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Prototyping a service to address loneliness

The Client Design Council / thinkpublic

The Challenge

Nearly half of the UK's adult population (25.99 million) reported feeling lonely, with the risk of early mortality increasing by 26%. Inner-city loneliness has emerged as a significant social and mental health issue that requires innovative solutions. Surprisingly, individuals between the ages of 16 and 29 are more than twice as likely to experience chronic loneliness compared to those over 70. Our challenge was to design an intergenerational approach to tackle loneliness effectively.


Our Approach

Drawing upon our extensive experience working with diverse individuals and communities facing various social challenges, we identified the pressing need for a service that could support lonely individuals living in cities without family support networks. We aimed to create a sense of community and foster family-like relationships. As a result, we developed a unique service called Relative Friends. This service allows individuals to choose their "family" and friends by participating in local events and connecting with community members through a bespoke online platform.

The Outcome

The Relative Friends service enabled people to build meaningful, family-like relationships within their local areas. It was awarded the prestigious Service Design category at the Design Week Awards, recognising the best British design talent of the year.​

"Well-thought-through, clear and smart. Service design with real intent. Clever thinking that has an impact on people’s lives and community as a whole."

 - Design Week Judges  

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