3. Get ready, get set

3.1  Opportunity knocks?

a) Making the first move

You might want to be involved in co-production but where do opportunities come from? If you are an individual disabled person, a good place to start is by joining a Disabled People's Organisation (DPO). You might find out about opportunities through the DPO you join.

If you work for a DPO, what changes do your organisation and its members want to see? Who does that mean your co-production partners would need to be? Do they know about your organisation? What sort of relationship do you already have with them?

Opportunities will usually be initiated by potential partners who need to develop something. They might invite you to join a project group or a steering group, for example. Obviously, if they've never heard of your organisation they won't know to approach you. They won't know about what your organisation does or what it is interested in. If they do know your organisation but relations have been difficult, they might think you wouldn't want to work with them as partners. Therefore, although working in co-production can be a good way to strengthen relationships, it helps if there is already some kind of relationship in place.

Of course, there is nothing to stop you trying to make opportunities happen rather than wait for others to approach you. For example, if your organisation is interested in getting a particular thing changed, you could invite officials working in that area to meet with you. Then you could ask them if they know about co-production and if you might work together as partners. This might be more likely to be successful if it is about a local issue.

Another possibility to think about is that some public appointments can be opportunities for co-production, or to work in a similar sort of way. For example, you might be appointed to be a member of a government advisory committee.

b) What questions could you ask?

If your organisation is approached to become a co-production partner, you might need to get some more information about the opportunity before you can decide whether to take it up.

For example, you could ask:

  • What exactly do they want to coproduce?
  • How much opportunity is there going to be for you to influence what happens?
  • What sort of result do they want to see?
  • When will the process start?
  • How much time is it expected to take?
  • What are they expecting you to do?
  • What can they do to meet your access needs and enable you to participate?