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Redesigned systems

What does it take to create the enabling conditions for people to come together and design systems that work for them?

Redesigned systems image

The pandemic offers the space and potential to rethink the things we value and the ways we organise as a society. New systems are essential if we are to respond effectively to future challenges and enable people to lead fulfilling lives. As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic we will be faced with opportunities to test out new approaches to the issues we face.

At the beginning of the pandemic, with a stroke of the pen, we could eliminate homelessness. But somehow we seem to think it’s all right to let that slip back and not capture the opportunity.

CEO of Salvere Social Enterprise CIC Stephen Sloss

What we heard…

“Thinking about the future, I would like to have less commuting and have a more environmentally friendly car. I’d like to do a lot more for the environment and get more involved in these activities. I’d like to hear more birdsong, less commuting, meeting different people, spending time together, looking after each other, coming together.”

Birmingham resident

“One thing I’d like in 10 years’ time is for the community to own the building, own the land. As developers move in around you and gentrify your area, prices go up and they want more. We make it a better area; developers take money from our success. It’s so much better to be community owned. There’s dignity in it; there’s a local stake in it.”

Adam Billington, creative director and grounds manager, Gatis Community Space, Wolverhampton

Samira Ben Omar, Community Voices and head of engagement and partnerships, NW London Integrated Care


New systems in different communities

Residents from the North West

“A rebalancing of power between the state and citizens.”

“Schools playing a bigger part in their local communities.”

Residents in Edinburgh

“A civic space full of stories that give people the opportunity to connect, to make change.”

“Communities feeling energised, citizens feeling able to participate.”

“Hope that cooperation will continue after the pandemic - cooperation rather than competition.”

“So many green spaces are private - not used - what a waste.”

Residents in Birmingham

“Being in the places where conversations are happening, places we need to listen, to prepare for the future the right way.”

“How we use public space and building, and our communities might work harder to enable those spontaneous, creative opportunities to happen. How to design happenstance!”

“We want collaboration in hyper-local communities to extend outwards and onwards.”


Stats and facts

  • Only 9 percent of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ after the coronavirus outbreak is over 

Source: Sky News


Food for thought 

“What COVID-19 is throwing into sharp relief is just how false our beliefs about markets are. Around the world, governments fear that critical systems will be disrupted or overloaded: supply chains, social care, but principally healthcare. There are lots of contributing factors to this. But let’s take two. First, it is quite hard to make money from many of the most essential societal services. This is in part because a major driver of profits is labour productivity growth: doing more with fewer people. People are a big cost factor in many businesses, especially those that rely on personal interactions, like healthcare. Second, jobs in many critical services aren’t those that tend to be highest valued in society.”

What will the world be like after coronavirus? Four possible futures, Dr Simon Mair, University of Surrey (2020) 

“In the longer run, we identify factors that are important for inequalities that have been brought about or accelerated by the pandemic. One is a further shift towards online retail instead of in-store purchases. Another is the potential for increasing numbers of office-based jobs to be undertaken at home or remotely at least part-time. This could have implications for people’s location decisions, their ability to search for and find work. In addition, changed expectations about the probability of future pandemics could change people’s and firms’ investment decisions.”

Inequalities in education, skills, and incomes in the UK: The implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, IFS Deaton Review (2021) 

Navigating the emerging future

  • Flotilla of different boats

    How can we support everyone to build greater resilience into their lives and communities and face the future with increased confidence?

  • Redistributed investment

    How could we resource a reconstruction effort that takes account of the needs of different people and places?

  • Redesigned systems

    What does it take to create the enabling conditions for people to come together and design systems that work for them?

  • Changing perspectives

    How could we encourage new ways of doing things that overcome resistance to change and the anti-risk instinct?

  • Crises on the horizon

    How can we acknowledge the diverse realities of our individual and collective losses?

  • Beacons of hope

    How could we enable every community to design its own future, to imagine what that might look like, and to have a powerful say about the decisions that impact them?