We first launched this around a year ago on social media, as part of our ‘Designing our Communities’ programme. During this time we also started the BIDs Belgium (Business Improvement Districts) project. This we are happy to say, has become our ‘sister’ organisation and now formally set up as a non-profit company.
Over the year, we have been looking at how can we can use some design-led innovation and design thinking, to deal with some of the societal issues we face in our communities? Understanding how Cities and Communities can benefit from this approach. Absorbing some of the best practices from other countries and the inspiring examples we came across during a variety of EU conferences. From Design For Europe conference that we attended in Tallinn, Estonia, in Autumn 2016. Along with the impact of Social Innovation at the EU Social Innovate conference, as mentioned in our previous post.
One of the challenges we set ourselves, was looking at a variety of issues linked to Mental Health and well-being, from the young to old and the vulnerable across our communities. Looking at examples from the Netherlands and Scotland, where cities like Eindhoven, which has an unusually high number of Autistic individuals, are valued members of their communities and the workforce with being employed by companies like Philips. Looking at the role creativity has to play, with combining ‘Dancing with Dementia’, as a project between Edinburgh University and a passionate dance teacher, who teaches elderly people with Dementia in an elderly home, which not only gives an element of fun, but also trains the memory muscles to remember steps.
There is a growing elderly population and a variety of Mental Health challenges, from depression, loneliness, ‘burn-outs’, conditions such as Autism – with the challenges of emotional/behavioural regulation, affecting young and old with impacts on strained public services and communities. What role can creativity and and design thinking methodologies play at helping solve such societal challenges? Along with considering many of the other societal issues such as displacement of thousands of refugees, as a society and community, we have to consider the impact our mental health and well-being has within a not only to the individual, but also the loved ones, the carers, the community, the City and also the Economy – for employers with subsequent absences and for the Government.
Some of these projects being driven also by our own observations within our own family lives and immediate communities, taking a ‘grassroots’ approach. Striving for this sense of wanting to improve services available within our districts. If certain services are not available or in need of some innovation – how can we ‘design’ or ‘re-design’ these services and better ‘design our communities’ taking a citizen / user / customer centric approach?
With looking to other potentially interested stakeholders, we venture on this journey together. From other ‘like minded’ organisations, and inspiring individuals, entrepreneurs, social innovators and change makers.
In our following posts you will hear more about our projects of Care in the Community and in particular the project on Mental health, as well as our Collaborators.
If you’re interested to know more, please contact us.