Shaping the Coalition

Sketching co-production: snapshot of responses to the drawing exercise

Despite cold wet weather, on 29th January 2019 three dozen people made their way to the Anthony Burgess Institute in Central Manchester for the first of Jam and Justice's events to build capacity to #CoproduceGM. Attendees were drawn from within and beyond Jam and Justice's networks, including academics, policy-makers public servants, charity workers, community group leaders and peer researchers. Many of those in the room were people who’d already engaged with some aspect of Jam and Justice’s action research. But we also welcomed new faces keen to join the groundswell of co-production afficionados, critics, practitioners and analysts.

The event followed months of thoughtful preparation. The design of the day was shaped by the people attending, following a crowdsourced poll asking what people wanted to learn and what they wanted to share. There was a buzz of anticipation as people seated themselves, ready to see, hear and do some coalition-forging.

The opening session was partly about exchanging experiences. Inspired by a drawing exercise, groups crystallised 40 minutes’ discussion into expressions summing up co-production. These ranged from

“You’ve got to break your eggs to make an omelette, and be open to adding unexpected ingredients”


“what matters is the freedom to decide and the agency to implement”.

Later, participants voted with their feet, positioning themselves by prompt cards to help discern possible points of common interest. Preparing for this exercise one person called for “professional development without the professional”, another for the preservation of “parameter-free spaces”.

By the end of the event, there was a sense of creative dissent, and perhaps a healthy uncertainty. Sharing power is hard. We have to step carefully to check what we’re doing and how we’re going about it. We meet again in March, and aim by July to issue calls for action to #CoproduceGM.

New: This short film produced by Alice Toomer - McAlpine illustrates what happened as Jam and Justice set out to shape a coalition for change: