Fostering thriving communities to grow old in

How we designed a scalable community programme that was shortlisted for the RSA Student Design Awards

1. My role

I worked in a group with two other designers to tackle a design brief set by the Royal Society of Arts. My role was to plan design activities, to conduct and synthesise research and to lead on the development of a system-level proposal.

Skills utilised

  • 🕵️‍♂️ Research design and data analysis
  • 📐 Strategy design and evaluation
  • ✏️ Prototyping interventions
  • 👨‍💻 Proposal creation

2. The challenge

3. The approach

To investigate the problem, I conducted a literature review, trends analysis and root cause analysis.

I then carried out interviews with a diverse range of community leaders and community members. This informed the development of personas and a ‘futures’ scenario which were used to ideate interventions.

Opportunity analysis and idea generation

I then tested assumptions in the interventions with potential stakeholders in order to form a service proposal based on real needs.

To explore the implementation of our proposal, I used tools such as stakeholder analysis, the business model canvas and failure forecasting.

4. User research

I conducted interviews with a range of community members and community leaders. Participants were selected using a diversity matrix to ensure a broad spread according to their location, ethnicity, age, community role and living situation. Through uncovering their unique lived experiences, I was able to gain an understanding of the key issues from multiple perspectives.

Key findings

Opportunity analysis

How might we catalyse strong community connections to help citizens feel supported in their homes?

With members of our community being ever more isolated and time constrained it is important to provide a greater number of opportunities that are local and suit peoples’ schedules, interests and accessibility requirements. It takes time to get to know a community. People are often unaware of the opportunities around them, therefore won’t take part, resulting in further isolation. Creating convenient and accessible opportunities to socialise enables communities to come together and thrive.

5. Product-service-system proposal

Weave is a scalable programme that helps people feel supported throughout life through fostering sustainable community networks. Our interventions empower locals to seed and scale their own community clubs and projects, whilst making it simpler and more affordable for local people to join new groups and expand their social circles.

Key Innovations

Weave learns from the development model used by organisations such as Students’ Unions and deploys low and high-tech interventions to scale this up to a much broader audience. Anyone can apply to the accelerator scheme which radically simplifies the process of setting up a new community club or project. The Weave App also simplifies operations for groups; combining venue-booking, sales, relationship management and marketing features on one platform. The Weave App and Hubs provide citizens with a novel experience as all featured activities are non-profit and follow an integrated process, making it significantly simpler to find affordable activities, sign up to volunteer or raise a welfare concern. The Sponsorship scheme meanwhile helps to diversify the programme’s income and provides a novel way for companies both large and small to invest in employee welfare.

Theory of Change

Intervention strategy

Social, economic and environmental impacts

6. Outcome

Our project was shortlisted in the Royal Society of Arts Student Design Awards.

If you are interested in any of my work, feel free to get in touch with me at or connect on LinkedIn.



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Peter Waters

Peter Waters

Social designer and researcher with a focus on accelerating the transition to a more inclusive and sustainable society.