Levels of co-production

Partnerships can reach all levels and departments within organisations and with wider stakeholders. It is important to agree with your partner what level of participation is suitable for your activity. Each level requires different responsibilities and capacities from partners.

Consider the following levels of participation and note it is not the case that partnerships should have capacity or experience to reach for the deepest levels of participation. Some community partners will have very little capacity beyond their core service and may prefer to be involved at a consultation level. If in doubt, ask your community partner.

Visit the Case Studies section to explore where science centres and community partners placed themselves with their participatory projects with community partners.

Information: the offer is decided and provided by you as the lead partner and people join to hear information.

Consultation: the community partner/participants choose from a range of options, involving listening, feedback and discussion, but broader project objectives and delivery are led by you.

Deciding together: community partners/participants support the creation and design phase, bringing new options and joint decision-making, but delivery is still led by you.

Acting together: involvement of community partner and/or participants at each stage – from the planning and design, to the delivery and evaluation – sharing decision-making and forming a partnership to carry out the programme.

Supporting independent community interest: supporting partner agency, including offered funding, advice, and support to develop the independent ideas and agendas of the community partner.

My ideal aim with my current strategic partnerships is to reach a point where either we enable their 'voice' to lead the direction of travel/ideas or to innovate together. Where we move beyond a more transactional relationship of working together to deliver what we are good at, towards innovation and making the partnership extraordinary - more than the sum of its parts.

Amanda Colborne, Participation Catalyst, We The Curious