Welcome to the world of co-production. There are a number of rules which you may wish to observe during your time with us on this journey. They are a set of laws, dictums and lessons – somewhere to start, a framework to follow, and things to avoid.
Co-production rule #1
…starts on time.
You will find yourself sitting on a plastic chair in a cold community centre at 6.49pm, there won’t be any decent coffee for several kilometres, and you will be waiting for someone to turn up and wondering whether you got the date, the location or the time wrong.
Be patient. Take something to read, as the mobile phone signal may not be what you’re used to, and the caretaker won’t know the WiFi password.
Be patient. People have lives. Cars don’t always start. Pets get ill. People forget. We are all human. You are (hopefully) being paid to be there, the community are there voluntarily. They are giving up their time because they’re interested in participating.
And as corollary to the first rule…
Everything will take longer than you think.
If your project’s funding only lasts three months, the work will last four. If you can only commit two days a week, the project will need three. These are immutable facts. You will inevitably work some days for free, and longer than you, or your organisation had planned. Co-production is not a 9am to 5pm, office-hours-only career choice.
If you acknowledge the first rule and its corollary, and accept that time on any co-production project is liable to be elastic, then you are half-way to becoming an excellent co-production facilitator. Did I mention being patient?