Dundee’s social enterprises get design boost from Creative Dundee

Earlier this month I attended an Information Session for Boost by Design, the venture by Creative Dundee to start the process of embedding design thinking into the city’s social enterprises. The Rank Foundation has funded Creative Dundee to facilitate four workshops for up to 20 participants. The programme of half-day workshops provides an introduction to design, digital tools and community building and be led by service design agency, Open Change as well as Creative Dundee and local designers.

Creative Dundee started as a community-focused blog sharing events happening across the city that set out to amplify the creative community and connect it to the rest of the city. It formally became a social enterprise in 2013. It continues to use its website to publicise groups, particularly those in the 3rd sector. The enterprise holds events such as the large scale, Pecha Kucha Night regularly attracting audiences of 300 people and the more intimate Make/Share, where people can talk about what they make and how they make it in a city pub. As a social enterprise, Creative Dundee has to earn its keep and does this via securing contracts and grants. It’s also created a crowdsourced guide to Dundee and raises the profile of good things happening, such as the Postcard from Stobswell project. Creative Dundee is making a big impact for such a small team and that’s what they’re all about, and actually, the city of Dundee is about that too.

Introducing us to the Boost by Design programme, Creative Dundee Director, Gillian Easson, told us that getting and keeping the UNESCO City of Design has been a priority for the city’s creative leaders and they are keen to see the accolade used to its full advantage as well as inspire organisations to think differently about design. The published Dundee Design Values shows that Dundee is not just using design to think about aesthetics but that it’s integral to addressing social justice, inclusion and challenges communities are facing.

The Dundee Design Festival held earlier this year in West Ward Works had a health, community and social agenda with topics addressing medicine, technology and the arts.  V&A Dundee have also made appointments to build capacity in design education for both the community and business. There is a commitment to make sure the 3rd sector does not get left behind. Social enterprises, in particular, are competing in a commercial world and benefit from entrepreneurial thinking.

Mike Press and Hazel White from Open Change spoke about the work they are already doing with the NHS, local authority and charities on service design and used examples from Togs for Tots to Teens and the Dundee City Council Education department where they focused on finding the right problems to solve before solving them leading to more efficient picking for the former project and raising attainment for pupils in the latter.

The Circle, as a new social enterprise, is delighted to apply to take part in Boost and we will be keeping our fingers crossed! It looks like a great programme and we want to work towards sharing the City’s Design Values as well as make sure we are delivering the right services to our clients as well as fulfilling our goals for the community. We are also happy to be hosting the programme of events when they start in February 2017. The sessions are:

  1. Service Design
  2. Storytelling with impact
  3. Engaging audiences
  4. Community building

You can find out more and sign up to take part here.

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