Design Council's Ella Britton explains how we selected the 25 ideas to fund as part of the next stage of the Knee High Design Challenge.

After 2 months of sharing the Knee High Design Challenge call for ideas with as many talented people as possible, we are delighted to announce that we received a total of 190 applications, more than any of our previous Design Challenges.

We were on tenterhooks as the applications came through on 30 September. It was a surreal feeling releasing (with every refresh of the page) that so many people wanted to be part of making a difference for children in Southwark and Lambeth. The elation oh-so-gradually turned to something else as we realised we had much bigger mountain to climb than we had anticipated.

Catherine and I spent the next 5 days carefully reading through every application in detail. The range of ideas and creativity on show was incredible, from a sleep aid in the shape of an owl, to camping experiences for dad’s in parks, from Musical Theatre that starts conversations about post natal depression, to a bus designed for the needs of children and their families.

It has been, sincerely, an absolute joy to read everyone’s ideas. The following week we met with our selection panel who take the responsibility for making the final decisions on who will receive funding at every stage of this process.

The panel includes: the Design Council project team and our Chief Design Officer Mat Hunter, plus our sponsor from Guys and St Thomas’ Charity, two members of the Southwark and Lambeth Public Health Directorate and two children’s services commissioners from the both local authorities. Together we had difficult task of choosing the 25 applications to take forward to the next stage.

We also met with our Advisory Board last week to review these choices and develop a plan for how we can get the most out of the next stage.

All 25 are now ready and raring to go. They will be spending the next 6 weeks rapidly prototyping their ideas with families and stakeholders, and building a more in-depth proposition for their ideas.

In early December we will be coming back together to make the choice on which 10-12 teams will be given funding to develop a proof of concept.

Here is a quick summary the 25 chosen ideas:

Tackling Isolation

Family Time Credits

Spice Innovations
Using a time currencies to inspire families.

Co-design Bus and bus service

Sara Tilley
Redesigning the bus interior and developing a new service to make it easier for families to access transport services.

High Street Baby Festival

Hugh Dames and London Early Years Foundation
A new high-street engagement initiative for bringing families, local businesses and children’s services together.

Kids Connect

Hannah White and Tracey Gilbert, local entrepreneurial mums
A fully indexed and interactive on-line directory of children’s services available through a smartphone app.

Pop-up parks

Tom Doust, Intelligent Space
Disrupting urban space and co-creating playful parks to encourage families leave the house.

Pop Out Champions

The Family and Childcare Trust
A peer-support service helping parents explore the facilities available to them locally.

Cook Collective

Jennie Winhall
A parent run healthy food take away.

Making the invisible visible

Mapping existing public and private resources for families and making them visible.

New Opportunities

The Stockwell Partnership and Brixton People’s Kitchen
Creating networking opportunities for families who are new to the UK.

Stimulating Development

Make, take & explore emporium

Explorer HQ, The Geography Collective, and City Farm
An interactive, choose-you-own adventure community centre where young families can relax, learn, and be inspired to explore.

Creative Homes

Tea Dance for Little People
A creative play service building families capabilities to use their home for the child’s development.

Play Box

Lambeth Council Children’s Services
A series of gift boxes to engage families in different stages of their child’s development.

Nurturing early character

Save the Children and Character Counts
Creating new tools to help families understand their child’s early character development.

Everyday Wonder

Crown Lane Primary School and Children Centre
Bringing the Children’s Centre to the streets.

Knee High wearables

Jen Lexmond and Cassie Robinson
Using digital technology in kids clothing to encourage play and boost interaction between parent and child.

Play Agency

Pan Studio
Making play happen in everyday life.

Playing up

Blue Elephant Theatre
Creative educational multi-sensory play for parents and children.

Alleviating anxiety

Apps for dads

Best Beginnings and St Michael’s Fellowship
Interactive apps for fathers, providing information, advice and support throughout pregnancy and the first six months.

Parent Parties

Deborah Szebeko and Dawn Murphy, entrepreneurial mums
A new parent-led networking service during pregnancy and beyond.

The Good Enough Mum’s Club Musical

The Good Enough Mum’s Club
Sharing stories of motherhood through musical theatre to inspire, empower and support parents health and wellbeing.


Sally Walker, an entrepreneurial nanny
An online service which allows the social network around a new parent to pledge their time and support during the first 40 days of a new baby.

Perinatal parental support

Southwark Mental Health Team
Transforming the prenatal mental health provision for both parents.

Now Moments

The Mental Health Foundation
Using video interaction guidance to transform early bonding of mother and child.

Me Time

Viridian Housing
An online platform that connects families to informal childcare within their housing estate.

Proper dads

A better experience of information to support a father’s transition into parenthood.

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