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Service Design (MA)

Mae White

I'm Mae Leng White, a Singaporean American Service Designer raised in Qatar.

I began my professional journey in Spain where I honed my skills in design, but my true passion has always been in utilising those skills to improve upon social issues through service-oriented endeavours. Since embarking on my Master's degree at the Royal College of Art, I have made it my mission to utilise design as a powerful instrument for uplifting, empowering, and promoting equity, particularly for individuals and communities from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

My previous projects, whether they were tools to use in the classroom or an app to help The Big Issue's vendors better communicate with their customers on a digital platform, have all been attempts to enable people to have more empathy towards one another through being transparent.

I believe that the greatest legacy I can leave on this world is to address poverty at its source. My design journey will involve taking an educational, entrepreneurial, or systemic approach, or a combination of all of these, to achieve this goal.

Previous Degrees

Bachelor in Design at IE University, 2021

Photo of person smiling in front of a river background

Wealth disparity has always been an interest of mine, as both my home countries the US and Singapore struggle with this issue. When I came to live in London for the first time, the inequality here was hard to ignore and delving more into the stories of many rough sleepers through The Big Issue project made me realise how volatile financial security was. At the same time, I felt hesitant to touch upon the topic through service design, because I believed that this was the work of many generations that can only be undone by policy. However, this sense of powerlessness to counter such an issue is commonly felt throughout the UK, and our concern is fuel for a grassroots initiative.

I have been a big believer in Universal Basic Income, and I am certain it will be part of our future sooner or later, but I wanted to create a project that was actionable today. There is still a lot of unwillingness by the affluent community to just "hand out free money" especially when the poor are stigmatised to be irresponsible with its use (which, in reality, is rarely the case) which makes it hard for policies encouraging higher taxes/potential UBI experiments to pass legislation. Poverty is costing the UK government £78 billion a year; money that can be better spent in other ways that create bridges between those living in poverty and the bespoke services/systems that are currently available to the wealthy.

This is why I created my final year project, Well Rounded, an outlet for individuals to fight against wealth disparity and create fitness accessibility. I identified a need that has been excluded from welfare programmes (Universal Credit) but was vitally important to the financially insecure both socially and physiologically which was fitness. I investigated my neighbourhood's willingness to help out our community by leveraging proximity as a motivator. I then utilised the existing retail network in my neighbourhood to give my non-profit a physical presence by using them as donation hubs towards Well Rounded's mission. The money collected from here is used to fund fitness bursaries, grants for individuals to become certified trainers, and deposits for rental spaces for the community to use.

In the future, I see Well Rounded funding more services/activities beyond fitness that are equally as important to social and physical well-being in the wellness/self-care and the food & beverage industries. This can help integrate the two socioeconomic communities into the same shared spaces and create more awareness around wealth disparity and how we could help.

Eight example-screenshots of the Well Rounded website in use
Well Rounded Overview


The majority of Londoners care about wealth inequality, but few know how to tackle it and doubt that their small contributions can have an impact. Meanwhile, those who are struggling financially do agree that while the British welfare system does take care of their basic needs (such as food and shelter), there are other non-essential needs that have been given up in the presence of financial insecurity. This is the case for fitness. Lack of access to fitness activities in one's local neighbourhood can contribute to the isolation of the elderly and the loitering of teenagers. Well Rounded is a charitable initiative that aims to give equal access to fitness while letting affluent residents lead the fight against wealth inequality in their neighbourhoods.

Key Facts

Non-affluence - “Fitness”, “exercise”, and “physical well-being” were frequently mentioned in interviews with locals receiving Universal Credit when asked how they would like to spend money

Affluence - 86% of residents believe wealth disparity to be an urgent issue. Around 50% said they would be willing to help a neighbour in need if they lacked access to social/physical well-being


Confrontation - a space or activity that both the affluent and non-affluent communities can have meaningful interactions

Convenience - residents can find a Well Rounded donation hub in every store in their neighbourhood

Agency - non-affluent residents should be able to decide the terms of the help given to them

Accountability - everyone in the neighbourhood should be able to see the impact and presence that Well Rounded has to the residents

Solution Summary

Well Rounded is a charity organisation on a mission to create equal access to fitness for everyone in the neighbourhood while letting residents lead the fight against wealth disparity.

