Unearth Hidden Assets through Community Co-design and Co-production

Lead Research Organisation: Brunel University
Department Name: Design

Abstract

One of the driving forces behind the Connected Communities scheme is to help communities become stronger, more resilient and self-reliant so that they can adapt and thrive even in difficult times like the economic downturn. Recent research showed that good use of co-design and co-production in community-led developments could support community building, since the participatory approach encourages self-help and positive behaviour changes, as well as create new networks within the community and strengthen existing ones. Effective use of co-design and co-production in community-led developments could get hard to reach groups involved and come up with creative and practical solutions.

However, successful use of co-design and co-production in community-led developments is still rare. In most cases, people are not truly treated as co-decision makers or co-developers. The majority of engagements in community-led development projects are confined to consultation practices. Experts observed that engagement activities should not focus on identifying needs, problems and deficiencies, as it could make people look at their communities with negative lenses. It would be more useful to concentrate on assets that a community possesses (e.g. self-help groups) and explore how to mobilise them to create new opportunities. As a result, we are interested in the 'Asset-Based Community Development: ABCD' concept, which begins with the self-mapping exercise to uncover hidden assets.

For us, these positive principles will underpin our approach to co-design and co-production, since it concentrates on working with communities to achieve lasting changes. While the original ABCD concept aims to identify assets to create new economic opportunities, we are particularly interested in how to uncover hidden assets - the assets that are currently unrecognised by most community members (e.g. voices of marginalised members). We would like to find out why some community engagement activities include/exclude certain members of the community. What are conditions that enable/hinder community engagement? It is important to explore both practical and emotional barriers, e.g. ethnic/cultural differences that could lead to prejudices and stigmas. Although previous studies suggested that it is unrealistic to expect the same level of participation from all members of a community, there is a need to ensure that community engagement activities are designed in ways that allows active members to shine without making less-active members feel left out. We will explore how to practically make community-led developments more inclusive. We are also interested in exploring how the asset-mapping exercise might help us understand the makeup of a community. The idea is to understand the makeup of a well-functioning community and use it as an example to inspire other communities to realise their potential and help them move towards becoming well-functioning.

Our main contribution and innovative element of our proposal is making the invisible (people, assets and the makeup of a community) visible so that they can be utilised to create new opportunities for communities in an inclusive manner. Hence, the aim of the project is 'to find out how to achieve inclusive asset-based community developments through co-design and co-production.'

In Phase 1, we will try out different co-creation techniques (e.g. community film making and community-led design) to find out which co-creation activities include or exclude which groups and which activities are likely to identify which types of assets (e.g. economic, social or cultural assets). We will work with communities to learn from previous ABCD projects, reflect on our former community engagement experiences, identify potential barriers and explore how to address them. What we learn from piloting different co-creation activities will help us shape up the agendas and methodology for Phase 2, and plan inclusive co-production activities.

Planned Impact

The impacts of our project can be broadly described as follows:

- Enhancing the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom by helping communities realise their potential and utilise their assets to create new opportunities and lasting changes - this is the first step towards making them more resilient and self-reliant

- Increasing the effectiveness of public policy by providing insight into the current practical and psychological barriers preventing certain members of communities from being engaged with community-led development activities

- Enhancing the quality of life of unengaged/marginalised members of communities by making engagement methods and activities more inclusive - this will increase a chance of engaging with currently hard-to-reach groups

- Improving creative outputs at the community/local/regional level by making community engagement activities more inclusive, more people may get involved in community-led developments. Subsequently, all key issues would be examined from wider perspectives which could lead to a wider range of ideas and better results.

Our primary direct beneficiaries are participating communities. They will have opportunities for dialogue and reflection which will lead to insights and improvements into how their community functions and could make better use of assets. The co-production and co-design activities will also develop outputs, the representations (e.g. asset maps), which communities will be able to use as a basis for future actions, including social enterprise or funding proposals.

