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, the City of Kwinana and a diverse team of local residents 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 all through our research and exploration, we’ve invited 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’ve been taking part in a number of workshops called ‘Living Labs’, where we've collectively explored and co-created new ideas that seek to address the issue of social connection in Kwinana.  

We are just over halfway through this project and the Kwinana Design Team have made some big strides in designing their solution. Fast forward three workshops, 122 ideas, 8 litres of coffee and more post-it notes than you could shake a stick, the team decided that they wanted to facilitate an intentionally-designed space for the exchange of kind gestures, mutual kindness and contribution. It had to be sustainable, affordable and scalable. Together, we explored 5 or 6 potential solutions that might serve as a springboard for further connection, whereby residents could begin to cultivate the small seedlings of friendship and contribute their skills to their local community (some of these ideas ranged from street-by-street market expos for local businesses to swap skills all the way to a universal ride share app that increased mobility)... before coming to the conclusion that an app would best serve all of these ideas... it could be the toolbox that combined all of their ideas together.

So, we left our third workshop together back in October, armed with a whole heap of awesome app features that might help people connect. We've engaged with an app designer, who over the festive period, is beavering away to bring this app to life.

The next stage in this process if, of course, to invite the Design Team and more local Kwinanians to test it. That's right, all the conversations, debates, ideas, and discussions that came out of those first three workshops is actually producing a real, tangible and useable thing that people can interact with, download, test and utilise. This app will be a participatory, accessible platform for residents to spark new connections, get to know their neighbours, develop a support system, find localised services or activities to attend, contribute their skills, and, we hope, will generally just help make Kwinana a more inclusive and accessible place to live.  

Our final two workshops for this project are booked in and we are so exciting to share a beta version with everyone. The details are:

- Wednesday 22nd January 2020 (9:30am-1pm)

Wednesday 5th February 2020 (9:30am - 1pm)

Both workshops will be held at Isabella Corker Wing (a part of Medina Hall).

If you're keen to join the Spark Design team, 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