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Community work and participative working have established principles, practice and literature. There is experience of practice across many contexts and peoples. This paper is a brief introduction to the possibilities offered by participative working with pointers to some of the ways health practitioners and policy makers can explore models of working collaboratively with mothers and their families. The key theme is that by learning the key principles and dynamics of participative working, provider organisations can learn to respond appropriately to service user activity and groups. In doing so, professionals and maternity services can build a more participative, responsive, compassionate and effective service in partnership with their users.