Other direct beneficiaries are community leaders, community-based organisations (e.g. local charities and voluntary groups) practitioners in the field of community development and local authorities leading/facilitating community-led development initiatives. This group can directly benefit from the new knowledge, new insights, new materials (e.g. case studies) and advanced methodology for community engagement. Our project will help people leading/facilitating community-led developments identify assets in communities and realise their potential through appropriate use of co-design, co-creation and co-production. As the methodology will be derived from the co-creation with participating communities, it could help improve both the process and the outcomes of community-led developments. By engaging a wider group of people, the process becomes more inclusive, improving the quality of the results.

We have identified several groups of indirect beneficiaries.

- Firstly, other communities may be inspired by the outcomes of the project and apply the methodology to realise their potential through co-design and co-production.

- Secondly, creative professionals and co-design practitioners may benefit from an improved understanding of co-design, co-creation and co-production among people in communities, new materials (e.g. case studies) and new insights reporting which co-creation activity works and what does not work with different groups in communities.

- Our project could benefit practitioners working in the field of open design, open innovation, social innovation and social enterprise, as these professionals are interested in collective creativity. Our new knowledge and methodology could help advance their practices and understanding of different levels of creative participation.

- In addition, our project enables policy makers and organisations funding community-led development projects to assess whether communities are properly engaged and given sufficient opportunities to propose ideas and turn ideas into reality. By exploring what could be done to engage hard-to-reach groups, suitable governmental interventions at local, regional and national levels can be planned more effectively.

Publications

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Kelemen M (2018) Cultural animation in health research: An innovative methodology for patient and public involvement and engagement. in Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy

 
Title Shinfield Rise Monopoly Board 
Description The concept of 'Glossopoly Game' (http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/geography/research/projects/ConCom/glossopoly) which was developed by Dr Martin Philips, one of the co-investigators, was the main inspiration of this artefact. The idea was to get local children to create the Shinfield Rise version of monopoly board that captures all hidden assets in the area and their values. The children's ideas were captured and later visualised by the principal investigator. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The development process of this board, which required children to explore their areas, take pictures of what they considered to be valuable assets (e.g. local people), and assign values to these hidden assets had helped them think positively about the area. This process also turn passive participants (children who attending Youth Club activities) into active community actors. The children contributed their time and collective creativity to their community. 
URL https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1542292869334869.1073741830.1400990616798429&type=3
 
Title Unearth Hidden Assets Video 
Description The video capturing key activities and outputs of the four sub-projects carried out as parts of this study. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact This video has helped the researchers reach wider audiences. The video was presented at the Connected Communities Festival 2014 and shared through various sites, such as The Glass-House Community Led Design and Unearthing Hidden Assets Facebook page. 
URL http://vimeo.com/100518574
 
Description The co-design and co-production approach has potential to assist communities in discovering hidden assets and putting them into good use in the way that match their needs and aspirations. By encouraging different stakeholders to work together, identify real problems, generate ideas, testing ideas with wider audiences and implement ideas, the outputs are likely to reflect the needs and expectations of all parties involved. Active engagement also helps build empathy and trust among all parties. The hands-on creative techniques employed in the co-design and co-production process have proven to be useful in providing a 'safe' space for experiment with unconventional ideas and a 'level playing field' for all stakeholders to contribute on an equal basis. The study revealed that 'people' are often the most important assets in a community. Engaging people in a creative process such as co-design and co-production could help them appreciated their skills, knowledge and creativity - this, in turn, has helped them recognise themselves as assets.
Exploitation Route The findings have been published and disseminated to design academics, researchers and practitioners, which could help them develop better understanding about how co-design and co-production methods could be used in their work, especially those related to community-led developments. The findings have been developed into creative workshops, which was regularly introduced to students in MA Design Strategy and Innovation and MA Design and Branding Strategy courses, which have helped them gain better understanding about co-design and co-production methods in the community context. Many students have applied similar approaches in their dissertations. The findings have been developed into a few guidance for project partners, e.g. Tidworth Mum. In this way, the outcomes have been taken forward and implemented in partner organizations.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education

