The elephant in the room…

Carrina Gaffney, Lankelly Chase

Lankelly Chase
2 min readFeb 8, 2021


The Elephant Trails in Greater Manchester is one of our longest place-based partnerships. In the founders’ words — “we are a community of passionate people who are drawing on our life experiences to support others and address challenges in our society. We look to inspire people to come together and use their strengths and resources to make things better where we live.’’

There are currently two Elephant Trails happening in Greater Manchester: one in Bury and one in Rochdale. The network and communities that have formed and are surviving despite Covid-19 in these areas is a beautiful thing. The groups themselves are surfacing where and how they want to be together, what skills people have to offer but also what skills they would like to learn. Somehow throughout this pandemic, the Elephants Trail in Bury are learning how to become community reporters with a little help from John Domokos and the Guardian video team.

All of this started about 6 years ago and has really helped to influence the way we work at Lankelly Chase. Not only do we attempt to create the conditions for co-production to happen out in the real world, but we also model this with how we approach our own work. Collaboration has always influenced the way I work, but co-production is so much more meaningful. It feels much more mutual, at its best relationships in flow feel reciprocal and generative. It’s also really helped me let go of what I think an outcome ‘’should’’ be and instead participate much more equally in the process of co-design that pools resources, skills, insights, lived and learned knowledge. For me, it’s a more rewarding way of working (often wonder if it’s because I have to acknowledge my need for control and let go of this!) and I love how many ideas come forward that would never have emerged from my brain. But I still get to feel like I’ve contributed — in a small way!

People often ask us at LC to explain what magic sits at the heart of the Elephants process. I do my best to do it justice, but there are always bits missing. So, we decided it would be more useful to draw it instead.

There’s this guide on how the process works, accompanied by the six foundational principles for working together here.

We hope you find this useful and if you’d like to talk transformative co-production I will happily connect you with the brilliant team holding the current Elephant Trails process in Bury and Rochdale. Or head over here

I’m also really keen to know how other people use co-production and how you hold collective and participatory decision making.

Peace out people :)



Lankelly Chase

We are a charitable foundation focused on tackling severe and multiple disadvantage. We’re using this blog to share learning from our Place Action Inquiry.