Co-production in the Scottish Borders

Written by: Matthew Hilferty, Development Officer, the ALLIANCE

Published: 22/11/2021

people-with coproduction

Matthew discusses the ALLIANCE’s recent partnership work in the Scottish Borders and the importance of co-productive approaches.

This year’s Co-production Week kicks off this Monday 22 November and it promises to provide an amazing platform for people to share the learning from their experience of co-productive approaches.

To mark the week, Co-production Scotland have developed a new animation that explains co-production in a simple and clear way (this link will take you away from our website). They define co-production as something that ‘goes beyond participation and partnership working because it requires people to act together on an equal basis.’

Throughout 2021, I’ve been lucky enough to support the ALLIANCE’s partnership work in the Scottish Borders alongside Borders Care Voice and the local Borders Third Sector Interface (TSI).

It’s been a pleasure to work with both organisations and together we have started to uncover some important insights, which are summarised in our recent Health and Social Care in the Scottish Borders report.

This partnership work began with the co-production of two Third Sector Forums in April and July. For these, we invited partners across the third and statutory sectors in the Scottish Borders to share their views on what they saw as the key issues locally.

Following the identification of these key issues, we then discussed solutions which were prioritised following a vote.

We felt it was crucial that both the third and statutory sector were represented in these forums to promote cross-sector relationship building and collaboration.

To take this work ‘beyond partnership working,’ as Co-production Scotland would say, we intend to develop a Co-production Charter at our next Third Sector Forum. This charter will seek to solidify the progress that has been made so far at our Third Sector Forums this year. It will promote a long term closer working relationship between the third and statutory sectors in the Scottish Borders and hopefully place both on a more equal footing.

It is crucial that we start to view the third sector as an equal partner in the design and delivery of health and social care in Scotland. One of the main frustrations that has emerged from our partnership work in the Scottish Borders this year has been the Health and Social Care Partnership’s previous reluctance to routinely and meaningfully engage with the third sector. It was noted that decisions were often made without consulting or informing the third sector, particularly at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The third sector has a lot to offer. And we heard during this partnership work in the Scottish Borders that the value of the third sector is being recognised more and more by the public, as well as the statutory sector: “This improved during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the third sector’s flexibility and community base both being seen as huge assets. It was agreed that efforts should be made to build on this progress.”

The ALLIANCE will continue to champion and support the third sector as a vital strategic and delivery partner. We act as an intermediary for health and social care organisations in Scotland and regularly give third sector organisations the opportunity to feed into policymaking. Most recently, giving the third sector a platform to share their views on the Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland, the National Care Service consultation and our People at the Centre engagement programme.

The principle of co-production is at the heart of our core aims. We seek to support transformational change, towards approaches that work with individual and community assets, helping people to stay well, supporting human rights, self management, co-production and independent living.

To contribute to this year’s Co-production week, we will be hosting an online event on Zoom on Thursday 25 November. The session will provide an opportunity to explore how co-production and partnership working can achieve a shared purpose. And there’s still plenty of time to sign up so have a look here on the ALLIANCE website if you are interested.

For any other news relating to Co-production Week, keep an eye on the Co-production Scotland website (this link will take you away from our website).


Juliana Amaral, Executive Officer, The Berwickshire Association of Voluntary Services (BAVS):

“Despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, the third sector responded to the crisis and became one of the most important players in ensuring the most vulnerable in our communities were supported. Strengthening the sector through co-production and collaboration seems the most appropriate solution.”


Jenny Smith, Chief Officer, Borders Care Voice:

“It’s been a pleasure to work with the team at the ALLIANCE and a real asset to have hands on support to facilitate discussions, and to turn them into something meaningful – but also in order to hear good practice from other areas, we look forward to the next stage with enthusiasm.”

“The only thing I’d like to emphasise within the report is that third sector involvement in co-production is not an end in itself – as I see co-production as something that is fundamentally about working with people as citizens. The third sector, with its roots in local activism and the community is in turn strong at advocating for the rights of the citizens who deliver and receive its services. So, it’s a good start. The next stop is to move into genuine citizen engagement – and action – within health and social care, needed in these trying times more than ever.”

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