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The Open Working Lineup (OWL) is a team of service and content designers helping Catalyst funded charities work in the open and reuse existing tools and tech.

We help you to work openly and think about how to reuse others’ work.

We are here to:

  • Teach you how to work openly
  • Help you make your research and design assets open for others to see and use e.g. user need statements, personas, research findings
  • Help you publish your learning e.g. blogs, Service Recipes
  • Help you think about reusing existing tech to test ideas and deliver services

We're available until April 2021. We manage our work through this Trello Board.

OWL people are...

  • Ross McCulloch, Service Designer, Third Sector Lab
  • Marlous Lang-Peterse, OWL Project Manager, Third Sector Lab
  • Matt McStravick, Service Designer, Deepr
  • Joe Roberson, Content Designer, Working with Joe
  • Christine Cawthorne, Content Designer, Crocstar Media

Charities working in the open

Links to useful real-life design assets and project reflections created by charities and digital partners, funded by Catalyst. Some assets are work in progress. You may freely download and reuse or remix them - see the Creative Commons licence. You do not need to ask for permission.

The Licence: You are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

Against Violence and Abuse (AVA)

Building an online training platform for professionals supporting domestic abuse survivors

Age UK

An interactive platform to maximise volunteer involvement in services for older people across the Age UK network.

Age UK Oxfordshire

Creating an online booking system for exercise classes, supported by an integrated database, using off-the-shelf tools.

Alive Activities

Creating a teleconferencing platform for older people.

Cancer Care North Lancashire and South Cumbria

Creating a therapeutic Minecraft world for teens affected by cancer and loss to connect with peers, youth workers and therapists.

Chiltern Music Therapy

Prototyping a digital solution to support digital music therapy provision to vulnerable people.

Citizens Advice North East Derbyshire

Exploring how they might provide better financial advice through digital.

Citizens Advice Southampton

Developing a video hub solution, providing advice to vulnerable people.

Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (CARAS)

Developing an integrated appointments system to support refugees and asylum seekers

Community Action: MK

A data collection and intelligence platform for the VCSE sector in Milton Keynes.

The Co-operative College

Improving experience of online courses for young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism.

Equal Care Coop

A co-owned digital platform that matches people who need support with those who can provide it, then providing services that allow them to manage their relationship.

  • Progress report on the development of the pilot: achievements, approach, methodology (2020, for Nesta).

Galloway's Society for the Blind

Tech Ability: a project tackling digital isolation among visually impaired people in Lancashire.

Groundwork Trust

A project to improve their online learning service for communities and vulnerable groups.

  • Notion project management site, created by Erica Neve, the Trust's digital partner. We like it because it shows what can be achieved using no-code tools.
  • Video run-through showing how Groundwork and Erica Neve are using Notion.
  • Simplified project workspace template. Includes a stripped back database structure to make it easier for anyone to use for their own projects. Includes 'backend' databases and a 'client-facing' project page that pulls all the info into a more contextualised form. 'How to' guide to follow.
  • Online Learning Playbook - the main project output, a guide to help staff create a blend of live and online learning, making the most of simple digital tools.

Inclusion London

Creating ways for staff and volunteers working with deaf and disabled people to create digital media pieces that tell their story.

Just Like Us

Prototyping an online resource database and training solution for educators delivering LGBT+ curriculum.

  • HackMD project site - documents weeknotes, workshops, design questions, user needs statements - everything! Created by Sienna, digital partner. Weeknotes by the team. An awesome example of open working.

Lancashire Wildlife Trust

An integrated platform to help users interact with their wellbeing service.

Living Well Consortium

A project to improve a user's journey when seeking a mental health therapist on the Consortium's website.

As part of their early work at the end of 2020 the Consortium and their partners, The Developer Society, have created these design assets:

  • Knowledge board - an important early-stage asset, created to get an overview of what they know and where their knowledge gaps are
  • Prospective user journey - an initial idea of what they think a better user journey might look like, created before doing user research interviews. This journey is likely to evolve.
  • Big user need statement - an overarching user need statement and its evolution across four drafts. Likely they will discover other more granular user needs too.
  • User flow diagram - shows the path a user would take when using their website to request support, receive a pre-therapy interview and book a therapy session.

