The importance of ‘Good Design’ – finding a creative social enterprise
By Sophia Luu, MA student in Art and Science at Central Saint Martins
It can be so easy to get caught up in projects and assignments that we forget our creative skills can be use to do good in the real world. This is why I started ‘on the mend’, a collective of designers wishing to use their skills to make a positive impact in healthcare and wellbeing spaces.
Branding the group was tricky – we wanted a name which would highlight our work in healthcare environments but was also open to work in wellbeing situations too. Hence ‘on the mend’, both a pun on getting better and on us improving environments, was born.
Our debut was at the Tate Exchange, and we decided we wanted to focus on Loneliness. Loneliness is a national health crisis. 1/3 of older people experience loneliness. The second largest group likely to feel lonely are 21-35 year olds. In 2017, Theresa May appointed a Minister for Loneliness, following the Jo Cox report on loneliness in 2017. We wanted to show that there is always a small thing you can do to combat loneliness and created an invent which invited members of the public to write letters to those in long term health care.
The success of the event is a testament to how much this kind of design work is needed, and how much of an impact it can have on people’s daily lives.
14 designers volunteered their time to make the event happen, with two architecture students helping to make the pop up. We decided to make a pop-up for the event, which would encourage members of the public to have a chance to sit and chat together. The money from UAL’s postgraduate community allowed this to happen, and paid for wood and workshop space for us to build the pop up. Unlike most pop ups, which take months to design and build – we conceived and made ours in 3 days. There was a lot of dedication and energy behind this event to make sure we could launch effectively after only 2 months of being together as a collective!
The postcards for the letters were designed to fit together in a continuous pattern. We wanted to evoke a feeling of being ‘part of the bigger picture’ – that everyone feels lonely sometimes. The letters were designed so that members of the public could respond in pictures or in writing to prompt questions, creating interesting points of conversation.
You don’t need to be a doctor or a minister to help combat loneliness. Donating a bit of time goes a long way. We’ve set up the Ministry of Loneliness to bring loneliness into the public conversation. Over 700 people came to the event, and we gained 300 letters in total. We are now collaborating with London Secondary Schools to get even more letters!
There has been an overwhelmingly positive response and we have appointments to distribute the letters at homeless shelters and care-homes in the next few weeks. We are incredibly humbled by the turnout. We hope to reuse the pop up in town centres and public venues across the UK, to raise awareness and show people that there are small ways they can help to combat loneliness.
Get in touch!
The Ministry of Loneliness @ Tate Exchange
On the Mend received funding from the Post-Grad Community Project Fund
The Post-Grad Community Project Fund makes funds available to UAL postgraduate students (both taught and reserach) to organise events, projects and cultural interventions that bring together postgraduate students from different disciplines, courses and colleges. There are deadlines each term.