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Social Design Institute to collaborate on research targeting vaccine hesitancy and youth violence

2 female students preparing for an exhibition, one holds a measuring tape, and in the background there are plywood walls and surfaces. There are 2 posters on one of the plywood walls
2 female students preparing for an exhibition, one holds a measuring tape, and in the background there are plywood walls and surfaces. There are 2 posters on one of the plywood walls
Students preparing for an exhibition, BA Graphic Communication Design CSM © Alys Tomlinson
Written by
Cat Cooper
Published date
04 February 2021

UAL Social Design Institute recently launched a cross-UAL Seed Fund initiative, to support ideas for small-scale social design and design for sustainability projects from across UAL.

The Institute has now announced the 3 design research proposals to be taken forward this year. Each of the projects will work with London communities or Councils, to co-create solutions to local issues around COVID-19 immunisation, knife crime and youth violence:

  • Countering the disinformation machine: public engagement with Southwark Council’s COVID-19 immunisation strategy - Led by Dr Danah Abdulla, Programme Director of Graphic Design at UAL's Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon Colleges
  • Confronting vaccine hesitancy - Led by Dr Silvia Grimaldi, Course Leader, MA Service Design at London College of Communication and Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Pharma Factory research project
  • How can youth-oriented co-design of information materials change attitudes towards tackling gang culture, violence and knife crime? - Led by Val Palmer,  Assistant International Academic Coordinator, International Development at Central Saint Martins and Research Associate with the UAL Design Against Crime Research Centre
We were excited and inspired by the response from across the Colleges to our first Seed Fund Award. The 3 selected projects use design research to tackle critical questions of our day - namely the vaccine hesitancy in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and youth violence and knife crime. We were particularly impressed by the awardees' emphasis on strategic community engagement - in particular BAME representation - and their commitment to using the funds to work with us to build upon existing relationships, sowing the seeds of future collaboration

— Lucy Kimbell, Social Design Institute Director and UAL Professor of Contemporary Design Practices

The projects in more detail:

Countering the disinformation machine: Public engagement with Southwark Council’s COVID-19 immunisation strategy

Led by Dr Danah Abdulla and working alongside Dr Hena Ali (Senior Lecturer, BA Graphic Design, CCW), Camberwell BA Graphic Design students, Southwark Council and local community leaders, this research project will work to understand public perceptions of Coronavirus and the COVID-19 vaccine – so it can inform the design of better public messaging and strategies for immunisation uptake. Misinformation and mixed-messaging has damaged public understanding of the virus and people’s trust in the health guidance throughout the pandemic, particularly within BAME communities. This project will investigate how we can design interventions to close the communication gap between Southwark Council and the public; reduce the myths around COVID-19 and the vaccine; and promote effective engagement with the Council’s immunisation strategy.

Countering vaccine hesitancy

Led by Dr Silvia Grimaldi, this project will investigate 3 factors contributing to vaccine hesitancy: thoughts and feelings about the vaccine; social processes and pressure; and practical issues with service delivery. The research team will set out to understand how these factors are manifested and their impact upon service delivery. They will do this through interviews, co-design workshops and a design sprint with healthcare workers, service providers, and the general public. With this insight, it will be possible to come up with alternative service or communication models to improve vaccine take-up and make practical policy recommendations for the future.

How can youth-oriented co-design of information materials change attitudes towards tackling gang culture, violence and knife crime?

Led by Val Palmer, this project looks to reach young people in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham who are at risk of being lured into gang culture, violence and crime. Working with social youth organisation BoxUpCrime and UAL design graduates, the project team will bring local young people on board to co-design and produce a visual toolkit (including printed material, apps and video) to make vulnerable young people in the area aware of the support available and feel encouraged to access it. The project will also explore the potential to develop a social enterprise focused on the design and marketing of Box Up Crime’s evolving sportswear brand.

About the 2021 Seed Fund awards

The Social Design Institute team will work with the UAL colleagues and teams leading each project to co-develop the research work over the next 6 months, with the aim of delivering the projects by the end of July. This initiative is supported by AKO Foundation.

The A total of 17 entries were received covering 3 themes:

  • Design for sustainable, equitable systems
  • Addressing youth violence / knife crime
  • Enabling the rapid take up of Covid-19 vaccinations

The selection panel were: Lucy Kimbell and Louise Ingledow (Social Design Institute), Professor Becky Earley (UAL Centre for Circular Design), Professor Lorraine Gamman (UAL Design Against Crime Research Centre) and Sarah Mann (Head of Social Innovation at Design Council).