The importance of pizza and co-production

Lucy Milich
Research Centre Manager

05 April 2018

We recently invited children and young people with experience of children’s social care to contribute to the development of the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care. This involved fifteen pizzas, ten single-use cameras and twenty young people. Why? Because we believe that in order to have a What Works Centre that works, we need to involve children, families and practitioners in the development of the centre.

On the day, we started with helping young people to feel comfortable and that each and every individual had an equal chance to contribute and share their views. We created the platform to do this by dedicating the opening session to eating together and getting to know everyone in the room. We also made sure that every time we had a question, there was a choice for young people as to how they contributed their feelings, thoughts and wishes. This included photography, art and verbal discussions. We also had a breakout room for young people that needed time out for the group, to ensure that the pastoral needs of the young people were met.

Key messages and pizza
The pizza – a seemingly small token of our appreciation for young people attending – was about much more. It was about showing the young people that we wanted to get to know them first. This was one of the key messages that the young people themselves shared on the day – get to know us – we are more than a name on a file.

Other key messages that young people shared on the day included:

  • Listen to us and let us and help us be in control of our lives
  • Be ambitious and aspirational on our behalf
  • Recognise that we build up trust and relationships with particular people – so changes matter to us
  • Be honest about what is happening, and what you can and cannot do
  • Don’t make a promise that you can’t keep
  • Don’t judge us for being in care or when we don’t succeed – we need support and encouragement
  • Give us different ways to share our views.
  • Everything the young people shared with us on the day can be found on the What Works Centre pages – you can view a short slide show of the images, or download a PDF.

What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
This was the first meeting of the children and young people’s panel with the next one being in the summer. From the start we’ve been keen to involve young people. Not just for a tick-box exercise, but full co-production, which sees people who use services centrally involved in the design, delivery and evaluation of those services and, of course, pizza.