URL https://www.facebook.com/unearthinghiddenassets
 
Description The findings reveal that the co-design and co-production approach could help people identify hidden assets in their communities and unlock their potentials. The community-led projects carried out with four different communities helped people recognise themselves as assets, as many participants reported the positive changes in their attitudes and self-confidence. A number of public engagement activities led to new community development projects, e.g. a case for soft play provision and a community garden. Indirectly, the project has helped improve the quality of life of local people involved and helped active members of the community find creative ways to engage people, which could lead to potentially better outputs of community-led projects in the future.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Cross-pollination Writing Retreat
Amount £2,780 (GBP)
Organisation Connected Communities 
Department The Connected Communities Catalyst Fund
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 05/2017
 
Description Community Partner - HealthWORKS Newcastle 
Organisation HealthWORKS Newcastle
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Offered an opportunity to 1) take part in academic research, 2) exchange knowledge and ideas with academics and practitioners in the areas of community-led development, and 3) network/collaborate with other not-for-profit organisations; helped the organisation identified their existing assets and explored how to develop and utilise them further to create new opportunities; disseminate their good practices to wider audiences.
Collaborator Contribution Committed staff time to attend all project meetings; contributed to 1) the development of overall research agendas, 2) planning and delivering research activities, especially in the sub-project led by Dr Philips, 3) all cross-pollination activities, 4) both individual and collective reflections on research process and project outputs/outcomes; provided access to train trainers working with their organisation; helped promote research activities to local residents; and disseminated outputs.
Impact The multidisciplinary research brought together a social geographer and a community organisation specialised in public healthcare. This sub-project led to a better understanding of 1) active members in their community (e.g. their motivations), 2) existing assets owned by the organisation (e.g. facilities) and 3) the history of community asset building in the East and West Newcastle. This resulted in an appropriate plan for reconfiguration of existing and underutilised assets.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Community Partner - Shinfield Rise Community Flat 
Organisation Shinfield Rise Community Flat
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Offered an opportunity to 1) take part in academic research, 2) exchange knowledge and ideas with academics and practitioners in the areas of community-led development, and 3) network/collaborate with other not-for-profit organisations; helped the community identified their existing assets and explored how to develop and utilise them further to create new opportunities; disseminate their good practices to wider audiences.
Collaborator Contribution Committed staff time to attend all project meetings; contributed to 1) the development of overall research agendas, 2) planning and delivering research activities, especially in the sub-project led by Dr Lam, 3) all cross-pollination activities, 4) both individual and collective reflections on research process and project outputs/outcomes; provided access to all local residents in the areas (300+); helped promote research activities to wider audiences; and disseminated research outputs.
Impact The multidisciplinary research brought together a design academic and community development workers. It resulted in a better understanding of existing and underutilised assets in the area (e.g. green spaces). The sub-project created a number of public engagement activities that led to the planning of the community garden project, which could help the Shinfield Rise Community Flat strengthen relationships with active members of their community and reach currently unengaged residents in their area.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Community Partner - Tidworth Mums 
Organisation Tidworth Mums
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Offered an opportunity to 1) take part in academic research, 2) exchange knowledge and ideas with academics and practitioners in the areas of community-led development, and 3) network/collaborate with other not-for-profit organisations; helped the organisation identified their existing assets and explored how to develop and utilise them further to create new opportunities; disseminate their good practices to wider audiences.
Collaborator Contribution Committed staff time to attend all project meetings; contributed to 1) the development of overall research agendas, 2) planning and delivering research activities, especially in the sub-project led by Dr Zamenopoulos, 3) all cross-pollination activities, 4) both individual and collective reflections on research process and project outputs/outcomes; provided access to all members of the group (1,800+); helped promote research activities to wider audiences; and disseminated research outputs.
Impact The multidisciplinary research brought together a design academic, a community-led organisation, a local council and a group of community actors. This resulted in a better understanding of existing and underutilised assets (e.g. time for volunteering). Moreover, this sub-project created a number of public engagement activities that led to the development of the 'case for soft play' project in Tidworth, which could benefit many local families in the area.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Project Partner - Kindle Partnerships 
Organisation Kindle Partnerships
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Offered an opportunity to 1) take part in academic research, 2) exchange knowledge and ideas with academics and practitioners in the areas of community-led development, and 3) network/collaborate with other not-for-profit organisations; provided an opportunity for the organisation to engage/collaborate with local people in their area; disseminate their good practices to wider audiences.
Collaborator Contribution Committed staff to attend all project meetings; contributed to 1) the development of overall research agendas, 2) planning and delivering research activities, especially in the sub-project titled 'Picture of Health' led by Professor Kelemen, 3) all cross-pollination activities, 4) both individual and collective reflections on research process and project outputs/outcomes; brought in knowledge, expertise and experiences of working in the UK public healthcare sector to the study; and disseminate outputs.
