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Co-production Week 2021

Head of strategic engagement Morwenna discusses co-producing in a pandemic and the challenge of sticking to your values in a crisis

Co-producing in a pandemic

The challenge of sticking to your values in a crisis

7/8/2021 12:00:00 PM

A year ago we began our journey with the National Advisory Forum, a group of people with lived and learned experience who provide expert advice, support and challenge to our work and how we achieve our objectives.

At this time, many other events were occurring both within the social work sector and across the world. Yet, in a time of emergency and chaos, we managed to keep pushing forward with co-production, continuing to involve those impacted by our work as a specialist regulator.

National Co-production Week offers us the perfect opportunity to celebrate and reflect. Over the last 12 months we have co-produced over 50 pieces of work in partnership with the National Advisory Forum ranging from reviewing policies and guidance to designing and delivering events and training. Two of the most significant activities have been the co-production of Social Work Week and the involvement in our decision review group.

Co-producing Social Work Week, our biggest conversation with the sector to date, was key to its success. This event would not have been the same without the involvement of the National Advisory Forum. They had a vision for it beyond our own and had a huge influence on the tone of the event, all whilst ensuring that we remained focused on our aims and objectives.

Our monthly decision review group brings together internal and external members to consider a selection of fitness to practise cases and review the decision made and the process applied.

Sarah Blackmore, Executive Director of Strategy, Policy and Engagement said:

“The National Advisory Forum members have brought a different and unique perspective to the decision review group, and have very much kept the group focused on the person with lived experience in the fitness to practise process, and what it is like for them. It has really brought home to other members of the group the reality of fitness to practise and what it really means and achieves when done properly. Members have never been afraid to voice their opinions, which is not always easy in a large group and fairly formal meeting, and challenge appropriately where necessary.”

Collaboration has always been at the heart of what we do at Social Work England and we believe we can go further yet. It still holds true that if we design our work without including those it most affects, we are in danger of making false assumptions, subsequently failing to capture the nuance of real life experiences.

During testing times, we have forged ahead with our commitment to co-production and ensured great results. We want to see it woven through our culture and all our work. We want to continue to learn from those people with lived and learned experience, to listen, understand, and ask ourselves the question - what or who are we missing?

For this reason, we are prioritising our engagement with student social workers and children and young people over the next year. We know we can’t sit and wait for things to change. Maintaining this level of meaningful participation takes hard work and commitment from across the organisation, and the result is thoroughly rewarding.

National Advisory Forum member, Anne-Marie Glover said:

“It has felt really meaningful and participation has been valued at all stages. The values of engagement and participation has exuded from staff across the organisation, whoever that has been. Social Work England has really got that bit right.”


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