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The people at Nesta, the UK innovation charity, think that co-production is potentially transformative and its power comes from re-framing the problem and re-establishing relationships to enable more holistic and people-centred approaches. Co-production can also tackle the lack of trust between some users and professionals, a dependency culture where people look to the state to solve their problems and a culture of expertise where professionals are trained to be the sole source of solutions. At its best, co-production can build people’s capacity to live the life they want, in the community where they live.

This catalogue of co-production has been created as part of Nesta’s People Powered Health programme run with the Innovation Unit. People Powered Health is a practical innovation programme, to explore how co-production can support people living with long term conditions. We’re particularly interested in how to move co-production from the margins to the mainstream. Part of achieving that shift will involve a better understanding of what co-production can achieve and what it looks and feels like on the ground.

The catalogue, therefore, brings together some inspiring examples of collaborative public services in action, with a particular focus on health and social care. Each case study has been assessed against the Nesta and nef principles of co-production. This is done in the spirit of exploration rather than judgement – many of the case studies were never meant to represent co-production so it is no surprise they are stronger on some principles than others. The idea is to use these pioneering examples to increase our collective understanding of what co-production is and to raise our sights of what is possible.

To realise the potential of co-production we need to be able to explain it clearly and to build the evidence of what it can achieve. Our hope is that this catalogue contributes to these aims and stimulates some new ideas about how to use co-production to develop truly people powered public services.