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Living Well Kit and Labs

David Wilcox and Drew Mackie. Draft of April 28 2015 v 1.1. Not for circulation or linking yet

We aim to develop a kit, and testbed local Labs, to blend digital technology with traditional methods for community development and Living Well: making the most of what we have; telling stories and encouraging creative conversations; building relationships through networks.

This proposal is based on explorations over the past four years of digital technology in relation to People Powered Change, opportunities for young people, later life, and Living Well in the Digital Age. It is also informed by earlier work on community engagement, local partnerships, games and simulations, social technology, and networks. References.

Our development process and kit will:

  • Crowdsource existing research, methods, examples, and build an initial network of collaborators who commit to taking ideas forward.
  • Develop with City University a natural language database people can query for stories, advice and resources, built on the University's existing system.
  • Develop a kit of innovation methods, building on work we have started with Croydon Voluntary Action ABCD projects, and other practical experience in the field.

This approach will benefit groups who may or may not work have received funding from BIG, or other funders, by promoting the ethos of convening and catalysing contained in BIG’s latest strategy. It is designed to support top-level initiatives being developed by the DCLG Grey Cells Open Policy Making Initiative, with whom we recently ran a workshop testing these ideas.
Our initial national network partner is Age Action Alliance - but our approach will be applicable through any age or locality. The focus in Croydon is on families.

The diagram shows how, in Croydon, we will use case studies drawn from local experience to describe typical individuals and families in co-design workshops together with network maps of local resources, and stories about real situations. Technology will be chosen to support individuals and families to help build local systems and relationships.


The kit

The kit will be designed so that it can be used in parts, or to create a Living Lab by combining methods. The kit development process will be open, and all materials licensed Creative Commons to encourage sharing and development through networks. The kit will include:

  • A system for adding network mapping of local assets and relationships to geographic and directory mapping. This can be used underpin processes to maximise use of resources, develop local social capital and combat loneliness.
  • Methods to link network and geographic maps to digital stories, and web sites developed with local groups - already a feature of the work in Croydon with Superhighways.
  • Recommended mobile apps and other technology to support the work of community builders and connectors.
  • Workshops kits to train community builders, and also introduce people to personal technology for living well in the digital age.

We will explore how best to link this to the natural language database of stories and advice, being developed by City University, and other resources hubs.

Development process

Our development process for the kit and pilots will take 18-24 months.

  1. Scoping and development of frameworks; network mapping of projects and resources already supported by major funders, and developing our network of supporters. We aim to build on our relationships with the ABCD network, and others engaged in community building and organising.
  2. Development of the database, curating and developing resources for the kit.
  3. Prototyping the kit in national and local workshops.
  4. Piloting these methods in Croydon, and identifying other potential pilot areas.
  5. Revision and development of the kit, promotion through networks.
  6. Development of evaluation methods for network-based innovation

Speed of development will be determined largely by the time it take to engage with key stakeholders, and then work with them in piloting and development. Funding from BIG will be particularly advantageous because as well as the financial resource we will have access to the BIG community, and BIG influence as a convenor and catalyst. We could use the BIG online community, if appropriate.


These will include:

  • a practical approach to frugal innovation nationally and locally - demonstrating the catalytic as well as funding role of BIG. Re-use of resources already funded by BIG and others.
  • a model for local living labs, with a set of materials to support that, and initial pilots
  • introduction of innovation methods to existing projects
  • bottom up contribution to the DCLG Grey Cells blueprint, and Government Open Policy Making. The model could be replicated in other programme areas.

The kit will be particularly useful for local partnerships that have bid unsuccessful for funding under programmes like Ageing Better, and now wish to explore alternative routes to innovative development. It will be relevant for any groups wishing to include digital methods in their community development work.

Leadership and costs

Work will be led by David Wilcox and Drew Mackie, together with a core group of specialists.

Provisional estimate of costs over two years is:

  • £120,000 for the two principals, specialists, workshops.
  • £15,000 expenses (mainly travel and subsistence)
  • £40,000 for admin support, design and technology.

This gives a total of £175,000. These are estimates in advance of scoping. We have made a significant unpaid commitment to exploration and development, and Croydon CVA have provide financial and other support for initial work on the pilot.

We are seeking an initial tranche of £20,000 to scope development, demonstrate the network mapping approach, build an initial network, and run demonstration simulation workshops.

livingwell/proposal.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 15:20 (external edit)