With confidence in the British Political system in decline, it is more important than ever that the top-down approach to decision-making and service strategy in public services is challenged. In this chapter, we examine how coproduction of services can be achieved using Get Talking, an approach to participatory action research that utilizes creative consultation techniques to engage with publics. We explain how the approach enabled Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to involve young people in the development of a Children and Young People’s Strategy. The case study approach, building on qualitative methods including focus groups and semi-structured interviews, demonstrates how creative approaches were used by public sector staff to engage young people and partners in strategy development. Creative consultation techniques were used to facilitate the focus group activity. While using Get Talking as an approach to policy development required a resource investment in terms of staff time, it provided SFRS with insight into the needs of service users. This resulted in a more relevant strategy being developed and a cultural shift in how the organization works with young people. Engagement with the Get Talking process had a positive effect on staff, providing them with a sense of ownership over the resulting strategy, enhanced the reputation of SFRS with partners, and improved relationships with young people through demonstrating that they were valued partners in coproduction. While the approach was well received by all parties, challenges of using Get Talking in a public service setting resulted in pragmatic adaptations to a traditional PAR approach.
We would like to thank staff and managers at SFRS for their commitment to reflection and learning throughout this research and their ongoing use of Get Talking to work with young people across Staffordshire. We would also like to express our sincerest gratitude to Margaret Stout for her crucial guidance and encouragement in helping us to write this chapter.
Gratton, N. and Beddows, R. (2018), "Get Talking: Managing to Achieve More through Creative Consultation", From Austerity to Abundance? (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 6), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 141-160. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2045-794420180000006007Download as .RIS
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