Home and Belonging

The two-day Home and Belonging event, hosted by Life Changes Trust Care Experienced Young People Programme, was devised and facilitated by Open Change. It marked the launch and first stage of the £4m Home and Belonging Funding Initiative.

Home and Belonging provided an opportunity for those interested in applying to this fund, and those with a particular interest in this work to meet a wide range of people, build relationships and start to develop bold and radical proposal ideas. The key objective was to bring fresh perspectives to this area of work, and build new collaborations.

In preparation, Open Change built a website which would provide cohesive information about Home and Belonging as well as the Initiative, support participants throughout the 48 hours, and serve as a place to collate all documentation of the event. You can access it here.

The two days provided introduction to design thinking, with main focus on co-designing services. It brought together all those involved, or in any way interested in the Programme, and by covering a range of tools and methods of service design, it helped develop ideas which can be brought forward. Intermittent with Lightning Talks from a selection of inspirational speakers, the event aimed to inform, motivate, and do things differently, all the while enjoying the time spent there.


Day 1 welcomed 80 participants to the venue in heart of Dundee, with the purpose to understand better the experience of Care Experienced Young People, and to explore the benefits, as well as possible gaps, of the approach to the Funding Initiative. Emphasising the importance of collaboration, working together, and listening to all voices, groups for the event were carefully formed in an inclusive and diverse way.

The first day saw introductions of the hosts, the team of facilitators and helpers, and the participants themselves. 4 inspirational talks were spread across the day, which participants assessed as ‘a great mix of inspirational speakers and practical tasks’, and further highlighted that it helped to ‘hold attention’.

The talks started with Ewan Aitken, CEO of The Cyrenians, who spoke about the role of food in creating the sense of home and belonging, followed by Chris Kilkenny, public speaker and campaigner, who bravely shared a moving, personal journey with the room. ‘The difference between hope and hopelessness for a young person is just that one person who cares.’


Dave Close, Executive Director of Hot Chocolate Trust based in Dundee, explained how they believed it was important to provide opportunities for Young People to make decisions themselves, rather than just organising things for them.

Last of the day on stage was Graham Leicester, Co-Founder and Director of International Futures Forum, who emphasised the need not to be afraid of failing. ‘Transformative change takes time and to begin with, it can feel like failure.’

Main focus of the first day was theme identification, where groups were using methods introduced to them by an expert team from Open Change, in order to define some of the key problems, which were subsequently narrowed down, prioritised, and the chosen ones would be getting refined. Some of the emergent themes included Being Radical, Love, or System Change.


Elaine Cochran from Cornerstone who provide individualised care and support to over 2,000 people, started off the second day of Home and Belonging with a powerful talk that inspired Home and Belonging participants for the day ahead. The morning was filled with more expert inputs on service design methods, such as personas, prototyping, and videoing as a research tool. You can read more about how those tools can be used on a page of resources we compiled.

Over the afternoon, teams moved onto the final stage of refining their projects, focusing on physical prototypes which each of the groups presented at the end of the day. The intention behind those projects was creating such outputs, that could be taken forward after the event. Successful achievement of that was confirmed by participants saying they would continue ‘re-designing my and prototyping [the] current work project.’ Some participants also intended to ‘contact other projects to work together.’


You can follow chronological developments of both days in our Wakelets here, and a video of the event will become available shortly at our Youtube Channel www.bit.ly/HomeandBelong.

Some of the feedback participants of Home and Belonging have given:

I liked how different the activities were and the passion of the team of facilitators.

I liked meeting new people, networking and collaborating.

I liked being challenged to think about things differently.

I liked the involvement of the young people.

I liked the energy in the room, and the structure of the two days.

I liked having the opportunity to explore an idea in depth.

I learned a lot about care experienced young people and the problems they face. But people do want change! And it will happen!

Tomorrow I will feedback to the CEO and arrange meeting with social work.

Tomorrow I will speak with young people and let them brainstorm ideas.

I’ve been to many Funding events as a Care Experienced Young Person, and not that many changes have been made. But I want to say thanks to everyone here, because it feels good to know, that people do care.

It’s been inspirational and creative…now to get planning.


Find all details at https://mikepressuk.wixsite.com/home-and-belonging

Follow us on Twitter @HomeandBelong and browse the hashtag #HomeandBelong

Watch video documentation of the event at www.bit.ly/HomeandBelong


Photography by Erika Stevenson.

Post by Open Change Junior Associate Barbara Mertlova.