The Lade: A community centre to challenge child poverty, by Naomi McIntosh Winner’s Story

The Lade Create Play Generate

Winner: New Designers Social Impact Award 2020

The Lade is a child-centred community hub that promotes the natural development of youngsters by providing support, learning opportunities and life skills.

Set in a former Dundee Jute Mill, the large space comprises play-scapes, a creative arts area, a co-working space, and a community cafe whilst retaining many of the original features of the historic building. It features a large communal garden, places to socialise, and the freedom to learn new skills away from the confines of the classroom.


My name is Naomi McIntosh, recent graduate of Interior and Environmental Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee and New Designers: Social Impact Award Winner 2020.

I was inspired to create this project following my own struggles as a single mother and seeing the increasing rate of child poverty in the city. Dundee has the second highest rate in Scotland after Glasgow city.

Unfortunately, child poverty is an increasing trend throughout the UK. According to the Child Poverty Action Group:

  • In 2018-2019 4.2 million or 30% children were living in poverty
  • 72% of children living in poverty come from working households
  • 44% of lone parent families are living in poverty
  • 46% of children from black and ethnic minority groups live in poverty.

Some themes began to arise during my investigation into child poverty. These included extortionate childcare rates locking parents out of employment; children growing up without important life skills and access to outdoor play; and families living in isolation without a support network.

Early childhood experiences can have a lasting impact on development: Significant stresses in the environment can have lifetime consequences for children including their learning capacity, poor physical and mental health. However, children can thrive despite hardships with positive influences, opportunities and supportive relationships.

I designed The Lade so that there are plenty of amenities and opportunities for children. Support is available for parents and carers too by allowing access to affordable childcare, facilities to work whilst the children are occupied and the opportunity to network and share duties with other families. The design aims to simulate a village community atmosphere which is often lost in our modern busy urban landscape.

As the saying goes: ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’

With the current Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, child poverty trends are likely to get even worse over the next few years. It has never been more vital to work towards finding resolutions. The Lade design concept could be adapted to other cities to help alleviate the child poverty crisis we face today.

The economic position of struggling families affects not only the present but their future welfare too – the cycle of poverty continuing into the next generation. We need to enable families with the tools to break free from their current situations on a local community level, as well as nationally.

No child deserves to grow up in poverty.

More information on my project can be found on my website