A special summer issue introducing the Co-production Network Director and Coordinator, and juicy updates from everyone.
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In this issue:

Sunshine, lollipops and hand-knitted bathers

Anyone out there remember the profound horrors of the hand-knitted bathing costume? I had one in beige and green stripes. No-one asked me if I wanted one in beige and green stripes - choice wasn’t a big thing in 1950s childhoods as I recall - it simply appeared one year and hung around until I thankfully grew out of it. The moment it came in contact with sand or water (rather prevalent at Barry Island as it happens) it became clammy, cold, sand-filled and itchy. The absolute antithesis of comfort, functionality and chic.

Anywayoop, yesterday I was mulling over the state of the world, as you do, and the fact that everything seems to be getting worse rather than better. Then I remembered my knitted bathers – a perfect example of things getting massively better. Which put me in mind of the SS&W Act, and the WFG Act, and the decrease in homelessness in Wales since WG decided to do something about it, and the declining use of plastic bags, and the glorious Welsh football team, and the end of right-to-buy, and the wonders of our costal path and a record number of Blue Flag awards for our beaches…

And all of you lot, the people who have inspired, supported and helped create the Co-production Network for Wales. Massively better and then some.
So this final CW Newsletter (the next issue will come from the new Network) is dedicated to you. Get out the deckchair and knotted hankie and enjoy a jamboree of ‘things that have got (and are getting) massively better’ – starting with an introduction to our new team…

Network Director Mark John-Williams

I’ve got to say that I am blown away by being offered this fantastic opportunity to work with so many people, in our mission to make co-production a way of life in Wales. I’ve been privileged to work with some brilliant people over the last 30 years and it really does feel like a natural next step, to be able to channel these experiences and relationships into this movement that you are all part of. The energy and passion within the Network is obvious, but what also runs through it, crystal clear, are the values of inclusion that gives us a great chance of enabling real change. If we truly believe that all citizens are genuine partners in creating better services and solutions and we support and empower that to happen, then there is nothing to stop us from building the inclusive communities that we all strive for.

Thanks again for giving me this chance to work with you. I’m looking forward to meeting and talking with as many of you as possible over the coming months.

Network Co-ordinator Judith Nubold

Hello! I am very happy and excited to be starting as Network Co-ordinator in September. I am absolutely committed to working together for a Wales where everyone is valued as contributor to the common good. When I first came into contact with co-production while working for Spice, it revolutionized my thinking. I am passionate about the transformative power of co-production and convinced that this approach can radically change our relationships, our economy, and our political system for the better. My academic background is in social sciences and I previously worked for Teach First and Cardiff University – all useful experiences for my new role as Network Co-ordinator. I will be primarily responsible for project administration, communications and evaluation and will be based in Cartrefi Cymru’s office in Cardiff. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The Project Steering Group

Our voluntary Steering Group are helping to get the show on the road while we set up the Members’ Forum that will eventually lead the project. This Newsletter includes updates about some of the initiatives they are involved in. Here’s the delectable line-up.

Cartrefi reps: Adrian Roper (also Wales Social Co-ops); Mandy Tilston-Viney, Mike Paramore
Co-pro Wales reps: Ben Dineen Spice Time-banks; John Hallett Cardiff West Communities First; Rick Wilson Community Lives Consortium / Wales Alliance for Citizen-Directed Support.
WCVA reps: Ruth Marks, Mandy Williams, Dewi Smith
Members: Nick Andrews Swansea University School of Social Care Research; Maria Bell North Wales Social Services Improvement Collaborative / Wales Alliance for Citizen-Directed Support; Chris Bolton Wales Audit Office / Bangor University; Julie Boothroyd Monmouthshire Council; Maria Gallagher Public Health Wales; Simon James RCT Interlink; Pam Luckock Working With Not To; Jenny O’Hara Jakeway Credu – Connecting Carers; David Pritchard WG, DHSS.

And here are some sparking updates from them - in no particular order.

