9 February 2007

Demos project on user-led service design in local authorities

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Demos Project
Demos, the UK think tank for everyday democracy, is starting a project with three local authorities: Lewisham, Knowsley and Bristol, to work out how change happens in local authorities.

The project will focus on two policy areas: young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), and parental engagement in their children’s learning.

“The work has a number of phases. First, we will map the formal services available to NEET young people and to parents in each local authority. Then, we will work with both groups to see the kinds of informal support they access, from family to friends, church or peer groups. The third phase of the project will bring service providers – schools, colleges and social services – together with service users – NEET young people and parents – to collaboratively design a service that works for both of them. The services will then be piloted by each local authority and evaluated by Demos.”

Researchers involved are Matthew Horne, former director of the UK Design Council’s RED unit (whom I presume will take the lead), together with Niamh Gallagher and Hannah Green. Together with Hilary Cottam, Charles Leadbeater, David Albury and Colin Burns, and the rest of the RED team, Horne is currently setting up a social business to design and deliver the next generation of public services. (See also this post).

As well as the services in each local authority Demos will also produce a handbook on how to make change happen in local authorities based on the experiences in Lewisham, Knowsley and Bristol.

The researchers anticipate that this guide will be used by other local authorities interested in the process of change and by national policy makers keen to understand the culture and practices of local authorities.

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