February 27, 2009
Sir William Beveridge initiated the creation of Great Britain's welfare state with his first report in 1942. He defined an approach to public services that was intended to create an active collaboration between citizen and state. By the time of his third report in 1948 he expressed the concern that the new education, health and social services were encouraging citizens to become passive consumers instead of active participants. Sixty years later Hilary Cottam, Hugo Manassei and Charlie Leadbeater of Participle are looking to change that.
Their mission statement is titled Beveridge 4.0 and you can download it from their site. Participle is now working on a series of projects including ones around ageing and youth. A project called Southwark Circle focused on increasing the quality of life of older people and has resulted in the launch of a social enterprise to deliver new services in a sustainable way.
Hilary showed another project on dealing with the loneliness of older people at Davos done for Westminster Council in London and, as with the Southwark Circle project, it was exciting to see robust business model ideas emerging along with new ideas for services.
This approach to redesigning public services is a great example of design thinking in the social arena and it seems to me it could be applied well beyond the UK even in countries that do not have the heritage of Sir William Beveridge.