Musiko Musika

Creating an e-learning platform for disadvantaged families with early years children

  • Weeknotes describing their process (in reverse order).

Oxford Hub

Building a web application to manage volunteer-run support programmes in Oxford.

Reuse Network

A platform for charity shops to market and sell their products without having to open to the public.

Skills Builder Partnership

Online platform that allows any individual, anywhere to build their skills within Skills Builder's universal framework.

  • Development board. It contains:
  • Assumptions
  • Understanding the challenge (problem statements, functionality prioritisation matrix, success criteria)
  • Understanding our users and their needs (personas)
  • Understanding the courses and content (the learning cycle)
  • Understanding professional learning (routes into platform)
  • Journey mapping
  • MOSCOW board
  • Road map
  • Epics (including development tickets and examples of how this is communicated to agency)
  • Prototype - shows mobile experience and has some hotspots set up to support user testing (Content in modules is not open for others to reuse because it belongs to Skills Builder Partnership and falls under a different license).

The Scouts

Platform that helps volunteers self-assess their digital skills, then matches them to the tools and resources to improve their skills.

Turner Contemporary

A project to engage older people through creative and social learning opportunities, in ways that reduce isolation and digital exclusion. Working with digital partner, Storythings.

Sector Challenge

Seven challenges across four sectors most affected by COVID-19. Focusing on problems which multiple organisations are working hard to solve.

Each challenge led by a digital partner working with 5-7 charities.

Together running user research and prototyping activities. Seeding solutions that any charity or partnership may take on and grow.

Claiming universal credit remotely

Dynamic Skillset and four charities are finding ways to ensure parents and carers without easy access to data or devices get the support they need.

Connecting Families to early years support

Dartington Service Design Lab and six charities are exploring solutions that could help digitally excluded families. They are doing this to help all charities working in this area. All learning is being made open.

Creating meaningful connections for survivors

Co:create and six charities are exploring how survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence might create meaningful and trusting online connections with support organisations.

  • Diary of a collaborator - weeknotes and shared learnings from the project

Effective online counselling for survivors

Deepr Design, Neontribe and Promo Cymru and five charity partners are prototyping effective approaches for organisations who are moving online their counselling service for survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Strengthening approaches for social prescribing

Lightful and five charity partners are exploring innovation and data sharing for better social prescribing across mental health and wellbeing organisations.

  • Project canvas - exploring desired outcomes, user groups and delivery challenges
  • Design workshop - concepts, sketches that explore potential solutions

Supportive online environments

Tectonic and six charities are testing ways to create supportive online environments for people working with others experiencing mental health crises.

Groups of charities working on similar challenges

Blogs and weeknotes from charities and digital agencies prototyping ideas for their digital challenge.

Communities group

Working on different community challenges.

Content Design group

  • Project resources - Notion page with problem statements, charities' workspaces (Miro boards) and links to resources they are using.
  • Refining user needs and opportunities - guide to user needs and how to prioritise them, from Panda.
  • Ashford Place - workspace for finding a way that people with memory loss can effectively and comfortably access the information, advice and support they need.

User research and prototyping groups

  • We Are Open weeknotes - from Laura Hilliger, their Definition programme. Weekly updates.
  • Project page - includes templates and how-to guides for stakeholder mapping, creating an architecture of participation, persona spectrums, user journeys and other useful resources


Creating shared digital service elements for charities

Projects creating tools and functions to perform common digital tasks, that can be used across the sector.


Charities often need to send many types of notifications to their service users. Bit Zesty and developing tools, services, processes or standards that can be reused by other organisations.

Templates and illustrations

  • Digital project illustrations - from Bryan Mathers at We Are Open Coop. If you use these please attribute “cc-by-nc-nd Bryan Mathers for We Are Open Co-op”

Open Working Learnings

Insights and learning recorded by OWL.

You'll see more design assets from other projects on this page as our work progresses.

An initiative of Catalyst in collaboration with Third Sector Lab and others, part of the Catalyst and The National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response.