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The difference a year can make – what happed to us as a consequence of U Lab

Posted June 29th 2016 by Outside the

Last summer I went along to the first ‘find out about U Lab’ session in Edinburgh.  It sounded like the sort of thing that Outside the Box wanted to do.  I’m glad I went.  U Lab has turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and farthest-reaching things we have done since we began 12 years ago.

What we did

We hosted a small hub with a few people from other organisations, especially Neighbourhood Networks. Sharing reflections helped us make the links between the ideas from the programme and our own situation.  We shared what we did and feedback from others was a positive part of the process.

In Outside the Box we chose to look at how communities could work better for older people for the focus of our U Lab conversations. This led to good ideas, which we have been following up. Read about our U Lab journey.

What has happened

These new opportunities are becoming real.

  • We have now started on the development stage of what we hope with be a major 4-5 year programme looking at how older people shape rural communities – being active contributors as well as getting the support they need to be part of the community.  It is in partnership with other people across the UK.  We are the organisation co-ordinating it and holding the grant from Big Lottery Fund.
  • This is now putting us in contact with the Scottish parts of other UK-wide projects on aspects of innovative responses as part of the Big Lottery Fund Ageing and Society programme.  We’re also getting good help from teams in Scottish Government on both the rural policy and care and support contexts.  Just like U Lab, there are lots of conversations that start with different questions, bring different combinations of people together and lead to more innovative solutions.
  • We took the U Lab approach and invited people to come along to information discussions about how services and community support work for older people who have mental health problems.  That led to a successful application under the Equalities Fund to roll out the conversations to local areas.  Over the coming year we’ll be encouraging people to have local conversations and then work with us to bring together all the local discussions and plans for future action.
  • A conversation over a U Lab event lunch break about peer support for mums once they return to work made us look again at work we did to get a network of peer support groups for mums going in rural areas (see our Mums Supporting Mums project). We talked to a partner from the earlier project and came up with a plan. We both put a lot of work into it but realised the timing wasn’t right and shelved that plan. We thought about it again and now we have a Plan B.
  • By this time next year there will be set of Tips that share women’s experiences and give practical suggestions on things both parents and employers can do to make it easier for everyone.  It will be shared on-line to benefit many more people in many more places.

Doing it again

We are planning to host another U Lab hub this year.  This time we will be involving more people we work alongside, including people with learning difficulties, older people and people who have mental health problems.  We’re looking forward to what happens next.

Our advice to anyone who is thinking about being part of U Lab is – do it.  Trust the process and be relaxed about not knowing where it may lead.

U Lab Scotland Website
Join the conversation: #ulabscot



  • Posted by Great post by Outside the Box on how they used U lab – read and be inspired! | U.Lab Scotland on March 20th 2017
    […] The difference a year can make – what happed to us as a consequence of U Lab […]

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