Co-production in action – TLAP’s work with Nottinghamshire County Council

I joined TLAP in the middle of the pandemic at a time when many felt disconnected from colleagues, so it’s great to feature peer support and building connections across groups who co-produce in Nottinghamshire County Council as one of my TLAP highlights so far.

Co-production Week is a chance to celebrate and champion co-production so also feels like a good time to reflect on work with Nottinghamshire County Council, hearing from people with lived experience involved on the difference they think a co-produced approach is making and how the partnership is going so far.

The National Co-production Advisory Group (NCAG) a group of people with lived experience who guide TLAP’s work, and Our Voice, also a group of people with lived experiences who guide and support the council’s work, began working together in Feb 2022 to support staff and local people to build on great co-production projects and grow more co-production across the Council through running events, training and developing partnerships with the voluntary sector.

Nottingham County Council knew they had some of the ingredients in place for co-production to grow with Director support, a committed group of carers and people with lived experience (Our Voice) and a new Co-production plan. “There were lots of ideas and commitment but at times things were starting to feel enormous and overwhelming!”

I hear this a lot from staff in local authorities who are tasked with co-production, even with buy-in at a senior level, the reality of making co-production happen meaningfully and at all levels in the organisation can sometimes feel like a lonely place to be.  

Part of TLAP’s role is offering informal peer support and mentoring- staff getting support to test out ideas, share honest challenges and barriers and be listened to non- judgementally. The work also offers space for NCAG members and Our Voice to share ideas and challenges, discuss overcoming barriers to co-production and examples of similar work in other councils that went well and why.

“Working with TLAP and NCAG has been great, their support has allowed Our Voice and me to bounce ideas around and shape some really practical next steps as well as feel connected to a much bigger support network who are all willing to share ideas. I can already see the difference TLAP’s involvement has made with Making it Real now sitting at the heart of what will be our new quality framework” (Sarah Craggs, Notts Co-production Team)

Our Voice used their lived experience of drawing on care and support to co-design a strategy on how to grow co-production in Nottinghamshire with an action plan to help implement this and move towards more co production being done across the council. This year they also co-designed a handbook to help staff learn about co-production and a webpage with stories from projects happening with local people at the heart.  Co-production: working together | Nottinghamshire County Council.

They have also helped ensure carers were involved in co-designing the carers strategy and development of a new carers space - more about this is here:

TLAP/ NCAG and Our Voice are planning a workshop for corporate staff on co-production in July; helping everyone get onboard to support co production to grow rather than unknowingly getting in the way.

“Co-production in Nottinghamshire has come a very long way in the last few years, increased and improved thanks to the involvement and guidance from TLAP which I greatly appreciate. I attended a session today about the new co-produced Disability Related Expenses guidance which has been reworked here in Notts in a Co-Pro way. Its good stuff. I was hoping front line staff might ask a few more questions but am hoping TLAP will help us all learn how else to get good 2-way conversation going in training sessions” Dean, Our Voice Member

“We’ve had some very useful and interesting training from NCAG and TLAP showing us the most effective ways to help staff to understand co-production and it’s importance. This will be of great benefit to us as we continue to promote a culture of co-production within adult social care in Nottinghamshire”.  Alyson, Our Voice Member

It’s a good example of being honest about challenges and positively learning together.

Sarah says. “My biggest piece of learning has been communicate, communicate and discuss next after every bit of work. I would describe your support as challenging and reassuring all at the same time! Has made me appreciate what has been achieved (which I wasn’t) and reflect on what we need to do better”


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