Current Projects To Nurture Community Life, Enhance Understanding And Advance Connections

Taking an innovative approach to community connectedness through collaborative projects with service organisations, local government and residents

Social connectedness is at the core of community development. It's woven into the fabric of our collective identity, our contributions to one another and our inclusion in civic life. To achieve this, we need to work towards changing perceptions and behaviours around the roles of individuals to work towards a movement of togetherness at both a grassroots and systemic level. This means collaborating with everyone within the community; service organisations, local government and residents alike. In working creatively together, we can design solutions that inch us ever-closer to our collective vision of a healthy, resilient and welcoming society where everyone's contributions are celebrated and valued. Innovation starts with curiosity, permission and the right incentives. Our methodology relies on economic rigour complemented by historical imagination, empathy, intuition and flair.

Spark - Designed by the community, for the community

We believe that it’s often the small gestures that have the biggest impact on our community and that everyone has the capacity to make valued contributions as friends, neighbours and fellow citizens. It’s this mutual exchange of kindness that keeps the world going around. Befriend is working in partnership with UWA, Identitywa and the City of Kwinana to co-create a solution that sparks social connections through the mutual exchange of everyday tasks, skills and knowledge. We’ve called this creative project ‘Spark’.

Using a Human-Centered Design Thinking process to guide us through our research, experiments and evaluations, we’re inviting residents of Kwinana to come on this journey with us as we believe the best people to design for the community are people from the community. Together, we’ll be taking part in a number of workshops called ‘Living Labs’, where we can collectively explore and co-create new ideas that seek to address the issue of social connection in Kwinana, before prototyping, testing and evaluating its success within the community through participation. 

We’re just starting out at the very beginning of this design process, so of course, we have no idea what form Spark might end up taking. What we hope is that by facilitating an intentionally-designed space for the exchange of kind gestures, users can begin to cultivate the small seedlings of friendship and ignite a connection.

For example, picking up a loaf of bread for your neighbour on your way home from the store isn’t just a nice thing to do; it’s an opportunity to form a new connection, especially if the recipient responds in kind with an offer to walk your dog for you the following week. Or perhaps you know how to paint with watercolours and you share this skill with a fellow Spark user who in turn, gives you French cooking lessons. Not only are you being a participatory member of your community but you’re also broadening your social network with each meeting, playing a valued role and investing in meaningful, mutual relationships.

We believe that every single human on the planet should be a valued contributor in their local neighbourhood and we hope that Spark can create a space for people to learn this firsthand.

This project is about to launch into the world and our the first three of our five Living Lab workshops are booked in and ready to go! Our first two workshops are being held at John Wellard Community Centre on the following days:

Tuesday 8th October 2019 (9:30am-1pm)

Wednesday 16th October 2019 (9:30am - 1pm)

Our third and final workshop for 2019 is being held at Isabella Corker Wing, Medina Hall on:

- Wednesday 23rd October 2019 (9:30am - 1pm)

The last two workshops are being held in January/February, once we've created a prototype of the design. We'll book them nearer the time. 

If you're keen to join us, then please click below for more information!

I want to join the Spark team!


This project is an NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) initiative.

Redesigning a new learning solution for the support sector

Befriend is undertaking a design thinking process to identify and explore potential new solutions that will increase the confidence and capacity of support workers to be great community connectors. Training workshops and consulting is already a core dimension of our work and is one of the many ways we create impact; working with organisations who support people who are potentially more vulnerable to social isolation than anyone else in our community, deepening their understanding on how they can become more than a 'paid friend' and instead become someone who makes a huge difference in someone's life, long after their shift is over or they've moved on from the position. We see this as an invaluable step in working towards our mission of an inclusive, connected Perth.

More recently, there have been some key changes to the funding structures within the NDIS that affect how flexible community sector staff can be with the time they spend up-skilling, in classrooms, workshops and conferences. For support workers, this means less time out of the field and learning about new topics; for training managers, this means prioritising what their staff really need additional support in, and for us here at Befriend, this means potential changes on the horizon with how we might package and deliver some of our training and consulting services. An important question for us right now is; how might we continue to create impact, sharing our learnings about social inclusion to staff in paid positions who really have the potential to influence the quantity and quality of someone's social life?

So, with support from Lotterywest and community organisations all around Perth, Befriend is leading a design thinking process to identify alternative learning mechanisms that sit outside of the traditional 'workshop/classroom' environment. By collaborating with the very people affected by these NDIS funding changes, we can confidently identify and explore one - or more - solutions that could enable support staff to continue their professional development in a way suits all stakeholders.

This project has three key outcomes:

1. To identify and explore a solution that develops the confidence and capabilities of support workers to help the individuals they support to build deep and meaningful relationships within the community

2. To provide learnings and examples (beyond our own mission of social connection) of how learning and development solutions could look in the context of the NDIS

3. To demonstrate how to use a service design process to address challenges and develop relevant and practical solutions within the disability sector

To ensure we maximise our understanding of the potential barriers, desires, preferences and requirements within the disability sector, we are looking to speak with as many sector staff as possible, particularly in this first stage (which is all about getting to know the people we are designing for).

We will be sharing our journey as we move through each stage of the design-thinking process as we think this project will not only benefit us here at Befriend to explore new ways of building capacities in connection, but it’s a great exercise in using a design-thinking to solve complex challenges. So, if you're keen to find out more or you've been asked to contribute, collaborate and join us at a particular stage of this project by either Katie or Nick from Befriend, then please click the button below! 

We hope you'll join us on this journey.


Learning with Neighbourhood Centres

Linkwest (the peak body for Neighbourhood and Community Resource Centres in WA) and Befriend have partnered under our common goal of sparking connected, inclusive communities. We are working with Neighbourhood Centres in the Perth metropolitan area* to provide a space for conversations and collaboration in a range of formats that can be picked to suit the needs and interests of Centres and their staff. The aim of these sessions is to facilitate conversations and activities that produce ideas and actions for Centres to continue engaging with and supporting diverse members in their community. 

Neighbourhood Centres play an extremely valuable role as a connector and meeting place in their community. Whilst each Centre is diverse in activities and those who use it, the common link between them is the unwavering passion and drive to support their community. Befriend has gained valuable insights from a survey, conversations and visits to Centres. These voices have informed the topics and the style of the learning sessions, all of which aim to add to the immense sense of community existing at each Centre.  The topics on offer are:

1.1 Who do you wish was walking through your door?

1.2 How to create a space where everyone can contribute

2.1 Coming together to spread the word of your Centre 

2.2 How to help others feel more connected to your Centre

This project is an NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) initiative.

*Regionally based Neighbourhood and Community Resource Centres will have the opportunity to participate in this project through online formats.

If you are associated with a Linkwest Neighbourhood Centre, please click the button below for more information and to find out how you can get these sessions happening at your Centre!

Learn more about this project