Co-designing co-design…? It works!

Rahela Begum‘s blog reflects on the importance of co-design when creating community solutions.

While many of us debate whether it’s too soon to put the heating on or not, some of us are thinking about what else we can do to stay warm. We are all feeling the cold now that nights are drawing in, but some of us are feeling it more than others. Those living with long-term health conditions such as COPD, heart disease, diabetes and depression are more affected by the cold weather. So what can we do about the rising cost of living, and the inevitable cold weather this Winter?

We worked with local residents in Thames View and Riverside to come up with some ideas to see if we can reduce the impact of the cold on those living with long-term health conditions. Thanks to Cadent Foundation, the charitable arm of Cadent Gas, and a number of fabulous partners and community members, we have co-created a number of interventions that we are testing throughout the Winter.

So how did we start? We decided to co-design the co-design! Sounds complicated I know, but this method was actually incredibly effective. We formed a Steering Group, made up of local service providers, people who worked for organisations that serve the local population of Barking and Dagenham, as well as wider areas across North East London, and even nationally across the UK! Their knowledge helped us understand what support was already available. They were also able to tell us the types of services that had helped people over the past few years throughout this cost of living crisis, forming a great foundation for our project to start from. The Steering Group acted as a great point for us to regularly consult, as we developed the co-design element with residents. They pointed us in the right direction for recruiting the co-design group, and guided us back when we strayed away from our goals.

The resident co-design group was selected based on those that fit our criteria of living with a long-term health condition and residing in Thames View or Riverside. We chose this area as life expectancy is lower than other parts of the borough and there is a high number of people living with multiple long-term health conditions but also because of the progressive work that’s happening there.  The area has seen huge regeneration and investment, including a new overground station and boat service connecting to the rest of London and a new health and wellbeing centre due to open, all of which will lead to more positive outcomes for those that live there.

“To ensure event success make them accessible for all, events should be held in different places such as the church, Rivergate Centre, Wilds, Sue Bramley. “

Isalina Ferreira, Resident & Co-Design Member

The co-design group helped us identify what the barriers were for local people accessing support services, and what they needed to be able to get the best help possible. They also stressed how important it was to design something that brought the community together. The output is a series of events in different venues across Thames View and Riverside, ensuring easy accessibility for local people and that brings services to life, offering one-to-one chats about financial support, chair based exercises and masterclasses on how to cook on a budget and much more.

Thank you to our Community Steering Group and our Steering Group partners, LBBD, DABDTurn2usNational Energy Action (NEA)Groundwork Green DoctorsThames View Health CentreCreative Wellness, Shed Life, Thames Life for helping make this possible. Been great to see the positive feedback coming through.

“It’s been great to meet new people and listen to new experiences. We’ve valued being able to connect with other advice services and have loved seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they join in physical activities.”

Event Facilitator

If you are interested in joining us at an upcoming event, we’d love to see you. See poster below for dates and register here.

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