Session type:

Case Study

Presented by:

Michael Christov

London Borough of Waltham Forest

George Despotidis

London Borough of Waltham Forest

Greg Winfield

London Borough of Waltham Forest

Session time:

16 Sep 16:00 17:00

Session duration:

60 minutes

About the session

COVID 19 posed new challenges for user centred design in Local Government.

At a time of high pressure, we developed a Citizens’ Panel, blending remote research, data-driven insight and iterative design approaches enabled us to safely prototype and develop a new service called Stay Safe Champions. This delivered targeted information and reassurance to residents as they coped with the new way of life under the pandemic.

We will explain how our approach ensured strong buy in for design and delivered the best outcomes for residents.

Where it began
Service Design first started as a team of 3 service designers within the Commissioning team of our Council, focusing on conducting user research to understand needs of residents for services we were to commission. Instead of a traditional approach to commissioning where the commissioning officer is a subject-matter expert specialising in a particular service (e.g. mental health), we shifted our focus to users and perceived them as the experts (or potential users).

Fast forward to 2020
Our team now sits at the heart of the organisation within the newly developed Strategy, Design and Communities team We apply design thinking and methodologies to the development of policies, strategies, and services

We form multi-disciplinary teams around change/innovation projects and work closely with:

  • Policy – helps with change/innovation being strategically embedded
  • Insights – quantitative data for our residents help us discover needs and understand our residents
  • Communities – relationship with community groups and the wider VCS helps us understand the needs of our communities

Responding to Covid19
With COVID-19 having a huge impact on residents, we wanted to quickly implement a way to regularly engage with different groups across our borough. To do this, we set up a COVID-19 citizens panel to find out about the attitudes, experiences and needs of our diverse communities that depend on our services. The council uses these insights to inform its actions.

We work closely with the council’s management board, our Public Health, Covid Delivery and Communications teams to both share the outputs and decide what we should be asking about. The citizens panel has created an even stronger evidence base from which senior management can make their decisions, keeping key decision makers closely connected with the mood, behaviour and needs of our residents.

The Citizens Panel highlighted the fact that residents’ experiences vary and therefore we need to take a hyper-local approach to keeping our communities safe – we need to go where people are, provide info in their local area and develop a community approach (rather than focusing on compliance and ‘policing’).

Therefore, we decided to develop the Stay Safe Champions initiative, which is our community presence to enhance understanding, control infection & help everyone stay safe, driven by data and insight to help us target the areas most in need.

Participant takeaways:

  • A design approach is valuable jumping into the ‘unknown’
  • Data and insights are extremely valuable to guide the development of small-scale prototypes and assess impact.
  • Think about how to keep people engaged

This session will be:

  • Delivered: Live
  • Recorded: Yes
  • Has a participant number cap: No


Themes: Research, Participatory Design, Covid19, Local Gov

About the speaker(s)