Innovation Labs at LDF18: guest piece by Jonathan Hindley

6th April 2018

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About Jonathan

Jon works as a public health officer for Leeds City Council for the locality and primary care team. This team manages local contracts such as the Better Together outreach providers which help isolated citizens engage with services, organisations, activities and communities which may help to improve and maintain their overall health and wellbeing. The team focuses on the 10% most deprived communities within the city.

Previously to this Jon worked in community development and health with a local third sector organisation in the West for over ten years engaging disenfranchised communities such as prisoners and Irish travellers. 

The Leeds labs are important to me as a Public Health Officer because they cast a ray of light onto a problem I thought would be very hard to solve. It allowed me to work alongside a team to quickly take a potential social isolation solution to proof of concept without a huge financial outlay.

The labs signalled the arrival of an unusually informal setting where we could safely explore concepts with people who had completely different perspectives. This allowed me to transcend my normal patterns of thinking and widen my horizons. The experience stimulates and refreshes your intellectual lenses.

The sheer speed and pace of the labs enables the rapid formation and capture of concepts, in turn this allows the energy present in the room to be amplified and harnessed. There is no one in the room suggesting that a certain solution was wrong, just because we hadn't explored that line of thought before. This was due to place, rather than personality. The whole experience was very refreshing.

There is no hierarchy present in a Leeds Innovation Lab, and consequently people who may have not had an opportunity to share their thoughts before have the freedom to do so.

I was delighted to see the ideas up for approval critically and forensically deconstructed in the labs. This brought a rigour to the proceedings that inspired confidence. There were no world-weary sceptics or doubters in the room, only those wishing to explore cures for the isolated and chronically lonely.

The level of digital expertise was impressive and it had a universal, international and holistic flavour to it as we heard snippets of other projects from other places.

It wasn’t what I was expecting, and three years down the line we now have an idea we can touch and test, as well as benefits I had never ever anticipated. Best of all, there is a renewed and unexpected optimism in contributing to combating social isolation.