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Lab Notes #10 | December round up

Our activities in December were pretty well summed up by our ongoing Working Out Loud on Twitter. We’ve annotated the tweets in this set of Lab Notes. 

Developing a collaborative project for local artists

During 2017 we’ve had a few coffees with creative producer Daniel Whitehouse and recently we shared a draft of our Detectorism Insights #1 research report with him. This led to discussions exploring a collaboration which will see Daniel joining the CoLab Team as he works on on a research and development project to support local artists and creative practitioners in Dudley to develop their potential as socially engaged practitioners and creative organisers.

CoLab Dudley features in Civil Society Support report

In the summer we shared our approach, experiments and learning with Jack Hunter from the Institute for Public Policy Research, a national think tank. He was looking at ways that the diverse ecosystem of organisations, funders and wider networks needs to adapt to ensure that civil society remains strong and healthy. Drawing on a range of case studies, interviews and data, the report presents some of the key opportunities and challenges for civil society support organisations, at a time when many established ways of working are shifting radically. It sets out a series of recommendations for how different organisations might need to adapt. We’re delighted to feature as a case study in the Civil Society Support in the North of England report.

Trade School Dudley learners lead their own field trip and reconvene to learn more

Ripples of activity from November’s Trade School Dudley classes…

Keeping the social capital stock pot bubbling at Dudley Social Media Surgery

Nick Booth has a great recipe for running a Social Media Surgery, which we’ve been using successfully in Dudley for 6 years.  He takes care to note that social capital is the most important ingredient, and suggests you can:

Think of social capital as the stock pot of your social media kitchen – you need to keep it bubbling constantly. By the way, it has to be home made and hand made. In an emergency you can borrow some social capital from your neighbour, but please take care to return it as soon as you can. Some people are tempted to use shop bought social capital. It never works.

We kept the stock pot bubbling in December’s surgery, with new relationships being added to the pot. We run Social Media Surgeries in Dudley every 3 months, and in between they are hosted in Halesowen and Stourbridge. See upcoming dates and find out more on at

Celebration of Doing

As you may have read in our previous Lab Notes, on 7 December we hosted a Celebration of Doing to share collective insights from research which doers of all ages have generously contributed to. We also invited doers to co-create of a scrapbook which will draw out themes, observations, stories and more from our research. Check out photos and reflections from the evening here.

CoLab Dudley runs a Design Thinking Bootcamp for Public Registrars in the Black Country

Colleagues from Public Health organising a Black Country Training Network asked if we could contribute a hands-on session to an event on influencing from a public health perspective, and in particular in local authorities. We focused on the growing influence of design thinking and lab processes, Rowan Conway at the RSA talks in this blog post about the fact that:

Human-centred design thinking methods — and service design in particular — have infiltrated business, government and third sector institutions and reinvented the way they approach innovation. And this in turn is disrupting traditional notions of how policy-making, business development, R&D, organisational design and strategy are done.

And in 2017 the Design Council’s Design in the Public Sector programme, delivered in partnership with the Local Government Association turned it’s focus to applying design process and methods to tackle public health challenges. They point out that at a time when public health budgets are tight and resources stretched, design is increasingly recognised as a vital tool to help transform services in communities across the globe.  

We’ve found the best way to introduce people to design thinking is by having a go, whether through design jams like the one we ran recently with Dudley Youth Council or by using some of the fantastic resources that Stanford have put together as downloadable crash courses and bootcamps. To fit with the public health context we picked an Introduction to Design Thinking workshop which focuses on people’s morning routines as the starting point for a design challenge. (Bonus points for touching on all of the Five Ways to Wellbeing!)

CoLab Dudley #OnTheVale

A week later a few members of the CoLab Dudley team spent some time with residents and housing association staff in Castle Vale as part of a week of activities #OnTheVale. Impact Hub Birmingham are working with them to explore how they might transform a building on the High Street into a place where people can live, work and champion the things that make Castle Vale amazing.

Residents were eager to hear about CoLab Dudley’s home, gather, on Dudley High Street and had all sorts of questions about what helped gather to be the creative and welcoming space that it is.

A Detectorism session with Dudley CVS teams

There was just time before the end of the year to fit in a Detectorism session bringing together work and insights from across Dudley CVS teams. The session sought to generate ideas for ways that Dudley CVS and Healthwatch Dudley might build stories which reflect the work of the community and voluntary sector and develop a rich narrative which speaks to challenges around loneliness and isolation. We’ll share more on this as the work develops.

Notes by Lorna Prescott


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