Image credit: Co-designing tools to address loneliness and social isolation (2017) Marianne McAra

Leapfrog was a £1.2 million 3-year Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project investigating the use of co-design methods to engage communities in public-sector decision making. In Leapfrog, The Glasgow School of Art and Imagination Lancaster at Lancaster University collaborated with public sector and community partners within the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Lancashire to design and evaluate new approaches to engagement. Both these areas exhibit hard to reach communities, often less included from community engagement. Working in these contexts helped us to challenge and test tools and approaches designed through Leapfrog and helped make them more robust for more effective application in other parts of the UK.

Leapfrog developed an evaluation framework to capture the value of the 42 tools created through the project and the co-design approach undertaken with the project partners. This evaluation highlighted four key themes evidencing impact: enhancing public sector and community partners’ working practices, providing a space for bringing people together and learning in practice, advancing a democratic practice to support greater ownership and relationship building, and the contribution of creative design approaches in supporting the process and results of engagement.

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