Reciprocity rules: Cartrefi Cymru is becoming a mutual

We’ve decided to put our money where our mouths are and are looking at how we might become a membership organisation along co-operative lines whilst remaining a charity and a company limited by guarantee. All possible, and without too much hassle it seems. We hope to become a mutual later this year, with membership categories to include people we support, staff, and community supporters. That would just be the first, relatively small, step. The bigger task will be to develop an active membership with an offer that both attracts people and delivers benefit. We hope to link the offer to building community, with members joining because they want to engage actively in making community contributions and, in return, receiving help and recognition for doing so. The overlap here between co-operation, co-production and community development is obvious, and potentially very exciting. We are working closely with the Care to Co-operate team on this – lots of dots being joined up!

Adrian Roper, Cartrefi Cymru,

Listening and Learning - as simple as ABCD

There’s been lots of progress on working together in RCT & Cwm Taf recently, particularly with the Listening Project which has listened to the experiences of older people in the area. These stories have been turned into powerful statistical information which is being used to address loneliness and isolation through our Cwm Taf Older People's Network. Issues such as transport have been identified, but often it is the small things and thinking out of the box that makes a real difference. For example, tenants in one supported housing scheme have given local residents evening access to allow people to drop in, have a cuppa and watch TV and a charity is looking to provide peer mentoring during these evening get-togethers. We’ll be telling the Social Services and Well-being Board about these initiatives and encouraging them to support us.

We’re now going ahead with a listening project for young people in the Rhondda, and one to address mental well-being and to help us recruit Community Connectors in Porth. All of these initiatives use an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach to connecting people, reigniting enthusiasm and self-belief about what communities can achieve by working together.

Simon James, RCT Interlink,

Putting carers in the driving seat (we’re getting better)

Co-production will only become a reality for people and communities if conversations actually start with people and communities, with what’s important to them, but all too often it’s services that decide the agenda and the parameters of any consultation. Credu, Connecting Carers (formerly Powys Carers) is determined to do things differently. We’re devolving some of our resources to local communities so that carers can use those resources in ways that are useful to them, collaborating with organisations from any sector. We hope that these services will become truly democratic, within localities that make sense to people. Already, carers in Ystradgynlais have come up with fantastic ways to reach out to other carers of all ages, connecting with the wider community and brokering services. Slowly but surely we’ll spread this approach across Powys. It will doubtless be messy but we’ll learn as we go and will get better and better at co-designing and co-delivering - along with the people and communities we work with.

Putting resources in the hands of people in communities has to be the way to go!  

Jenny O’Hara Jakeway, Credu,

A time bank for Wales?

We mentioned Maria Gallagher’s brilliant suggestion for an all-Wales time bank in the last Newsletter…the plan is progressing smoothly (allowing for the fact that more or less the entire world are currently on holiday) and there’s now a planning group headed up by Andrew Jeffries from the Treasury along with Maria, Ben Dineen from Spice, and Usha Ladwa-Thomas and Diana Reynolds from WG. The plan has changed slightly in order to give us the best possible chance of success:
  • Mark Drakeford will host a ‘think’ session on time credits, alternative currencies and the core economy on 23 September for a small group of key influencers. Edgar Cahn and his partner Chris Grey will be at that event and the intention is to produce a discussion paper / proposal which will begin to clarify what’s needed to achieve our goal.
  • The conference will be in January or February to ensure that there’s plenty of time to get others involved (nef, Nesta and Geoff Thomas in particular) and for people to mull over the possibilities and challenges - both many and varied. Conversations are already afoot about community currencies such as the Bristol Pound and I’ve been having a really interesting discussion with someone on the sharp end about the danger of time credits being used in a transactional way - a tokenistic gesture towards equality. I’m learning a lot, especially about how not to do it!
  • The indefatigable Maria is also planning to organise a Time-banking Masterclass with Edgar and Chris on 22 September. We’ll keep you updated.
Maria Gallagher, PHW 1000 Lives,
Ben Dineen, Spice,

Developing Evidence-Enriched Practice (DEEP) – Swansea University on a roll!

Coming up… 
Together for better outcomes – homecare and community initiatives 20 September, Solva. 
We’ll be exploring new ways of co-designing and providing homecare services in rural communities that are integrated with community projects. Interest has been high and the event is fully subscribed.
What do we mean by well-being and how can we measure it in dementia care? November, Swansea.
This one-day event is part of the national ESRC Festival of Social Science. We’ll be looking at the concept of interdependent well-being in co-productive dementia care services that support people with dementia, family carers and frontline staff.

