We developed Voidstarter after many years of working on social innovation projects involving the use of empty spaces, community based education and social design. We were concerned about the negative impact that void properties have on people and communities and wanted to see if we could do something positive to address the problem.
Voidstarter was one of three winners of the European Social Innovation Competition 2014 along with an urban farm project from Belgium and a textile recycling project from Italy. The competition invited people to come up with new solutions to reduce unemployment and received over 1200 entries from across Europe.
Laura is a project co-ordinator, trainer and community outreach worker who works with community groups, public services and third sector organisations. In a previous life she was a set designer for theatre, which is how she developed an interest in the creative use of empty spaces. She was co-director of Ark-Lab, a social design agency which works with councils and other organisations on projects around public participation and engagement and the co-design of services. Laura has co-ordinated a number of community based education projects including Digital Inclusion projects for Communities 2.0 and Trade School Cardiff
Simon is a design researcher and social design practitioner. His past experience includes working as Senior Researcher at the Ecodesign Centre and co-director of social design agency Ark Lab. Simon is currently a post-doctoral research fellow with the Environmental Protection Agengy and is studying policy interventions for sustainable behaviour change. He has led and collaborated on projects funded by the European Commission (FP7 and Interreg), National Governments and industry associations and has been an external evaluator for ERDF and Horizon 2020 funding programmes.