The third annual National Co-production Week, being run by the Social Care Institute for Excellence is being held this week (2-6 July 2018). This year’s focus – Breaking down the barriers to co-production – is something that our co-production work at A Better Start Southend is always looking to address.

Parent involvement is an integral part of all co-production work undertaken by A Better Start Southend and supported by SAVS, who are running our Co-production project. This can be through anything from the Parent Engagement Fund to our ‘Parent Approved Marketing’ process.

One of the most important parts of co-production work, highly important in breaking down the barriers to co-production, is parent input into the ABSS Partnership Board meetings and the Service Design process. Parent Champions, who are trained representatives of parents in their area, are represented in all Partnership Board meetings as well as every meeting around Service Design (including the Task and Finish groups to outline projects’ design). Our Governance Structure ensures that parents are involved at every stage of the governance process.

Parent Champion Zoe tells of her role in the Partnership Board: “I am involved with the Partnership Board and take things to it that come out of Kursaal parents’ ideas as well as feeding back what’s been going on in Kursaal area. I love being a part of co-production as I get to know what’s going on my hometown and offer the professionals a parent’s voice.”

We are always looking to remove barriers to co-production. This includes ensuring the language used for discussion where parents are involved is accessible and jargon-free as well as holding pre-meetings with the parents prior to meetings to give parents a good understanding of what to expect in the meetings and alleviate any possible nerves.

To make sure childcare issues are not a barrier, every meeting where a parent is involved is provided with a crèche. Meetings are also at a suitable time (between 9.30am-2.30pm) to allow for the attendance of parents with older children, who need to do the ‘school run’.

Alison Griffin, Chief Executive at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “Across Southend, public sector agencies are committed to designing and delivering services alongside members of the community who use them. We see this as central to providing effective and efficient support, which best meets the needs of the community we are serving. We are always pleased to work with A Better Start Southend to look at ways in which we can use co-production techniques and we value greatly the opportunities we have to work alongside parents in workshops and activities when designing services. We are proud that Southend is leading the way in the important area of work.”

Hearing parents share their stories is very powerful, and many professionals benefit from this. As an organisation wedded to the idea of co-production, we have parents in mind in all that we do and if you have any suggestions please email


Useful links:

National Co-production Advisory Group: Top 10 tips for Co-production

Social Care Institute for Excellence: Co-production

Social Care Institute for Excellence: Defining Co-production

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