Impact The multidisciplinary research brought together an academic specialised in Cultural Animation and American Pragmatism, experts in participatory theatrical techniques, and an organisation specialised in public healthcare. The project helped local residents better understood their health options and how they could influence the public healthcare services. A number of local people took part in the activities reported positive changes in attitudes.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Project Partner - The Glass-House 
Organisation Glass-House Community Led Design
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Offered an opportunity to 1) take part in academic research, 2) exchange knowledge and ideas with academics and practitioners in the areas of community-led development, and 3) network/collaborate with other not-for-profit organisations; helped the organisation evaluate and develop their community-led design practices further and disseminate them to wider audiences.
Collaborator Contribution Committed staff time to attend all project meetings; contributed to 1) the development of overall research agendas, 2) planning and delivering research activities, especially in the sub-project led by Dr Zamenopoulos, 3) all cross-pollination activities, 4) both individual and collective reflections on research process and project outputs/outcomes; provided access to creative staff, knowledge, expertise and previous experiences of community-led design project; helped disseminate research results.
Impact The multidisciplinary research brought together a design academic, a community-led organisation, a local council and a group of community actors. This resulted in a better understanding of existing and underutilised assets (e.g. time for volunteering). Moreover, this sub-project created a number of public engagement activities that led to the development of the 'case for soft play' project in Tidworth, which could benefit many local families in the area.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Project Partner - The New Vic Theatre 
Organisation Arts Council England
Department New Vic Theatre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Offered an opportunity to 1) take part in academic research, 2) exchange knowledge and ideas with academics and practitioners in the areas of community-led development, and 3) network/collaborate with other not-for-profit organisations; provided an opportunity for the organisation to engage/collaborate with local people in their area; disseminate their good practices (e.g. participatory theatrical techniques) to wider audiences.
Collaborator Contribution Committed staff time to attend project meetings; contributed to 1) the development of overall research agendas, 2) planning and delivering research activities, especially in the sub-project titled 'Picture of Health' led by Professor Kelemen, 3) all cross-pollination activities, 4) both individual and collective reflections on research process and project outputs/outcomes; brought in knowledge, expertise and experiences of applying theatrical techniques to work with marginalised people
Impact The multidisciplinary research brought together an academic specialised in Cultural Animation and American Pragmatism, experts in participatory theatrical techniques, and an organisation specialised in public healthcare. The project helped local residents better understood their health options and how they could influence the public healthcare services. A number of local people took part in the activities reported positive changes in attitudes.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Project Partner - The Wiltshire Council 
Organisation Wiltshire County Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Offered an opportunity to 1) take part in academic research, 2) exchange knowledge and ideas with academics and practitioners in the areas of community-led development, and 3) network/collaborate with other organisations; provided an opportunity for the organisation to engage/collaborate with local people in their area; disseminate their good practices (Wiltshire Voices: http://wiltshirevoices.wordpress.com) to wider audiences.
Collaborator Contribution Committed staff time to attend all project meetings; contributed to 1) the development of overall research agendas, 2) planning and delivering research activities, especially in the sub-project led by Dr Zamenopoulos, 3) all cross-pollination activities, 4) both individual and collective reflections on research process and project outputs/outcomes; provided access to key people in the area (e.g. Play Youth and Community Development Worker, Army Welfare Service); helped reach wider audiences.
Impact The multidisciplinary research brought together a design academic, a community-led organisation, a local council and a group of community actors. This resulted in a better understanding of existing and underutilised assets (e.g. time for volunteering). Moreover, this sub-project created a number of public engagement activities that led to the development of the 'case for soft play' project in Tidworth, which could benefit many local families in the area.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Co-design Lecture and Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The co-design lecture and workshops were organised for all postgraduate students of MA Design Strategy and Innovation and MA Design and Branding Strategy in academic year 2015 - 16. 10% are Home/EU students and 90% are overseas students. They came from various creative backgrounds, e.g. design, art, business management and media studies. The lecture materials and workshop activities were developed based on the research outputs of the Unearthing Hidden Asset project. These engagement activities generated strong research interested among students. Approximately 20% of workshop attendees chose co-design/co-creation as the key subject areas for their master dissertations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Exploratory Workshop: Shinfield Rise (10/05/2013) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact This exploratory workshop was carried out with active members of the Shinfield Rise community, e.g. community development workers, members of Shinfield North Community First panel, local residents and the Commissioning Officer, Strategy and Commissioning, Wokingham Borough Council. This workshop helped the researchers explore how co-design methods could support community-led developments. It has helped identify key areas for future community development projects.

