CAG Consultants recently facilitated a co-creation process to inform South East Water’s Vulnerability Strategy.

South East Water has produced a vulnerability strategy as part of their 2020 to 2025 Business Plan, which has recently been published. The strategy is intended to ensure that South East Water’s customers who are in vulnerable circumstances have full access to their services both now and in to the future.

CAG Consultants were contracted in January 2018 to facilitate the co-creation process, which coordinated the opinions of multiple stakeholders to inform the strategy.

What is co-creation?

Co-creation is a form of open policy or strategy development where those implicated by the outcome are directly involved in its creation. It draws on a range of perspectives of key stakeholders in order to inform the process, and ultimately design and create the ‘product’ (in this case the vulnerability strategy). It focusses on customer experience and interactive relationships and allows for a more active involvement of key stakeholders, with a view to reaching a mutually valued outcome. Co-creation blends the ideas of key stakeholders (both end users of the product and other relevant parties) to create new ideas for the organisation, exploring both the existing challenges and the potential solutions.

The co-creation approach will ensure that the actions listed in the vulnerability strategy are targeted, effective and realistic. Furthermore, this approach means that the correct processes and relationships are in place to continuously review the strategy and ensure it remains fit for purpose for future customers who may find themselves in vulnerable circumstances.

How we delivered the project

CAG Consultants undertook a qualitative and multi-faceted approach involving:

  • Data gathering, including focus groups with South East Water’s Customer Care Team (CCT) staff, phone interviews and face-to-face interviews with customers in vulnerable circumstances, and phone interviews with stakeholder agencies that work with people in vulnerable circumstances;
  • An initial set of stakeholder workshops with representatives of third-party stakeholder agencies that work with people in vulnerable circumstances;
  • Further data gathering involving a stakeholder mapping exercise plus further phone and face-to-face interviews with customers in vulnerable circumstances who were affected by a water outage in early March 2018;
  • Drafting a set of recommendations and collating South East Water’s responses to them; and
  • Further data gathering and testing of these recommendations through a second set of stakeholder workshops and a follow up focus group with Customer Care Team staff.

In addition to this we worked closely with key senior staff at South East Water and the Customer Challenge Group in order to ensure that the final product is credible and fit for purpose.

Through a combination of telephone interviews, face to face interviews, focus groups and workshops, we worked with the stakeholders to gain a better understanding of:

  • The meaning of vulnerability and how it affects peoples’ lives in relation to water;
  • What is working well in relation to South East Water current services and what areas could be improved;
  • The key issues in terms of providing water services to vulnerable people; and
  • Potential solutions to best serve the needs of customers in vulnerable circumstances, now and into the future.

Outcomes of the project

As a result of this work we created a set of recommendations for the vulnerability strategy, which are based on the actual needs of the customers and effective, plausible solutions. By choosing to employ co-creation to inform their vulnerability strategy, South East Water was able to produce a meaningful strategy that will deliver the right services to the right customers at the right time, both now and in to the future.

The vulnerability strategy will be issued to involved stakeholders in December 2018, with full publication in March 2019.  A copy of our report, can be viewed here.

For more information on this work please contact Anna Bullen on

Oct 05, 2018