Beyond (Un)employment Round Up
Hack Days and Show & Tell Dinner

Following on from six learning sessions building together earlier this year and touch points over the summer break, our awesome Beyond (un)employment cohort came together this month to host 2 hack days and prepare for a show and tell dinner to share their ideas and findings from the programme. The commitment of the group has been a powerful driver in this work, with seven groups working on seven ideas rising out of the collective methodology to explore this wicked system challenge together. Here’s a little rundown of the projects:

Group 1: What are the basic skills of today? How might we widen the perimeters from literacy, numeracy and science to build a learning framework around critical analysis as a basic skill? @TedRyan22

Group 2: How might we set up a commercial community kitchen to support better refugee resettlement? Work and sense of belonging are key protective factors for migrants and refugees. How might we help refugees and migrants move into a job or become self-employed? @MrDaveConroy

Group 3: How might we improve succession planning for small businesses in the region? @colinpollard203

Group 4: What is the future of lifelong learning? @AnnekaDeva

Group 5: What really supports young people in East Birmingham? @ThePumpEastBrum | @podnosh

Group 6: How might we design a better future for the Job Centre? @ThomBartley

Group 7: How might we tell, curate and disseminate the multiple stories that have made the UK the global economic influencer it is today? Can we tell these stories in ways that help us take personal and socio-political decisions that do not seek to replicate the past and its injustice? @katecooper

The first hack day culminated around sharing that these folks were working on these projects and calling out for ideas, insights, skills and support. It was great to open up the conversations wider again, with the cohort holding the spaces to mine their idea nuggets together. Willing bodies turned up for the hack, a first touch point for many to the project, motivated by the topic, the passion and the people who had swirled together to form a galaxy of possibility in a messy unemployment universe. It was interesting to see which groups got out of the hub, conducting user research and deep diving into and building on what they knew, and for which it was much more about hashing things out, prototyping what was come next to move the idea forward. Using working blocks throughout the day, the groups met at a succession of checkpoints throughout, and closed by sharing what they would work on again before the second hack in a week’s time.

Words the collective used to describe the day: constructive, deconstructive, smooth, reality check, encouraging, stretching, fruitful.

The following week we were back at it, this time with even more participants joining the group’s miniature movements which were beginning to bear fruit. This session saw a lot of self-directed work, but we also shared some useful tools for the group to try together, including a specially designed project canvas to work through, and an ‘unspoken feedback’ session that encouraged sharing around this made me think of, don’t forget, and what if? using post-its. Examples of feedback included: This made me think of… how you explain what a systems map is to young people and why should they care? Don’t forget… it’s always changing. What if… you ran this from the Impact Hub? How much the group had grown into  ownership over their own strands of enquiry really showed in this session, as momentum grew beyond the cohort and into real life teams to research, rehash and realise ideas together; ready to share further.

The following week the teams’ hard work throughout the constructive, deconstructive, smooth, reality check, encouraging, stretching, fruitful hacks, and Beyond (un)employment as a whole, was rewarded with a slap up meal and chance to bring relevant people into the mix and collectively share the spoils of the thinking and processes of the programme here in Brum. The range of topics and the level of development shows not only the tenacity of the cohort, but also how differently we can all contribute to and understand deep rooted complex challenges so differently. With foci ranging from what we teach young children in schools, to 50+ year old small business owners and their succession plans, it became clear that some of the initial questions  we first convened around such as what is valuable work? and what would it take for Birmingham to be a place where no-one is unemployed? really do concern all of us, and so it will take so many different types of action, and mapping, and (re)working to create interventions and ultimately, systems change.

Have a nosey at the Show & Tell presentations from each project group in full below. Why not get in touch to help them further their idea?




So, what’s next? 
Whilst the Beyond (un)employment strand has ultimately come to a close, we will continue to support our badass cohort and create space to come all together around all of these ideas quarterly here at Impact Hub Birmingham, as well as continuing to connect people up, encouraging the building and conversations that is now starting to happen. A huge thank you to the ongoing commitment of the group to make the city of Birmingham a better place for us all to live and work; to all of our speakers, our human books, our data analysts and human ethnographers; our illustrators, photographers and facilitators; our pitch night, hack day and dinner attendees – thank you all for bringing your energy. Let’s keep talking. Keep an eye and join the conversation at: and #BeyondUnemployment on twitter.

To revisit the methodology used at different stages of this project you can go back to our learning session posts here >>

Session 1: Big Questions
Session 2: Sharing Stories
Session 3: Pictures in Data
Session 4: Projects We Love
Session 5: Context & Perspectives
Session 6: A Systems Approach

Photography & videography by Paul Stringer.