Blog

What we are learning after seven weeks of innovating and adapting to life in lockdown

Stephanie Papapavlou
Tuesday 12th May 2020
‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ – Plato

My mum used to say this to me a lot when I was growing up, usually when she couldn’t find the right tool for something she had wanted to do and created a solution out of thin air – whether it was the right screwdriver replaced by a knife edge, cold and flu tablets replaced by swallowing chopped raw garlic or a lack of sticky tape for wrapping a present replaced by an elegant series of paper folds." data-share-imageurl="">

Stephanie Papapavlou (Director of Impact and Innovation) shares Leap’s journey of adapting and adjusting our delivery during lockdown. Read on to learn more about the process and guiding principles that shaped our digital support for young people and adult professionals during social distancing measures.

‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ – Plato

My mum used to say this to me a lot when I was growing up, usually when she couldn’t find the right tool for something she had wanted to do and created a solution out of thin air – whether it was the right screwdriver replaced by a knife edge, cold and flu tablets replaced by swallowing chopped raw garlic or a lack of sticky tape for wrapping a present replaced by an elegant series of paper folds. There was a sense of pride around solving the problem as well as in the new creation, even if it were just for the moment.

In 2020 the whole world has been forced to innovate. During a crisis there are no alternatives. From 3D printing of PPE for hospitals to the humble pub quiz becoming a weekly, home-grown zoom staple for connecting families and friends.

As an organisation whose main offer is physical group training, our biggest necessity in lockdown was to figure out how to work with young people and adults at a time they need it most, without being able to be in the same space! We had tried digital approaches before, such as e-learning and video instruction. These took time, money and ultimately didn’t deliver a product that we were satisfied with. When Coronavirus hit we could have given up, saying – ‘this is not what we do’, but instead we got creative, and let necessity drive innovation.

I have spoken to many organisations that have had digital ‘on the agenda’, always de-prioritised and planned to take place over months or years with large investments of money. Now innovation is happening in weeks on a shoestring budget to great effect. As much as it’s a difficult time, there are incredible achievements that can be made in this period that we never would have imagined 6 months ago. I am lucky to work with a fantastic team at Leap who knew that messages about handling conflict, managing emotions and resilience were core to our work and essential during this period.

Below is a narrative of our innovation journey over the last few weeks, followed by six tips. As different people learn in different ways, I have given both.

I hope this is useful for you, whether you are a young person thinking about your goals or personal life in this period, or an organisation in a similar place to Leap, and I hope that like my mum you can have a sense of creativity and pride in finding creative and innovative solutions!  

The Narrative

When lockdown began, we quickly moved to support the young people and partners we were connected with, asking them about their needs in this time. This gave us a great foundation to inform any development. Listening to those we are seeking to support is a central and ongoing activity as needs continue to arise and change.

When determining how to address these needs we looked for training and non-training solutions. The problem question was not defined as ‘how do we adapt our training’ but broadened to ‘how do we communicate our message to our target groups at this time?’. This included quick wins through a ‘conflict at home’ gif series on social media, to print solutions for those in prison.

We brought together a person from every team in the organisation to focus on our training innovation, breaking down silos. We identified what we needed to understand as foundations before developing ‘products’. Different areas developed at different paces, but all learning was shared, both within the smaller team and back to their own teams. The foundations we wanted to understand were:

  1. What sets Leap training apart? What’s unique about our offers?
  2. What does safety/safeguarding look like online?
  3. What is digital best practice more generally?
  4. What platforms could we potentially use?
  5. Can our concepts be delivered online? What does that look like in a 1:1 or a group?
  6. How would we evaluate this and what are we measuring?

Working in teams we answered these questions within two weeks. The learning generated formed one document as a foundation for our digital adaptation. We began creating and iterating. We used arising opportunities with willing partners and created internal opportunities to test concepts quickly, for example, having a group of 5 staff on a call with one of our trainers testing virtual games. Once we started developing core training areas, we have tested these internally before rolling out to other organisations. Leap staff are excellent critical friends, and our staff and trainers have been open to constructive criticism and suggestion. In innovation we learn the most when things go wrong rather than going right, and we have made ‘failure’ a friend and teacher. At the same time testing internally means that trainers and staff gained an understanding of what the product looks like, creating buy in where there was resistance and understanding for their roles, from fundraising to delivery.

We have maintained open relationships with partners and the sector. There is so much learning to be shared, and we have been learning from others as well as sharing our learning. This has been through experience (participation in digital sprints the My Best Life project showed us how Miro and zoom can be used together, which we have used for the creation of our interim theory of change), participation (being a part of the UK youth network has given countless documents, best practice guides and inspiration) or personal connections (a number of organisations have reached out to Leap and I have met with them 1:1 to share our experience and talk about their digital adaptation).

It’s been intense, a lot of fun and a lot of work – and it’s certainly not over. If you would like to talk about your innovation journey, feel free to comment below or reach out and connect!

TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read). Here are six tips:

 

 

We have developed a five-week online course for adult professionals. Each workshop lasts for up to two hours and supports adult professionals – youth workers, parents, mentors or coaches - to gain new skills and perspectives to managing conflict in their daily lives and at work during the current crisis. If you are interested in accessing and learning more, please contact Bethany.Roberts@leapcc.org.uk.

More news & blogs

News

Transition Resource for Year 6/7 Pupils

By Alex McKell - Innovation Manager
Monday 27th July 2020
Blog

How do we effectively support vulnerable young people at risk of serious violent crime? In conversation with Jon Yates

By Alicia Edmund, Senior Communications and Policy Officer
Wednesday 1st July 2020
News

Put children and young people at the heart of coronavirus recovery

By Income and External Affairs Team
Tuesday 30th June 2020
News

Influencing policy, practice and ideas

By Ben Kernighan, Chief Executive
Tuesday 30th June 2020
News

Reflect, Connect & Direct: Reflection Pack for Prisoners

By Madeleine Weaver - Communications & Policy Officer
Tuesday 23rd June 2020
News

Leap's commitment to combatting racism

By Ben Kernighan, Chief Executive
Thursday 18th June 2020
Blog

Part 2: What does it mean to be trauma-informed in a post Covid-19 society?

By Sam Matthews, Director of Delivery
Monday 8th June 2020

Sign up for our latest news