Research proposals…
CareLab: Towards novel ways of providing and researching care at home for citizens with dementia. This is a collaborative action research proposal, working with people with dementia to explore what independent living means from their perspective and how best to support it. Monmouthshire County Council are one of the practice partners and the research will engage with their innovative Raglan Project. Submitted to Alzheimer’s Society
Shared talk and collective action: Effective methods to promote and support participation and independent living for people with dementia in care homes. This collaborative action research proposal is intended to support the development of a bottom-up, co-productive approach to quality and improvement in dementia care services. Submitted to Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) Fund.

Nick Andrews, Wales School for Social Care Research, Swansea University,

Behaviour change, adaptive systems and radical nudges

Chris Bolton has worked for Wales Audit Office for last 15 years and is doubtless one of the reasons why the WAO is the polar opposite to the grey-suited, grey-brained bureaucracy of my imaginings.

Chris is currently on a part-time secondment at Bangor University with the Wales Centre for Behaviour Change, and the Cynefin Centre with Professor Dave Snowden (the Complex Adaptive Systems man). They are doing lots on the use of narrative as a tool to design more ethical nudges linked to ‘disposition to change’, rather than the shove approach preferred by many public services. All of which fits perfectly with the co-pro ethos. In between Chris is organising the Swansea Behavior Change Festival (19-23 September); working with the Higher Education Future Generations Group, and developing a Citizen Journalism project with the Cynefin Centre. And he blogs – beautifully – on Respect!

Chris Bolton, WAO,

Cwm Taf on the co-pro trail

New strategies for supporting older people and people with learning disabilities talk about working with people rather than ‘doing to’ – the essence of co-production and the essential requirement for effective and sustainable services. So it’s great to be able to report that Cwm Taf Public Service Board have agreed to develop a collaborative and co-productive approach to transforming community services. We are now busy on the next steps, working on the ground, listening to people and finding out what would help them live a good life. A real bonus has been having Bob Rhodes from Lives Through Friends along to help us: everyone - police, health and Council colleagues - has said Bob made them really stop and think, but also made their brains hurt! We are looking forward to a co-productive future in Cwm Taf, and it's an exciting place to be.

Thanks to everyone in the co-production movement who has made it possible for us to get to this point, with so many possibilities in front of us. It is up to us now, working together in Cwm Taf, to make it happen.

Simon James, RCT Interlink,

Youth Justice Courts (inspired by Edgar, powered by time-credits)

The glorious Edgar Cahn is our Network patron, an American civil rights lawyer and founding father of time-banking. And he came to our Network launch a couple of months ago. While he was here he met with Julie Price and Angela Devereux at Cardiff Law School to discuss the possibility of setting up a Youth Justice Court in Cardiff using the highly successful model currently operating in the USA. In essence, young people at the wrong end of the justice system are trained/recruited as peer jurors as part of their 'sentence'. Not only do re-offending rates decrease substantially, but the young people involved gain capacity, confidence and self-esteem - and an opportunity for a different future. Participation in the Youth Courts is supported by time-credits.

Given that Cardiff is in the process of setting up a city-wide time bank (supported by Spice) it’s clear that the timing couldn’t be more perfect. And what’s even more exiting is that Angela and Julie agree. And what puts the icing on the cake is the fact that Dusty Kennedy, the director of Wales’ Youth Justice Board, is a seriously good bloke and is interested in progressing this initiative. And the cherry on the icing on the cake is the fact that Spice are up for it and have already done some initial research into the what and how. It’s early days but given the splendid caliber of the potential partners I think we’re on to a ground-breaking winner!

Working with not to…

Arguably no-one’s done more to put co-pro on the map in north wales that Pam and Fran of Working with not to. Among other things, they’re organising another Dementia Care Meet-up in Llandudno on 22 – 23 November, following on from the highly successful Meet-up 1 last year. They are also planning future Asset-based Community Development training sessions with Cormac Russell, and are continuing to look at ways in which the natural environment and outdoor spaces could be used to improve health and well-being (they don’t let the grass grow this pair!). Take a look at their website for more information:

There’s (much) more to life than services! Co-pro at the Assembly

The lovely Bob Rhodes of LivesThroughFriends is working with Co-pro Wales to host a seminar for Assembly Members and advisors on 28 September. The plan is to look at how we can all benefit from the abundance of talents and resources that exist beyond Serviceland and the public purse. We’ll provide an opportunity for AMs to spend a couple of inspiring hours co-creating viable solutions with those who are working with these issues every day. Our cutting edge contributors include: All Wales People First, Community Lives Consortium, Credu (Powys Carers), 1000 Lives (Public Health Wales), Spice Timebanks and Vanguard Systems Thinking. One heck of a line-up!

