Levelling up north of England for rural youth: co-design possibilities and challenges

Laura Wareing, Nick Dunn, Paul A. Rodgers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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This paper explores how co-design approaches contribute to support, learning and work opportunities for young people who are socially and economically disadvantaged because of where they live in the UK. The paper presents a project in which an arts organisation and groups of young people living in three rural areas in the North of England came together in a series of workshops to explore and co-design interventions to improve access to and generate new opportunities for rural youth. The findings highlight how the co-design approach delivered benefits to the young people, the arts organisation and local communities, despite disruption from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The design outcomes included new networks, youth spaces, paid work for the young people and this work helped transform the arts organisation's practice. The design-led and place-based co-design approach empowered the young people, broadened their awareness of rural opportunities, shifted views on living and working rurally, increased confidence in abilities, developed skills, and created informal career guidance spaces. The paper advocates for design research to address place-based socio-economic inequalities, therefore "levelling up" or rebalancing the learning, support and work opportunities for young people and investing through collaborative design approach.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2021
Event14th European Academy of Design (EAD) International Conference: Safe Harbours for Design Research - Zoom
Duration: 11 Oct 202116 Oct 2021
Conference number: 14


Conference14th European Academy of Design (EAD) International Conference
Abbreviated titleEAD2021


  • collaborative activities
  • co-design
  • rural communities


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