This group of projects has been funded by the council where it has been required. The aim was to prototype different approaches and review whether each project had the potential to be sustained as a community led venture. For the council to financially sustain community led projects in the long term is neither appropriate or viable. Aside from the financial support, there has also been the time invested from volunteers who have brought with them their expertise and personal commitment. The support required from the council and other organisations for example High Trees Community Trust and Lambeth Living has ranged from a sympathetic ear to practical support. Some projects have required more support than others to explain processes, navigate communication channels and clear blockages. Where another organisation has been the lead such as High Trees Community Trust, they have taken on this responsibility. Further consideration is required to review the available mechanisms and resources to support community led projects at start up through to developing into a sustainable enterprise.
Lambeth Council has been successful in securing support from the Design Council through its Public Sector by Design programme in relation to community led commissioning. We are now working with the Design Council to look at innovative and design-led solutions in both Tulse Hill and Herne Hill; the areas were chosen as they presented particular challenges and opportunities.
The Design Council held a kick-off workshop which took place in early February, attended by both internal and external stakeholders to start to co-design a long list of projects. A second workshop in late February (which I was unable to attend) generated 96 potential projects; these will be filtered down to a manageable number and considered for delivery.
The kick-off workshop was really exciting, engaging and certainly enjoyable. The focus was on using design-led approaches to look at problems and potential solutions. As part of the process, we carried out an observation exercise to understand people’s needs by spending time with them. For example, for our group we were given £5 to use on a service, which in our case was to buy some produce from the local fruit and veg stall/shop. One of the other groups had £5 to spend at the bookies! All the groups then mapped their experience, recording both ‘magic’ and ‘miserable’ moments, so customer journey mapping in effect.
The Design Council approach to observation is to ensure ‘that before you create something, you understand the people who are going to use it. Otherwise you may end up creating something that seems like a good idea on paper, but doesn’t work for the people who are going to use it’. So the message here is connect design thinking to projects and design techniques can help frame a problem in a different way.