The workshop generated positive responses from the community. Several participants commented that the workshop helped them think positively and constructively about their area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1542296002667889.1073741831.1400990616798429&type=3
 
Description Mega Soft Play Day, Tidworth 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As an active provider and supporter of creative activities for local families in their neighbourhood, Tidworth Mums had a vision for a new soft play centre in Tidworth. The group worked together with other partners to organised the 'Mega Soft Play Day' to 1) better understand local views on play, 2) build evidence that could be used to influence local decision makers and support a compelling business case, 3) test the idea of more flexible play. This study resulted in a strong business case.

The event has helped Tidworth Mums better understand the local views on play, especially soft play, and build a strong case for further support in providing the flexible play where children of different ages and parents could all play together.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.tidworthmums.co.uk
 
Description Picture of Health 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A 'Picture of Health' set out to co-design a health agenda with local communities in Stoke on Trent in response to the top-down health agenda that remains prevalent in public health discourses.

Participants of the workshops (local residents of Stoke on Trent) reported positive changes in their attitudes regarding public health services. At the beginning of the workshop, most participants did not believe that they could influence how public health services are developed and delivered. Nevertheless, their attitudes had changed as the result of the workshops. Participants' reflections at the end of the workshops showed that most of them believed that they could make a difference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1542211856009637.1073741828.1400990616798429&type=3
 
Description Shinfield Rise Asset Mapping (01/11/13) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The asset mapping was organised as part of the Shinfield Rise Community Flat's 1st year anniversary celebration activities. It was considered successfully in getting people to identify/recognise hidden assets in their community in a short period of time. The assets can be grouped into various categories: languages (e.g. Romania and Filipino), sport skills, music skills, art & craft (e.g. water colour painting and knitting), time for volunteering, etc.

The event create positive responses from the community. Several local residents commented that the event helped them think more positively about their area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1542290049335151.1073741829.1400990616798429&type=3
 
Description Shinfield Rise Community Garden (7/04/14) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Research outcomes suggest that 'people' are the main assets of this community. The aspiration for this area is to help people recognise themselves as assets and start unlocking their potential. Subsequently, the research team focused on getting local residents to play a more active role in shaping up their community. This workshop was designed to unlock and make use of people's time and collective creativity for community projects. The ideas and concepts for a community garden were created.

The event create positive responses from the community. Most participants enjoyed the proactive role and some local residents volunteered themselves to give further support to the community garden project (e.g. offer to give some plants and help supervise professional landscapers).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1554098218154334.1073741833.1400990616798429&type=3
 
Description Unearth hidden assets and scaling up co-design, Connected Communities Festival 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The event has helped the researchers disseminated results to wider audiences and created interested in applying the co-design and co-production approaches in community-led research and development projects.

A good use of creative activities enabled the research team to connect with people and help them understand the concept of the project as well as the co-created outcomes. The event was video-recorded and publicly shared by AHRC Press via YouTube channel.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dC2XrRivT0