Shifting Volunteer Systems Futures with Co-Design in Wales

The Sensemaking meetup is Systems Change Finland’s monthly meetup where we explore topics related to applied Systems Thinking and Complexity with interesting speakers. Instead of being one-sided lectures, our meetups are spaces where participants can also make sense about the topics with each other.

In January’s meet-up on Wednesday 26.01.2022 with about 35 participants the discussion was ignited by Eloise Smith-Foster (Linkedin, Twitter, Medium), a Climate Justice Activist and award-winning Senior Service Designer working at the UK branch of Nordic consultancy Futurice. From a systems change perspective, Eloise spoke about the participatory foresight process applied to a nationwide ‘Voluntary Sector Futures’ visioning initiative and report she led in partnership with with Tom Castle from Futurice, Suzanne Iuppa and Anna Nicholl from WCVA (the Wales Council for Voluntary Action).

Eloise’s professional portfolio includes national and international projects co-creating more resilient futures for organisations across industries: from finance, retail and agriculture to public healthcare, volunteering and social housing. With a Master of European Design from the Glasgow School of Art, Aalto University and KISD University, as well as professional experience at Hellon and the Service Design Network in Germany, Eloise brings intercultural design experience from across Europe. At Futurice she facilitates partners to radically rethink their organisations’ vision and culture, and implement more sustainable strategies, services and digital products.

Eloise is currently integrating more equitable, system-change practices and regenerative futurist methodologies in her work at Futurice. She utilises climate and social justice insight gained through her varied voluntary roles with UK activist groups, including as a trained non-violent de-escalator, organiser, regenerative culture advocate and social media communications lead. In her presentation, Eloise made an interesting comparison between human-centred design with activism and systems change.

The ‘Voluntary Sector Futures’ report documenting the progressive vision and process was launched in January 2022.

You can access it here:

To support the work the team also developed the WCVA Toolkit to support the community level:

And for a national view they used Futurice’s Lean Futures Creation Toolkit:

The vision and strategy explore the role of the voluntary sector in transitioning Wales to a more equitable, green, caring and community-oriented society by 2030. The vision, actions and seeds of change were co-designed with support of the Third Sector Support Wales (TSSW), the Future Generations Commissioner and the Welsh government, as well as over 80 members of the public, private and voluntary sectors across the country.

The ‘Voluntary Sector Futures’ vision influenced the national 5-year strategy of the WCVA, and outcomes have gone from strength to strength since the initiative began in April 2021. New networks and collaborations across the voluntary sector in Wales have been successfully initiated to progress the strategy and vision. In this session, Eloise reflected on the methodology, key learnings and impact of this work through a systemic lens.

Also make sure to check out the sketchnote Jaakko Porokuokka made of the event. Thanks, Jaakko!

Sketchnote by Jaakko Porokuokka (@jaaporo)



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Systems Change Finland seeks to cultivate a society that can deal with systemic and complex challenges. The purpose of Systems Change Finland is to promote the application of approaches that help people, organizations and society understand and work with systems and complexity.

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Mikael Seppälä

Mikael Seppälä


📈 Project Manager #InnovationManagement & #Ecosystems @LaureaUAS | ⚡️ @systemschangefi #SystemsChange | 🔥 #SystemsThinking #Complexity