The men?s race passed through fine in a lead group of twenty odd and a peloton of about one hundred and thirty ? though, of course, passing inches from my nose. The women were less successful.

As the women?s peloton of about sixty approached at, I guess, around thirty miles an hour, I suddenly realised they were not all going to make it despite my frantic whistle blowing. I must have closed my eyes and jumped to the side before hearing the sound of cycles hitting the ground and thinking ?Oh no, not on my patch!? I opened my eyes to see four cyclists and bikes on the ground in front of me and a Brazilian ten feet down in the ditch (with one of the bales)  but already trying to clamber out. I helped her and her bike at which point the TV picked up the scene? they simply had not seen her disappear down the hole. I was then undecided whether or not I should be helping the other women sort out their bikes or maybe ringing for help. I was conscious that I was probably on TV at this point and ought to be looking decisive! (My family, who had been watching on television inevitably focused on this ?Mr Bean? moment rather than my heroic rescuing of the Brazilian cyclist.) It was all over in no time. What had felt to me like a serious incident was just a blip in their race!

On the Wednesday I was at the Time Trials and really lucky to be based right in Hampton Court. This meant I was able to see the start, the finish, the return of the cyclists, Brad?s victory lap and medal ceremony. A fantastic privilege to be there at the point where it all started to go right for Team GB!

I was also able to attend a number of events ? free and ticketed ? as a spectator. (This included standing three feet from where a Canadian cyclist took a bad cart wheeling fall in the men?s triathlon, so I am now being seen as jinxed).  Clichéd though it is, the London Olympics was a once in a lifetime experience, and I am grateful that I have had the chance to experience it, and be absorbed in it from the outside and, a little, from the inside. I now have six days of Paralympic cycling down at Brand?s Hatch.

So does this mean there will be more volunteering from me and others? That is not so clear. I got the impression that many of my cycle team colleagues were already involved in local clubs etc and the Olympics was a very high profile one off event. It is too early to tell what the long term impact might be.


Copyright © Governance International ®, 2010 - 2014. All rights reserved
privacy statement | legal disclaimer | contact us