Young People and Co-Production: Exchanging Knowledge, Reflecting on Practice

What happens when practitioners and researchers who share an interest in co-producing with children and young people come together to reflect on practice, passions, and what might be done together?

There are many projects happening in Greater Manchester, organised by charities and cultural organisations, academics and businesses, which support co-production with young people. The intensity of this work often means that time for reflection and peer learning is scarce. Last year, a chance conversation between Jam & Justice’s Beth Perry and Kate Pahl, a fellow academic based at Manchester Metropolitan University, prompted them to create a space for different groups and individuals to come together to find out more about each other's work.

In June 2018 a group of academic researchers from Sheffield and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), and representatives from the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO) and the Children’s Society met to introduce each other and share some sandwiches and ideas. A second meeting was then organised by GMCVO in September 2018, which provided an opportunity to find out more about GMCVO’s Talent Match programme. Here we were joined by people from Manchester Museum, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Greater Manchester Youth Network.

On 11th January, the group met for a third time, with the intention of sharing practices, networks and ideas. The range of participants again expanded, with people from Barnados, Blaze, Reclaim, and the Canal & Rivers Trust. MMU provided a venue, stepping in when the Children’s Society’s office relocation prevented them co-hosting. The session was lightly structured, with facilitation shared between Beth, Kate, and Jo Hunt, GM Area Manager for the Children’s Society.

We exchanged a variety of lessons learned, as those present shared reflections on their experience of and interests in co-production with young people.

What next?

As an informal network, we continue to discern our core purpose and priorities. It was suggested we represent an emergent community of practice, with a long history and experience in youth participation. How co-production fits within these wider debates is a critical issue. We will continue to share our knowledge and expertise, and now plan to gather again in early May, hosted by Manchester Museum.

Others are welcome to join our conversation and help shape what the group becomes. The group is not owned or held by any single person or organisation. But if you'd like to be put in touch with the group, or find out more about Jam and Justice's work, you can contact Beth Perry.

Find out more about our Young People Missing From Decisions project here.