Lois’ Week!

Co-Production and Involvement – What are they?


I hope everyone is safe and well. I am thinking a lot about co-production and involvement these last few weeks as they are so important to our work. But what are they?

Our job here at The SUN Network includes ensuring that people with lived experience of mental health and drug & alcohol addiction are having a say in the services that are delivered here in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, and two ways that we ensure that it happens are co-production (co-pro) and involvement.

There are big differences between the two and not everyone knows that.

I’ll start with involvement. Involvement is taking part in something, being involved. This can take shape in many different ways. For The SUN Network, involving people can be in the following ways:

Consultation – We ask you how you feel about a current situation or any proposed changes to that situation. For example, changing the way a service operates.

Evaluations – Evaluating a service based on The SUN Network Five Values which are Five Values chosen by those with lived experience. Empathy, Inclusion, Personalisation, Working Together and Honesty.

Feedback – letting us know what you think of a service or any experiences of trying to access a service, or offering feedback on a specific subject like the Keep Your Head website (you can offer feedback on Keep Your Head here and attend a workshop on the 26th August to discuss your thoughts with the website designer)

Reviewing – This could be documents, proposed services, websites, leaflets, anything and everything that needs an eye cast over it to check for jargon and acronyms and clear concise communication

Workshops – attending workshops to discuss plans, ideas, and work projects about anything from your ideas, to our ideas, to ideas already out there. For example, we co-produced our new branding in 2018 and ran workshops to discuss this.

Tender Panels – Posing questions for services when a service contract is up for renewal or a people are bidding to run a new service. Then scoring the responses to help the commissioner decide who should run the new service.

Interview panels – Forming part of a Lived Experience interview panel for mental health or drug and alcohol positions, to ensure that the right person is employed.

Vlogging/Blogging and Telling your Story – Sharing your thoughts or telling your story to help educate others around how it feels for you living with mental health challenges or an addiction.

Training – Co-delivering training to services, public and those with lived experience, or even attending training here at The SUN Network to help you get involved with other opportunities.

Meetings – The SUN Network sit on most of the mental health and drug and alcohol strategic boards and you could too. We love for people to participate in these boards and learn more about how the mental health and drug and alcohol system works – how decisions are made.

The list goes on and on, you can be involved as much or as little as you like. A one off thing or an ongoing involvement. Either way we love to see people with lived experience shaping and influences services.


Co-pro varies from Involvement in that true co-pro means that you are involved right from the very start and are an integral part of the project or piece of work in its entirety, encompassing all the above and more, helping make key decisions. The power is shared out around the table, everyone’s input is valued, you all have an equal say and are not there as a tick box exercise or an after-thought. Working with the services and commissioners to design, shape and develop services, then review and evaluate them once they have been up and running for a while.

Here in Cambs and Peterborough we are really lucky to have some amazing services and commissioners that work together with The SUN Network (Collaboration) to enable you to have your say (Involvement Opportunities) or Co-produce or Co-Create (another word for co-produce) There are huge advantages to service providers, commissioners and those with lived experience for being involved. We will go into that in more depth in our Co-Pro strategy below.

The SUN Network team are currently working on our Involvement and Co-pro strategy and would love to invite you to work together co-producing this piece of work. It is right at the idea stage so now is the time to come on board.

If you are interested in any of the involvement or co-pro opportunities in this blog or would like to have a chat and hear more (no pressure or commitment required) please contact enquiries@sunnetwork.org.uk or text/whatsapp or ring 07712 358 172 or Facebook or Tweet us @SUNnetworkcambs

Have a fantastic week.


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