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England's Lane Hack

Last Monday the North Camden Zone brought residents and professionals together for the England’s Lane Hack. They came up with brilliant ideas for changes to improve the residents’ lives. The Hack showed how important it is for people with lived experience to be part of ideas for change.


England’s Lane Hostel is temporary accommodation for homeless families. The North Camden Zone has been working with residents to understand the challenges they face. Bringing up their children while navigating the housing system made it a natural focus for our systems change work.

On a cold Monday morning seven residents from England’s Lane Hostel ventured into the Pirate Castle not knowing what to expect. They were joined by 26 professionals from the voluntary sector, Camden Council, the NHS and Camden community members.

The Hack opened by hearing how residents felt frustrated about a lack of control over their lives and a say in how their services are run. Two challenges were the high costs of laundry and the fact that several of the England’s Lane families had been living in a single room for 10 years. Residents felt powerless to bring about change. Yet many wished to help make things better.

The Hack moved on to a series of fast-paced exercises to improve our understanding of the challenges, generate innovative ideas, and flesh out the best ideas into solutions. One highlight was the group acting as a human shuffling machine to the sounds of Michael Jackson. There was great energy in the room as we made new connections between people and ideas.

The Hack ended with teams pitching five solutions and seeking pledges of support from the group. It was amazing to see the residents, confidently presenting ideas alongside their professional team mates. The best-supported idea was “Wash and Care”, a pitch to create a new laundry as a co-operative in the hostel. This even got backing from an organisation to help develop the idea

The England’s Lane Hack showed how a systems change approach can help us tackle the challenges faced by residents in the North Camden Zone. People with lived experience were central to generating the ideas for change. Professionals from different sectors shared their knowledge, deepened their understanding and together we co-designed solutions.

The next step is for the North Camden Zone to convene a panel and choose the first idea to prototype. Watch this space!


Pictures 2, 3 and 4 by Natasha Bennett

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