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The Idea Bureau


We’ve been working alongside purpose-driven charity, InCommon, through various rounds of funding to build a custom CRM platform that enables them to promote connectivity between school children and older generations.

InCommon Foundation is a charity whose mission is to bridge generational divides and create more inclusive, connected, age-friendly communities for all. They facilitate events (sessions) between schools – both primary and secondary – and housing association schemes in the UK to allow children and young people to visit elders in the community living in nursing homes, assisted living and residential schemes. Their main hope through these sessions is to build relationships and empathy between the younger and older generations.

Originally, InCommon started with a proof of concept created by a student organisation. This first concept was very basic; to create something more comprehensive, they approached us in 2022 to assist them in building a working minimum viable product (MVP) of their online platform idea. This MVP enabled them to secure their first round of funding. Following that success, our design and development expertise then contributed to them achieving further funding via Innovate UK – a UK government research and innovation agency – which has since provided the funds to allow us to transform the platform over a number of sprints this year.

The Problem

When InCommon approached us, they were facilitating the sessions manually via email and third-party apps, such as AirTable. To streamline this process, the team wanted to create a digital platform to allow the schools and housing schemes they’d built a relationship with to connect with each other. The platform they requested would enable both groups to plan in dates and times for the activity sessions to take place; they also felt it was especially important to put this in place as they continued to widen their collaboration with new schools and schemes.

There were a number of features they wanted the digital platform to facilitate – these included:

  • Allowing schools and schemes to create events with each other
  • Gathering data and reporting on the programme usage
  • Assisting the team in onboarding new schools and connecting them with existing schemes
  • Promoting the activities that InCommon create for intergenerational visits
  • Safeguarding participants and their data

“We’ve been working with The Idea Bureau since March 2022 on a project funded by UKRI to help us connect more children and older people across the UK. The platform has transformed our ability to bring generations together. We can now support local schools and retirement homes across the UK to kickstart their own intergenerational projects.”

Laura Macartney
Co-Founder & Director at InCommon Foundation

Our Solution

The way we work with InCommon is broken up into sprints across the year, something we’ve been doing for 2 years now. These sprints are based around the school year: i.e. from September of one year to June of the next. Any new features we build, we then implement for when a new school term is about to start.

Before each sprint begins, the InCommon team comes to us with a list of features and ideas they’d like to cover; we then go through these ideas on a discovery call to understand the specifics. When it comes to working on a platform such as this, there are lots of nuances and caveats that come with each feature, so it’s important we understand these from the get go.

InCommon Foundation
Project Type:
Bespoke Platform, CRM
Workshops, UI, UX, Development

How the platform works

We used Laravel as a foundation for the platform, which provided us with a solid basis to implement features, such as the registration and login areas, and user profile functionality. In addition to this, we incorporated Laravel Nova to give the team a clear and user-friendly way to administer the platform. This admin panel provides an interface that demonstrates data from the sessions, including satisfaction between the schools and housing schemes, and also the number of participants in each event.

To facilitate the onboarding of new schools to the programme, we integrated the Calendly service via their API to allow them to book a call with the InCommon team; the details for calls are synced with the platform, so the team can always see the status of those in the onboarding journey.

Mailgun is a service we’ve put in place for outbound emails to ensure event and onboarding notifications, and post-event surveys, are sent and delivered in a timely manner to both the school staff and housing scheme managers.

Working together

Post discovery call, we’ll go away and decide upon the required amount of time to design, build and test the new features. If all of the ideas they’ve put forward for a particular sprint aren’t achievable in the time, then we’ll collaborate with the team to prioritise what they need to achieve in the allotted time, and ultimately choose what can be put on hold for a future sprint.

With the Innovate UK funding, there are some expectations in terms of delivery requirements, so it’s important we stick to this. We also need to provide video progress updates for InCommon to share with Innovate UK to prove our current development status in order to release funding.

“It’s always a pleasure working with Ben and Tash. They’re so responsive, excellent at communicating timings and have been incredibly flexible with our approach to working.”

Mel Leung
Project Manager at InCommon Foundation

Easily monitoring progress

Previously, the InCommon team used AirTable to receive feedback from participants. We’ve since built this functionality into the new system. It’s a feature that allows them to keep an eye on the progress of the sessions run between the schemes and schools via a few methods: once a session has taken place, the platform will email those who ran the sessions to gain feedback from both the scheme leaders and the school staff. This is then displayed in the user area for them to track how well things are going and if any changes need to be made. Alongside this, members of InCommon Foundation occasionally attend the sessions to be able to monitor the outcomes, for example: “Are the activities working for the groups?”, “Do they get along socially?” etc.

“We’ve been absolutely delighted with the process and the end result. Right from the start, the TIB team have gone above and beyond to understand what’s important to us and our users, and have always maintained a clear sense of what will be most helpful in bringing children and older people together. They’ve done a fantastic job of taking our vision and have turned it into a functioning, high quality platform. We couldn’t be happier with it.”

Laura Macartney, Co-Founder & Director at InCommon Foundation

Providing evidence for growth

The MVP and subsequent versions of the platform have been instrumental in providing evidence to gain funding for InCommon to grow both their work and the platform itself. It’s a cyclical symbiotic relationship in that every round of funding requires more evidence, which the platform assists the team in gathering; this evidence then increases their funding to grow the functionality of the platform.

The platform can now also be accessed by InCommon’s partners, which helps to demonstrate its ROI (return on investment). These partners include housing association schemes they’ve partnered with to run the intergenerational events. We’ve recently implemented a new feature called the ‘Commissioner View’ for housing association managers to interact with their scheme’s data and events, which helps them to see results in real-time. As part of our safeguarding procedures, these partners can only access data related to their schemes and activities. This is particularly important, as it involves children and young people, as well as potentially vulnerable elderly people.


With InCommon, we’re working with a team that are incredibly passionate about their cause, and it’s great to provide our design and development expertise to a sector that’s underrepresented right now.
We’ve received brilliant feedback from the client on how easy it is for schools and schemes to connect and organise events for both the children and residents. The new platform has also started to gather feedback from post-event surveys – so far, the data from this indicates very positive engagement with the system.

The hope for InCommon is that their work will become a nationally recognised service, as this would potentially mean schools will sign up themselves, and it gains traction as an automated process. We’re really happy with how our relationship has continued to grow over the years and we look forward to assisting them going forward on bringing their goals to fruition.

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