Life was conceived, born and raised in Swindon, England. Through the insights of a few individuals from health organisations, Swindon Borough Council and partnership organisations such as the police, probation, fire service etc., they realised that the current provision was not producing the results they required. In 2009, Swindon Borough Council and One Swindon (a local partnership with other agencies, such as police, probation etc.) partnered with social innovation group Participle to develop a new approach.
Life was initially run as a successful pilot project whose aim was to create more productive and beneficial relationships between families and the system. It was developed by and is supported by Participle.
The Participle team rented a house on an estate in Swindon and spent 6 months living in the community, as well as shadowing front-line workers. Members of the Participle team spend days and days with particular families, eating together, hanging out with friends together, shopping together, looking for kids in the middle of the night together.
From this emerged various insights. For example, while tracing the 18 year histories of family engagements with the council, we discovered there had been no change, within those 18 years. Looking specifically at one worker’s engagement with a teenager in one specific family we were able to plot the following: 74% of their time was spent on administration, 12% of their time was spent supporting the teenager indirectly through liaison with other agencies, and 14% of their time was spent in the family home, and the majority of this time was spent collecting information and data to fulfill the reporting duties in the 74%.
We initially worked with 12 families over several months to develop an alternative approach to the current system, and then prototype Life; Life was developed by families for families.
Life would not be where it is today, without the initial support, leadership and guidance of Caroline Fowles, who sadly lost her fight with cancer half way through Life’s development. In living memory, we dedicate this site to her.