- Marnie Freeman
Creating a more connected Camden
We’ve just completed an 8 week co-design project, with the Inclusive Innovation Network in Camden. The project was about putting things in place to help make the connection between those who live in Camden and work in Camden feel more human. With a diverse and interdepartmental team, we explored the ways in which frontline staff and resident employees could listen, understand and draw on their experiences and creativity to generate possible futures. Much of the focus was on individuals who may not usually be able to consult with us and include BAME residents as well as understanding the changes since COVID-19 on housing estates.
What a fantastic project. Among frontline staff who are residents, there was an appetite to surface important issues using a listening and feedback mindset, using participatory design methods. This shows there is inspiration and motivation among staff in how they engage with residents. Residents were also happy to participate, offering ideas and feedback. Social innovation is welcome and residents want to be part of changes and solutions that increase positive interactions and dilute challenging situations.
We landed on 2 fantastic ideas, both working at that essential interface between residents and frontline workers. One was exploring how the staff could be more present on estates, so that residents and staff felt more connected. The idea included having a van where the frontline staff would be and residents could come and find them, to get help and advice. This means staff would work together, and be seen, and residents would be heard. The other idea focused on helping residents with repairs and looking after their homes. It would start a booklet about what they can do and how to do it, and migrate into an app. It would also include videos with the repairs team showing simple maintenance tips. This would help residents look after their properties and prevent things going wrong, reducing current frustrations and disconnection with their ‘place’.
The project was simple, replicable and scalable. Other boroughs and community organisations can quick-start projects like this. We’d love to help.
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