An ambitious project is under way to tackle health inequalities on the Cambridge Road estate in Kingston, Surrey, through research-based design.
Public-sector design specialist Think Public was appointed directly in May by Kingston Primary Care Trust to identify the key challenges to living ‘happy’ and ‘healthy’ lifestyles in the area.
The consultancy’s response is You Can Kingston, a project which looks to engage the community by setting up a text message feedback service, triggered by guerrilla murals (pictured) which have already started to appear on the estate.
This project, along with interviews with residents and a ‘design activity’ day on 18 July, is part of a research programme undertaken to inform Kingston PCT’s plans for future health services in the area.
Suggestions from the text message experiment will be aggregated and then fed back to residents on 18 July, when they will also be given the chance to design their own solutions.
‘Kingston PCT wants to be able to spend money locally and develop health services by pushing business proposals to NHS London,’ says Paul Thurston, head of design at Think Public.
Think Public was awarded the contract in tandem with the Young Foundation, a research group which will deliver the results of Think Public’s project, in the hope of developing a business proposal to change the way money is spent locally.
At the beginning of the consultation process in May, residents were consulted on the naming and identity of the You Can project through steering group meetings held by Think Public.
Thurston says local residents have ‘reacted well’ to the programme. He says, ‘There have been attempts to improve things before, but residents weren’t consulted properly.’
It is expected that the project will trigger other social improvements in the area.
‘One of the most important things for the residents is the availability of green space, and although that’s a housing office issue, it does have an impact on health,’ Thurston says.