Leapfrog – transforming public sector consultation by design is a £1.2 million 3 year Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project. The Leapfrog project will be a close collaboration with public sector and community partners to design and evaluate new approaches to consultation.
Consultation, the engagement of communities in public service decision making becoming an increasingly important part of local and regional life with moves to help communities be more active and connected to their wider environment. This encouragement of ground up activity reflects a groundswell of new community, friends and special interests groups forming across the UK. Clearly new consultation practices are needed to accommodate both the opportunity presented by the demand for more consultation and a quite different funding landscape. Partnering with The Institute of Design Innovation at the Glasgow School of Art, Leapfrog will help create and evaluate these new models, 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 hard to engage, e.g with low rates of English literacy. The Highlands and Islands communities are very geographically dispersed and isolated and are strongly motivated to innovate by the hardships they face in terms of communications and access. Working across these two locations will stress test our new consultation approaches and help 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 fit their own needs. Tools could be physical, digital downloaded and printed or entirely digital in nature. We will use these tools to develop toolboxes containing a themed set of tools (e.g. consultation without writing for groups with low levels of English literacy). We will produce at least 50 of each of the 5 toolboxes will produce. We will seed these toolboxes in at least 80 communities and public sector bodies across the UK. 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 and create their own amazing consultation processes.