Co-production during the coronavirus outbreak

Last week, Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, released a statement about the council’s approach during the coronavirus crisis.

Cllr Cowan talked about taking ‘a people first approach’ which means the council taking all the necessary actions and providing all the necessary resources to help keep people safe and able to cope during this challenging time.

Even though things feel difficult and uncertain at the moment, we remain committed to finding ways of working together with residents to help us shape our services.

Good community engagement is about better democratic participation, better services and better outcomes for communities in terms of having a greater say on local issues. Community engagement is even more important at the moment as many of us are having to work from home or self-isolate which can make it more difficult to get involved in shaping decisions that affect residents’ lives.

We want to maintain our good track record of engaging residents in developing policies and shaping services through mechanisms such as the resident-led commissions, tenant and resident associations, Ward Action Groups and the Civic Campus development Disabled residents team, as well as online platforms Nextdoor and Commonplace, and we will continue to find ways to share how we are responding to the crisis and how we are working to keep all our residents well supported and safe.

There is also now an opportunity for residents and local community groups to get involved via the H&F Community Aid Network


Making decisions with Disabled residents not for Disabled residents, to bring to life our commitment to ‘doing things with residents not too residents’” 

Co-production is about a new way of doing things together, and is about building a new partnership between the council and the wonderfully diverse community of Hammersmith & Fulham!

Residents, councillors and council officers taking a co-produced approach to policy development and the design and delivery of community support and services will help the council bring to life our commitment.

The Co-production Implementation Group line up for a group photograph
The Co-production Implementation Group with Kim Smith (far right), chief executive of H&F Council

The council’s commitment to co-producing policies and services with residents came from the recommendations set out in the Disabled People’s Commission (DPC) report published in June 2018.

Read or listen to the DPC’s report

A key and striking message that came out of the Disabled People’s Commission report is that Disabled residents are almost nowhere to be seen in making decisions about the support and services that affect their lives. So we will work with Disabled residents first to build an effective partnership for change.

When we talk about co-production we mean...

Local Disabled residents are working together with decision makers to actively identify, design, and evaluate policy decisions and service delivery that affect our lives and remove the barriers we face.”

Changing the culture

We have set out to make sure ‘nothing about Disabled people without Disabled people’ is at the heart of decision making in relation to policy and practice in this unique and diverse borough.

Co-production is just a way to bring everyone together with the same aim of removing the barriers that stop our residents from living as equal residents in our community. To create a culture across the borough where ideas and activities about how co-production can flourish.

It's about getting people to feel confident - working together and included in changing the things that matter together.

Councillor Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said:

Making decisions with Disabled residents not for Disabled residents, to bring to life our commitment to ‘doing things with residents not too residents’”

I had always thought about disability to be an issue of discrimination and rights. I understand that Disabled people need to take the lead in developing support and services to make sure that everyone can take part in society.”

We will only know it’s working when Disabled residents say that it is. We know it will be a big change for us all but everyone is excited about the real possibilities - it is not just another gimmick.

We are the first local authority in the country to commit to co-production across a whole council in this way.

Kim Smith, chief executive of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said:

Co-production must be one of our cornerstones of equality and inclusion. I'm really committed to supporting a whole new way of working with residents – one that truly respects diversity and lived experience.”

A Disabled resident said:

Co-production needs to be done across the board and, as scary as it sounds, it needs to be done in a big way.”

To help us make it happen we have set up a new group which will provide leadership to make co-production work, supporting its development cross the borough and supporting the work of the council.

Co-production Implementation Group (HFCIG)

Members of the Co-production Implementation Group at work around a meeting table
Meeting of the Co-production Implementation Group at Hammersmith Town Hall

The Hammersmith & Fulham Co-production Implementation Group was set up earlier this year and includes Disabled residents, senior council staff and councillors. They are working together on a plan to encourage and enable co-production across all council departments, and the whole community.

More information about the group

Getting co-production started...

One of the first successes has been the co-production work on the Hammersmith Civic Campus project, known before as King Street west regeneration scheme, which includes refurbishment of the town hall and the development of new housing and a cinema.

A team of Disabled residents has worked with council officers from planning, the architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Proudlock Associates, which is a Disabled person led access consultancy.  

This way of working ensured a high level of inclusive design throughout the process, something both residents and the architects have described as a pioneering way to work and not the usual way that things are done.

  • Disabled residents help identify barriers too working together and to find solutions to remove them.
  • Everyone took part in a Disability equality team building workshop.
  • Co-chair is a Disabled resident and residents are paid for their work.
  • Working together radically transformed the level of inclusive design and how the project will be delivered.
  • Residents were part of the team and not just seen as ‘service users’ - this built respectful working relationships.
  • Residents involved nearly all the way through.
  • Early practical difficulties resolved, everyone learnt, compromise.
  • Architects say this way of working has saved time and money in the long term.
  • Produced co-written report to capture and evaluate the process.

The planning application was agreed earlier this year, and Disabled residents will continue be part of the team until the work is completed.

Getting involved

Tara Flood and Kevin Caulfield have been recruited as the strategic lead officers (job share) on co-production, so please get in touch to find out more about our work and how you can get involved.

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