Last week the Leapfrog team led an insightful and creative ideation workshop with a group of 12 representatives from social enterprises and service providers who seek to tackle loneliness and isolation in the Highlands of Scotland. The aim of the workshop was to co-​design a set of tools that could support and enhance the participants’ current practices, with the objective of developing content for these tools through sharing their collective expert knowledge. 

The idea of co-​designing card-​based games, a concept developed earlier by a number of the participants during a scooping session, provided the team with an initial brief for the over-​arching design of the workshop. As a warm-​up activity for the workshop, we used a set of ‘High Five’ playing cards, a tool developed to instigate a conversation about current processes and tease out advice on best practice. Five cards were given out to each participant upon arrival, and on each card, they were asked to write a piece of advice for tackling loneliness and isolation. 

With their filled in High Five cards in hand, the participants gathered to play the first activity: ‘Put your Cards on the Table’, a casino-​style Roulette game. As the High Five cards were randomly numbered on the back, numbers were picked from a hat and the participant with the corresponding numbered card read out their piece of advice to the group and then placed it on the board. Time between each card was given for questions, comments and debate, and thematic chips were used as a way of grouping insights together. These included networks chips, challenge chips, success chips and tool chips. Blank chips were also provided for additional themes as they developed throughout the conversation. Some key themes that emerged included: dealing with different kinds of transitions in life; how to publicise services and network effectively across services and between users of the services; the pragmatic and logistical nature of service providers’ practices; the highly empathetic dimension of their practice; and the case study examples of successful projects. 

For the second activity, ‘Play and Say’, we asked the participants to get into small groups of 3 or 4 and spend time playing different kinds of card games. This included classic playing cards, Old Maid, Happy Families, Top Trumps, Uno, Monopoly playing cards, Pokémon cards, and reading Tarrot cards. The aim here was to think about each set of cards beyond simply the rules, and to question the design, attributes and principles of the cards. 

Remaining in the same groups, the final activity, ‘Gamify’, asked the participants to design their own set of cards based on the insights collected in the first and second activities. From this, 3 interesting tool ideas were generated, which were each presented back to the group at the end. The first idea looked at how to have conversations around recognising loneliness. The second used the analogy of a bee hive as a way of visualising the wider service. The third idea looked at how to help someone overcome potential barriers when planning for an upcoming event. The next steps for us will be to develop these ideas into prototypes that we will send back to the participants for evaluation, where they will be encouraged to test them out and provide the team with feedback.