The statistics on childhood poverty and inequality are increasingly drowning us. 37% of Birmingham’s children live in poverty. Life expectancy of children born in the poorest neighbourhoods of the city is a whole decade less than those born in the wealthiest neighbourhoods.  Despite good work occurring we have still not seen much meaningful progress in addressing these systems issues. Accepting our status quo will have a legacy which will last longer than headlines or politicians, over half of parents in poverty, surveyed by The Birmingham Poverty Action Forum, believe their children will have a worse life than their own.

Movement Building

Birmingham is a city full of challenges and opportunities for this future, as the youngest city in the UK and the city with some of the greatest issues affecting our children. Any meaningful response to this scale of challenges ahead will need to recognise no single agent or actor can deliver this future by itself, it requires a movement spanning local authorities, public and private sectors, schools, children, ultimately all of us together building and growing a city, fit for the 21st century child and family.

Working out loud

Whilst we have run #RadicalChildcare very much in the open, so far a lot of our systems research work has been internally driven and collated, but now is the time to open it all up and invite you in to make it a richer and fuller picture of the opportunities available as well as the barriers we may collectively face in helping a new system emerge. We need to see the system together so we can collectively contribute to creating a better system together.

The work so far

We launched #RadicalChildcare because we felt our existing childcare system wasn’t fit for 21st-century children. We believe that the childcare system needs to evolve if all children are to be able to benefit from the changing landscape both technological and environmental. As we started to unpack the issue of childcare, we understood very rapidly that it was not a single point issue with a simple solution, but rather an incredibly complex systems issue that has a range of factors that affected the lives and outcomes of families and children. Simply, trying to solve the challenge of ‘childcare’ was not possible. In his talk (linked below) Indy Johar helped to frame some of our early work.

For the last three years, we’ve been exploring, experimenting and researching around the theme of #RadicalChildcare, looking to understand the conditions for great childhood outcomes, identifying the barriers to them occurring and uncovering examples of people doing things differently. Collating this research into a systems synthesis has been hard work and involved lots of different kinds of knowledge and datasets.

The Invitation

We would like to invite you to be part of the #RadicalChildcare Systems Design Lab in Birmingham on 16-17 July 2018.

In collaboration with Dark Matter Laboratories, we will collectively imagine what a system for the 21st-century child may include and what interventions we will need to create to make that system a reality.

We know that there are so many people already doing amazing work from all different spheres of the ecosystem which our children grow up in and we need as many of these different voices and viewpoints in the room as possible, from parents to policymakers, childcare professionals, designers, developers and so much more.

Everyone has a valid viewpoint and something to input into the process as we learn together.

This is for you if

  • You want to be part of building a more robust and healthy city & systems for our children.
  • You will bring your curiosity, energy, and empathy to add to a collective intelligence on issues affecting the outcomes for children in Birmingham.
  • You are thirsty for a learning and connecting space that interrogates this complexity at both a systemic and human scale.
  • You believe the perspectives and participation of children are essential to this learning.
  • You are ready to challenge your own assumptions and to form or affirm new convictions based on evidence and experience.
  • You are generous with your knowledge and willing to contribute as much as you get out.

Programme Overview and Timings



Monday 16th July 2018

System Lab Kick Off: 13.00 – 17.00

System Lab Opening Dinner

Talks: 18.00 – 21.00



Tuesday 17th July 2018

System Lab: 09.00 – 18.00


#RadicalChildcare Systems Design Lab is Convened by

Impact Hub Birmingham

Impact Hub Birmingham is a network of amazing citizens, makers, doers, entrepreneurs, activists, and dreamers committed to bu…

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Dark Matter Laboratories

Dark Matter Laboratories design institutional infrastructure for a distributed and collaborative future.

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