Can new approaches to com­mu­nity co-design develop new inno­v­a­tive con­sul­ta­tion tools to enable more appro­pri­ate, effec­tive and engag­ing consultation?

Leapfrog community group project

Leapfrog >

Research Themes

Co-design, civil society, action research, knowledge exchange tools, digital tool design.

Simple tools to bring people together, exchange ideas and make stronger, more active communities.

Research Question

Can new approaches to com­mu­nity co-design develop new inno­v­a­tive con­sul­ta­tion tools to enable more appro­pri­ate, effec­tive and engag­ing consultation?

Research staff

Paul Smith, Joe Lockwood, Madeline Smith

Arthi Manohar, Emma Murphy, Tom Inns


£1.2 million funded by the Arts & Human­i­ties Research Coun­cil Con­nected Com­mu­ni­ties pro­gramme.

Partners and Collaborators

Leapfrog is a collaboration betweenled by ImaginationLancaster at Lancaster University, in partnership with and the Innovation School at The Glasgow School of Art.

Leapfrog is a close col­lab­o­ra­tion with pub­lic sec­tor and com­mu­nity part­ners to design and eval­u­ate new approaches to consultation. Con­sul­ta­tion is, the engage­ment of com­mu­ni­ties in pub­lic ser­vice deci­sion- is mak­ing. Itbecom­ing is becoming an increas­ingly impor­tant part of local and regional life with moves to help com­mu­ni­ties be more active and con­nected to their wider environment.

Leapfrog will helpaims to cre­ate and eval­u­ate these new mod­els of consultation, work­ing ini­tially with com­mu­ni­ties in Lan­cashire and the High­lands and Islands of Scot­land, and then more broadly across the UK. Lan­cashire has closely packed over­lap­ping com­mu­ni­ties that are can be hard to engage, e.g for example, with low rates of Eng­lish lit­er­acy. The High­lands and Islands com­mu­ni­ties are geo­graph­i­cally dis­persed and iso­lated and are strongly moti­vated to inno­vate by the difficulties challenges they face in terms of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and access.

The Leapfrog team includes experts in eval­u­a­tion, dig­i­tal tool design, engage­ment and social media. Work­ing across these two loca­tions will stress test our new con­sul­ta­tion approaches and helpto make them more robust when applied in other parts of the UK.

Our con­sul­ta­tion tools will be used by com­mu­ni­ties directly. They will also be exchanged with other com­mu­ni­ties who will be encour­aged to appro­pri­ate and adapt these tools to fitfor their own needs. Tools could be phys­i­cal, dig­i­tally down­loaded from and printed or entirely dig­i­tal in nature. Leapfrog will develop these new approaches through a process of co-design and col­lab­o­ra­tion with com­mu­ni­ties and pub­lic sec­tor part­ners where all par­ties play an active role in the cre­ative process.

Jennifer Milligan, Lancaster City Council:
As the council’s con­sul­ta­tion and engage­ment offi­cer I was very keen to be involved in this project. Co-designing inno­v­a­tive, cre­ative and prac­ti­cal tools helps the coun­cil in a climate of ever reducing resources to actively engage with our com­mu­nity, and build capac­ity within com­mu­ni­ties to carry out their own community engagement.

Leon Cruickshank, Principal Investigator, ImaginationLancaster:                                     By help­ing peo­ple to be cre­ative in their own way, we mean not attempt­ing to get them to be cre­ative in the same way that design­ers are cre­ative. We aspire to facil­i­tate pub­lic sec­tor   work­ers, com­mu­nity groups and 3rd sec­tor groups to mod­ify, and in time cre­ate their own tools to help them learn, com­mu­ni­cate, and be cre­ative with their own and other peo­ples’   cre­ative languages.

Paul Smith Co-Investigator GSA:

The leapfrog project is a great exam­ple of where design prac­tice has inno­vated into new areas and is help­ing to sup­port change and greater inclu­sion for soci­ety. We will see how design can con­tribute to greater auton­omy for cit­i­zens and how it can enhance ways for indi­vid­u­als to play active roles in deci­sions that affect them.

Tom Inns, Director of the Glasgow School of Art:
This timely project will be look­inglooks at the strate­gies that can be devel­oped for cre­ative facil­i­ta­tion within com­mu­nity groups, and in par­tic­u­lar the role of co-design approaches. There is con­sid­er­able inter­est in all gov­ern­ments into how inno­va­tion in pub­lic ser­vices can be encour­aged. Con­sul­ta­tion and co-design with ser­vice users is clearly crit­i­cal in any inno­va­tion. The Leapfrog project will pro­vide timely insights into how this might work with dif­fer­ent communities across the UK.