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Shared Space

Coproduction is a buzz word. It gets used a lot. And it gets used to describe a lot of things.

We always start by thinking about power and control. I guess that's because we are used to not having either, despite being told we have been given them.

So, for us, coproduction is not a new type of engagement or involvement. Engagement and involvement always rely on someone else saying you can get involved. Usually the "someone else" is your service provider, local authority or government. As long as someone has the power to choose to involve you, they can choose to stop involving you as well. Same goes for empowerment, engagement and all these other buzz words for shifting how things work between the powerful and less powerful.

The hard reality is that the "someone else" really does hold the power and control. They have the money, the influence, the professional training, sometimes even the democratic right if they were elected. As long as "someone else" holds power and control, engagement and involvement are hugely important for improving the quality of services, policies and planning.

The problem for us comes when "someone else" holds the power but believes (or pretends) that we are all working as equals and we are coproducing.

We came up with a way of trying to explain the difference between involvement and coproduction. We call it "My space, Your spaceShared space". The idea was sparked by a chance comment from Professor Catherine Robinson 18 months ago when we were trying to work out why we couldn't communicate how our vision of "team research" was different from the teams in most inclusive research.

Over the 18 months, the seed of an idea has grown into something we are ready to put out there as our contribution to the debate on the future relationship of public services and public.

Do watch the PowerPoint show, and let us know what you think.

If it makes sense but leaves you wondering how to do it, you are welcome to talk to us about workshops, consultancy and action learning sets.

If you think it's a load of cobblers as a concept or completely impractical as a practice, we'd love to hear why. We love critical friends who help refine and challenge our thinking.

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Barod formally started on 31st January 2013. We started trading June 2013.

This year we celebrate five years of existing.

That may not sound a huge achievement. But it is. We were trying to do something rarely attempted, and never before achieved: a cooperative of equals, all deciding that we wanted to come together as a cooperative, all earning equal pay, all with an equal say in running the company, all colleagues with the same status, despite living in a society that assumes people with and without learning disabilities are not equal.

To everyone who said the idea of Barod was unrealistic or impossible - Hello! We found a way to make it happen. And five years later we are still here to tell the tale.   To the person in the job centre who said 'starting a business isn't for people like you' - we think you'll find we've proved that it is. 
For five years, we have worked together. We have proved we were all ready to work, ready to run a business together and ready …