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Sharing how to share power in Co-Production Week 2019

For a system to change it needs to change from within and it must involve all aspects of the system as an integral whole. In this blog, our System Change Lead Claudene Centinoglu talks about how we used Co-Production Week 2019 to demonstrate how services can be improved through meaningful partnerships with the people who use them.

We took part in the fourth annual Co-Production Week in July to promote the benefits of co-production by sharing good practice and highlighting the contribution people who use services make to improving services.

Championed nationally by the Social Care Institute of Excellence, Co-Production Week aims to demonstrate how more equal partnerships with people who use services can be achieved and we took part in a range of activities across our services to listen to more voices and hear what people think could change across Multiple and Complex Needs (MCN).

This year’s theme was ‘Sharing Power’ and we were keen to get on board with this; after all, it is only when everyone’s contribution is valued equally and power is shared that meaningful co-production can happen.

Celebrating ‘Sharing Power’ in Newcastle Gateshead

Highlights from our week of activities include:

  • Criminal justice drop-in session: we went into the community to ask people who have left prison: ‘What would your perfect release from prison into the community look like?’. This session went really well and we plan to run more to hear residents in approved premises across Newcastle and Gateshead.
  • Older women and sexual violence project: we heard more about the launch of a new project for older women affected by sexual violence and made some great connections with women’s services.
  • #seethefullpicture: our Experts by Experience are a group of people with lived experience of MCN who share their invaluable insights to help decision-makers and organisations improve their services. During Co-Production Week our experts were out and about in the city promoting membership of the network to make sure the voice of lived experience is heard loud and proud in the North East. This included organising a Human Library event in the city centre to support the national #seethefullpicture campaign on Multiple Disadvantage Day to raise awareness about the nature of multiple disadvantage and the trauma that underpins it.  Visit Multiple Disadvantage Day 2019 to read more about our involvement in this campaign.
  • Department for Work and Pensions Co-Production Action Plan: we were delighted to spend time talking with DWP about developing a training resource for their staff based on our fantastic Human Library event. Well done EBE Network! This has the potential to make a massive impact for people with MCN.

Let’s Do Co-Production, together

On the last day of the week it was time to celebrate and bring people together to help demystify co-production. We organised a day-long event called Let’s Do Co-Production giving practical examples and steps to take forward featuring:

  • speakers from organisations already implementing co-production
  • our Experts by Experience, sharing their stories and insights
  • FLNG staff, providing support and guidance throughout the day.

Here’s what our delegates discovered:

  1. Co-production doesn’t have to be complex
    Eight speakers – from organisations including Shelter, Oasis Community Housing and Mental Health Concern – shared their experience of implementing co-production and showed that it doesn’t have to be difficult.
  2. Co-production is important for equality
    Our 45 delegates heard moving testimonials from some of our Experts by Experience. They spoke with candour, providing a valuable insight into the daily challenges they face trying to navigate complicated systems that don’t accommodate their needs. It really helped people see issues with their services that they could easily overlook.
  3. There’s a business case for co-production
    Our speakers explained how co-production had reduced re-presentation rates, improved outcomes for people with MCN using their services, and reduced the threat of “burn out” for their staff. This all adds up to a strong case for involving people with lived experience in designing the systems that support them.

Delegates completed pledge cards to commit to action they’ll take in the next six months to implement co-production and system change in their organisation. They included practical steps to co-produce better and with authenticity, such as:

  • FLNG will galvanise the power of lived experience with the introduction of co-production apprenticeships in statutory services.
  • Services to discuss small incremental changes that everyone understands and has ownership of.
  • We must all remember people in whatever situations are human beings.
  • We will share power with care and responsibility.

We’ll have another Let’s Do Co-Production event in six months to revisit those pledges. You can sign up now by emailing

Phew! So, how did we do during National Co-Production Week?

Here’s our week in numbers:

  • 45 delegates at our Let’s Do Co-Production event completed pledge cards about action they’ll take to implement co-production in their organisation.
  • The national #seethefullpicture campaign reached 1.8million people on social media and generated over 3300 webpage visits.
  •  Over 100 people engaged with our Human Library event at the Grainger Market.

Why is it important to understand multiple complex needs better?

Because people experiencing multiple complex needs are often the most in need of support but the least able to access it. Barriers include ill health, low self-efficacy, lack of trust, communication difficulties, and the sheer complexity of the problems they face.

The systems we have in place – which are designed to tackle single issues such as homelessness, mental health issues or substance misuse – just aren’t set up to untangle the complex problems of people with MCN.

As a result, there is a core of highly vulnerable people, cycling through systems that aren’t designed with them in mind, trapped in trauma and hardship.

‘I was homeless and pregnant… I was angry at my situation and could be outwardly aggressive and hostile, but really, I was just scared, not wanting to engage with support as I had seen my friends lose their children to social services in the past.’ Dorothy

We believe that changing these systems is the best hope we have to improve the lives of people with MCN, and to do that, people with MCN have to be involved in changing them.

We work with people experiencing MCN every day and we offer a range of services to help you get started in working more systemically.

What we can offer you

  • Training – both free and bespoke skills development to build the capacity of your workforce across Newcastle and Gateshead. Find out more at Workforce Development.
  • Help with commissioning services using our peer researchers and strategic group.
  • Access to the latest research into systems change and our help in understanding and implementing it.
  • Acting as a critical friend by supporting your organisation’s purposeful change, underpinned by a strong evidence base, a shared voice and collaborative approach.
  • Access to our network of people with lived experience, who can inform your thinking and service design

Do you think people with MCN deserve real change, delivered by services collaboratively and with people who use those services at the heart of that change?

Want to help people leave trauma in the past and move on with their lives?

Fulfilling Lives Newcastle Gateshead are your local experts in Multiple Complex Needs, co-production and system change.

Let us help you make change happen in your organisation – please contact to discuss what this change could look like.