Co Create

Exploring the Impact of Co-Design in the Third Sector

Team: Claire Bradnam, Laura Warwick, John Vines, Heather Robson (Northumbria University); MIND.


Timeframe: 2018-2021

This doctoral research project focuses on exploring the ethics of co-design practice and the impact that participating in a co-design process has on participants. The research focuses on co-design projects in the third sector, and is especially interested in what the negative and positive impacts of participation might be, and how they can be enhanced or managed respectively. The project will also explore the role that a co-design project lead might have in managing the design process.

This project will focus on co-design participants that fit the following criteria:

1) They have lived experience of the issue being focused on;
2) They are a current, existing or potential service user;
3) The do not have formal design training.

Over the last 30 years, changes in the scope of public services have led to more third sector organisations delivering public services in ways that empower service users. These services require a change in the way they are created, and co-design is a method adopted for this purpose. However, there is a lack of critical engagement in the application and delivery of co-design processes. With an increase in co-design methods being used by the third sector it is vital that co-design practitioners interrogate their practice to ensure that engagement is meaningful, creates value and is ultimately ethical practice. An absence of this interrogation undermines the social purpose of these organisations.

------- CoCreate members working on this project:

------- Publications related to this project:

Warwick, L., Tinning, A. & Young, R. (2018) ‘Co-designing wellbeing: the commonality of needs between co-designers and mental health service users’, in Design Research Society. [Online]. 2018


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