So how did a group of strangers tasked to come up with a product or service that helps support people to live well in their own homes for longer make their way to Number 10?
After 12 weeks of immersing ourselves in the world of ageing we got the opportunity to present our progress at the National Housing Federation’s Annual Summit. It was here that we got the chance to share our work with the Prime Minister.
We presented our research showing that minor adaptations can have the biggest impact in helping people remain independent and safe in their homes. But due to the negative stigma attached to the current products, people delay getting them installed. For too long, older people have been poorly served with products that make them feel vulnerable. We felt so strongly about this, we all deserve better.
So we came up with Invisible Creations®, a range of attractive, discreet and dual-purpose adaptations that blend seamlessly into your home. With prevention at the heart of our products, they are designed to be installed into homes sooner, to ultimately help people live healthier and happier for longer.
We thought simply telling the Prime Minister what we had done was incredible and would be hard to top. We were wrong. The Prime Minister wanted to support our work. Her Policy Advisors then got in touch and asked how they could help, something I am told doesn’t happen every day.
We were invited to a meeting at 10 Downing Street with an impressive line up of representatives from the Government and various senior leaders, ranging from academic and age focused organisations to developers and designers. We were asked to share the work we have been doing as part of the National Housing Federation’s Greenhouse programme, and we weren’t quite prepared for the overwhelming offers of support we received to help us progress our idea further.
We were excited to be joined by Deborah Pullen from Building Research Establishment (BRE) and Clare Skidmore from Housing LIN. BRE is the world’s leading building science centre and Deborah was excited about the difference to people’s lives our products can make. She offered to host us at BRE and we cannot wait to collaborate further with the fantastic work BRE are currently doing. BRE are at the forefront of building research and development and the value that they can bring to our project is extensive.
Professor Patrick Bonnet, the Development Director of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing at Newcastle University, also offered to share his insights. As did Rama Gheerawho, the Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre of Design at the Royal College of Art – the centre that invented the phrase ‘inclusive design’. It was fascinating to hear what he had learnt while developing hundreds of new products over the years and we look forward to continuing the conversation with him.
Other guests included senior civil servants from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Department for Business and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Health as well as representatives from industry including L&G and EON.
We have a lot of work to do in order to make our products a reality, but with the overwhelming offers of support, and with Number 10 supporting us, we are more confident than ever that our products are going to change lives.