Each year, students on the Service Design for Social Innovation module at Loughborough Design School explore solutions to a real-life, community-based problem.
This year, their brief focussed on how service design for social innovation could be used to generate income, raise awareness, and bring visitors to Loughborough’s Fearon Hall in a financially challenging climate.
Collaborating with key stakeholder groups, including Fearon Community Association, Charnwood Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council, the students have spent five months co-designing a range of solutions, responding to research findings and user feedback.
On Wednesday (6 June), the students, who have been working in six separate groups, presented their ideas at an event at Fearon Hall.
Their proposals include a creative arts ambassador programme, using the ballroom as a space for University students to play board games, utilising the garden and green areas for family activities and creating a pop-up cinema experience targeting parents and young children.
One group proposed a ‘plants and pooches’ activity to boost wellbeing and reduce social isolation in older people by providing animal-based therapy and opportunities to pot and grow plants.
Another suggested developing Fearon Hall into a local music hub, utilising the ballroom as a venue and running music lessons from the hall.
As part of the project, each student group produced a video prototype which demonstrates how the solution would work.
Their ideas are now in the process of being considered by the management committee of Fearon Community Association, to see if any of the suggested activities are feasible, deliverable and viable.
Dr Carolina Escobar-Tello, Lecturer in Industrial/Product Design and module leader, commented: “We are always amazed by the outputs generated throughout this module. It is an innovative, enriching experience for all parties involved.
“The project brings people together, adding value and reflecting the true nature of bottom-up collaborations.
“This year, students have developed business plans and have brought them to quite a realistic level. This means the ideas they presented are truly viable opportunities, almost ready for implementation.”
Speaking about the collaboration and its impact, Meg Bezzano-Griffiths, Centre Manager of Fearon Hall, said: “It has been a delight to work with such creative and innovative thinkers to explore the issue of what a modern day community centre should look and feel like, and how to meet the changing demands of the communities it serves whilst operating as a business with community well and truly at its heart.
“The impact of this for Fearon Hall is invaluable, especially under the current uncertain economic climate that many community associations face.”