Coproduction Garden Conference

Coproduction Garden Conference

On Thursday we had our Coproduction Garden Conference at the Creative Space Centre in Preston! No idea is too big or small when it comes to coproduction, and this conference was all about helping people to understand how they can plant seeds and bring their ideas to life.

Over 50 people from Manchester, the North East, Blackburn and Birmingham came together to take part in our workshops and learn how to make their ideas grow. Our Marketing Team created a beanstalk artboard, ready to be labelled with everyone’s ideas. We opened with a welcome from Service Director Sam Priestley. “The beanstalk represents the endless growth within coproduction,” said Sam. “It is never a finished process.”

Zoe, who helps run the Creative Together coproduction centre in Manchester, spoke about their journey with coproduction and how it led to some amazing creations, including their textile cushions with art prints made by members. “Coproduction has been a long journey for us,” she explained. “It’s about organically growing together, and it’s not something you can force. It cannot be rushed – it’s a process.” Zoe also explained the importance of encouraging people to think outside the box and come up with new ideas. “How can people be what they cannot see? We love to watch short films which spark discussions about where people want to go and what they want to do.”

Ollie, Information and Quality Officer, explained the number of coproduced roles within Creative Support to encourage involvement at every level, from recruitment events to becoming a member of our Board. “Without that element of coproduction we cannot move forward,” explained Ollie. Ollie was joined by Chris who we support in Manchester, who is joining our Board. “I’d like to work with Creative Support and progress with you, and see how as time passes we can get more people involved,” said Chris.

We also heard from John, who volunteers at Head Office every Friday. “It’s great to get more people volunteering at Head Office and more people coming,” said John.

After a buffet lunch, it was time for our workshops. There were opportunities to discuss holding your own fundraising events, share where you would like our national coproduction centres to be, create artwork, write your own poetry and much more.

We had some great ideas throughout the day, including Cassie from the North East who shared her passion for wildlife conservation. Cassie collects bags of rubbish to protect the wildlife, and wants to spread the message and get more people involved. “It would be nice to have different areas that can help. I want everyone to do their part- every bag I remove could save 10 animals.”

Michael in Blackburn shared that he would like a creative writing and poetry group that could be linked with services across the country. “Challenging cultural norms is a massive part of creating change,” he said.

Ann-Marie from Stockton would like more national anti-bullying campaigns, after she went viral for sharing her experience when taking public transport. “I want to reduce hate crime in my area, especially for elderly people.”

Matt, Registered Manager in Leeds, went camping with 14 people he supports after they expressed it was something they would like to do. They went hiking, roasted marshmallows and even did karaoke! “Tell us your ideas and we will water them,” he said.

To close the day, we explained our Creative Voices forum, where you can have your say in the running of Creative Support. “This is a really important forum where we want to give you a voice and participate in our engagement opportunities,” said Sam. “You can also become a shareholder and vote in our upcoming AGM.”

“It’s been a great day,” said Cassie. “We’ve never known what happens in the background, and it’s been good to get our ideas out there, meet new friends and make people aware of different issues.”

To join Creative Voices or find out about our coproduction opportunities, please email