Prototypes for a new kind of conversation in Calderdale


The work in Calderdale took a major step forward last week with our second co-design workshop with residents.

This built on our first workshop in May where we – residents, officers, and members of the Public Square team – developed a set of initial ideas for holding public conversations about the borough in public places. Last Thursday’s workshop (11th July) saw residents, officers and an elected member working together on a plan to get these prototypes out and about and into action.


Images on cut-out whiteboard card of a sofa in-front of a rural background, with annotations added in whiteboard pen.
A model of the ‘listening sofa’ prototype.


Calderdale is exploring how it can develop a new relationship between residents and the council. As part of that programme, we are looking to use conversation starters to allow different people from all over the borough to start talking about their aspirations and feelings about Calderdale and its future.

While our first workshop in May developed some initial prototypes for holding conversations, it was part of a wider effort:

  • After the initial workshop, we took the prototype ideas and developed them further, thinking about how they could be used with different groups in community settings.
  • In parallel work, the communications team at Calderdale and Public Square developed the narrative and explanation for the project, to help us engage people inside and outside the council.
  • Council leadership have helped to introduce what is happening – talking to a wider audience, including the media.
  • We planned how we wanted the latest workshop to be about focusing on getting those initial ideas on the ground and working.

The prototypes and how we developed them

You can see initial ideas that we used to help develop a conversation about what might work and might not. 



From these ideas – and the initial prototypes that we developed in May – we  developed the prototypes further, thinking about how they would work in the real world. We used the open source tool ‘scenes’ to help people think about what these would look like. We then asked people to think about how these could be used to reach different groups, and started to create an engagement plan, including identifying key events happening in the borough that could be used to reach out. We also talked about what training and support might be needed throughout the delivery of this work.

A group of four people are sat at a table around some cut-out scenes of prototypes. Some people are writing, one is laughing.
Participants testing out prototypes at the workshop.

What happens next

On the Saturday following our prototyping session, North Halifax Partnership trailed the Listening sofa in West View Park, to invite residents to talk about what’s important to them in their area. 

The work from the co-design workshop means we can now fine-tune our plan for getting the different prototypes into locations around Calderdale. A team of citizens and council officers – as well as Public Square team – will work together to do this over the next couple of weeks.