Walk in Our Shoes – we dare you

We often advocate for the use of ethnographic research methods, as a powerful way of engaging immersively with people’s real lives, in order to design systems that make for great lives. It’s therefore been a real privilege to work with Croydon Council, who commissioned us to help them better understand the lives, aspirations and needs of people with learning disabilities, and the family members who love and care for them. If ever there were voices that are rarely heard and need to be amplified, it is these.

We can tell you what we learnt from immersive listening to people with learning disabilities. At a top level, we learnt that they:

  • see themselves as contributors, not as people ‘in need’
  • want to be recognised and acknowledged; to have their views listened to and respected
  • need opportunities to develop and maintain a healthy social network
  • want to be treated as individuals
  • need opportunities to try new and different things, with the right support; to be able to pursue their passions and apply their skills
  • want full access to the community
  • can adapt and accept things if change is necessary, but the process needs to be handled respectfully and people must be involved.

But do you know what? We’d much rather you listened to people directly. So working with our favourite collaborators, the wonderful Ed and Kate from Postcode Films, we made this film, featuring the amazing people of Croydon.

Here’s their challenge: WALK IN OUR SHOES. We dare you. Hear us. Learn from us…

Our full written report – Walk in Our Shoes – provides system leaders everywhere with challenge and inspiration in equal measure. We showcase outstanding practice from around the world, and offer some design principles for radically different and better.

We are excited and impressed by the care Croydon Council is taking to respond and to plan next steps in partnership with people. They are recognising that they will need to learn to work quite differently if this new dialogue is to mature into a relationship that is genuinely coproductive. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

As we have said before:

Prepare to be wrong, prepare to be moved, prepare to do something different as a result of what you learn….

Ruth Kennedy