Bob Rhodes, LivesThroughFriends,

And other delights...

Together Stronger Workshop - Nothing about us without us

Last month the Wales Co-operative Centre convened a workshop to discuss how third sector organisations might work together more effectively on behalf of the people and communities we represent. The starting point that led to the discussion was that many of us work on complementary initiatives, often based on similar principles. If we worked better together, rather than in competition, we could have more impact. As you would expect the workshop included several people involved in Co-Pro Wales – often wearing multiple hats.
With a new Assembly there is a chance to have a real influence on the programme of government. The Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act calls for sustainable well-being through long-term collaboration and alignment of purpose. The referendum result indicates that the country urgently needs us to co-operate more effectively to address the growing divisions in our society.
We all agreed the idea was worth pursuing. Follow our progress through updates in this newsletter and elsewhere. As our football team demonstrated, together we are definitely stronger!

Send in the Cloud!

Co-production requires co-operation, partnership and collaboration. It’s a driver for organisations and individuals to work together to create the best ‘wrap around’ service for the people we serve. Only then can citizen-focused services become a reality.

However, collaboration or even ‘keeping everyone up to speed’ is hard work, and as humans, we sometimes fail. But when the stakes are high, we can’t afford to rely solely on fallible humans. Enter cloud based technology. Whatever the service area – health, domestic abuse, anti-social behaviour, housing, social care, independence for older people – if there is a person receiving a multiplicity of inputs to support them, this technology can really help.

The housing sector, including my own organisation and Trivallis (formerly RCT Homes), is already putting this capability to great use in the case management of Anti Social Behaviour (ASB). Using a product developed by Locality Solutions, we are able to collaborate with internal and external partners. For example, when Trivallis gets a report of ASB, the case is set up on Locality. Internal staff who need to know what’s going on are involved, along with the local Community Safety Team, all contributing to an holistic solution for the victim. Trivallis has seen a 25% reduction in administration and 200% return on investment through this system and are able to provide a much better service.

This simple but effective system could also work for social care planning (the user can have access too), dealing with ‘frequent fliers’ in A&E, third sector support planning and delivery, child protection – the list is endless. The technology works online and offline, at base and out in the field with real-time updates. Transforming services means transforming systems. Our experience suggests that shared cloud-based technology could offer a real solution.

Elaine Ballard, Taff Housing Association,

Bronllys Well-Being Park

Cartrefi are members of the steering group of local citizens and workers in the Hay/Talgarth/Bronllys area which has established a Community Land Trust (CLT). The plan is to take on a long-term lease of spare grounds at Bronllys Hospital and to use it for a variety of community benefits including housing and well-being related activities. While we wait for a decision from the health board we are looking at short-term lease options such as a workshop or allotment, to get boots on the ground. We are talking to other third sector organisations about these opportunities so please get in touch if you are interested in finding out more. Lydia Powell is the inspirational (and determined) chair of the steering group – contact her at or find out more about this visionary project here:

Public Health Wales – using our assets

Last month Chrissie Pickin and her team at Public Health Wales hosted a superb Community Engagement Workshop – the start of a rethink about how PHW approaches community-led programmes of work, and, the key question, how they tackle the problem of health inequalities. It was an exhilarating session with health professionals, academics, third-sector and future generations folk all pitching in to ‘explore the ways in which a community’s knowledge and experience can be harnessed’ to improve their health and wellbeing. Sounds a bit like co-production to me! The report of the outcomes of the meeting, and the next steps, will be available shortly. Watch this space for a potential sea-change in the ways that PHW ‘support, learn from and evaluate’ this assets-based approach.

And it’s au revoir from me…

I’m stepping back from co-pro work for a while for personal reasons (but will doubtless continue to pontificate loudly from the sidelines at regular intervals). Thank you for an amazing and uplifting five years. And may the sun twinkle upon you unto the fourth generation. 

Happy hols!
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