Businesses collect micro-donations of £1 from customers at the till. The money from those businesses comes into Well Rounded's account which is topped up with Gift Aid. Meanwhile, Well Rounded builds a selection of month-long fitness activities alongside the participating businesses that anyone can sign up for on the website. These are things like yoga, gym memberships, football practice, and so on. The qualifying Well Rounded Neighbours will get a bursary to attend for free, and Well Rounded pays the participating business directly with the donated funds.

Example screen
What if there aren’t enough activities?Well Rounded has a page dedicated to suggestions or personal requests as to how a Neighbour would like to spend the money so long as it's in line with our mission statement.
Example screen
What if there aren’t enough funds?Well Rounded will have to put some members who consistently use bursaries at the bottom of the wait-list to give priority to those who have never used a bursary before.
Example screen
What if I don't qualify to be a Neighbour?Supporters can also join in on the mailing list and sign up for the same monthly activities that are available to our Neighbours, they just have to pay full price for the activity.
Seven open-book samples of the Operations Guide & SEM Road Map
To aid the Shared Experience Mentor with their relationship with the child in their care, we created an SEM Road Map and Operations Guide Book. The booklet contains activities that can help children self-actualise, build self-esteem, work through traumas in a safe and secure manner, and other tools for Mentors to monitor the child's progress. It also has guidelines as to when and were the Mentor will meet with the child either for their weekly meeting or during the de-escalation protocol.


In July 2022, the British Parliament passed a bill creating a new secure school, Oasis Restore, for youth offenders between the ages of 16 and 19. The school, set to open in the winter of 2023 in Medway, Kent, will employ a team from Oasis Community Learning, a charitable organisation that educates children at risk of expulsion. 

Oasis Restore will utilise the principles of Restorative Justice, which focuses on addressing the needs of both victims and offenders through meetings and dialogue, instead of a traditional retributive approach. However, the school faces the challenge of gaining students’ trust who may arrive with a negative attitude towards authority. Though Oasis Restore already plans on giving students group therapy and has in-house psychologists, we believe the needs and traumas of the incoming children are more complex than Oasis has currently prepared for.


How might we help the students have a consistent, healthy relationship with a positive model figure that is nurtured throughout their time in the secure school?


The Shared Experience Mentor (SEM) program is designed to provide each child with a dedicated and trustworthy adult role model committed to supporting and advocating for them. SEMs will be responsible for a small group of students, eating meals with them and meeting each of them personally once a week, and will work closely with their teachers to ensure that each child's unique needs are met. They will have access to each child's sensory profile and previous records, and will use this information to help the teacher tailor lesson plans and activities to the child's needs.


Many children who come to Oasis have experienced significant trauma, such as neglect or abuse, and may have difficulty trusting adults and authority figures. The Shared Experience Mentor (SEM) plays a crucial role in helping these children feel safe and supported as they adjust to their new surroundings.

The SEM will work closely with each child to provide the individualised attention and care they may not have received in their families. Through building trust and connecting, the SEM will help the child work through past traumas and feel more secure in their new environment. The SEM will provide a safe haven of support.


The SEM is a compassionate link, bringing together Oasis's caring efforts and the child's openness to growth.


Download the pdf to see more.


We are not just introducing a new role, we are changing the organisational dynamics of Oasis. Because the SEM will understand the child, the other staff can leverage this understanding and provide better support. By working together, the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. In the future, we envision a whole network of people who leave the secure school and come together to form one body.

Image contains three smaller images of a open shoebox with Oasis Restore branding on it, as well as a scrapbook and PDF booklet
Upon graduating from Oasis Secure School, each child will receive a memory box of their favourite moments or achievements the child experienced during their time with Oasis. This will be put together by the child and the Mentor so the child has artefacts that have emotional as well as professional value (such as the Mentor's letter of recommendation, their list of accomplishments, etc).
Stack of paper containing a filled out "Incident Timeline" used by Mentors to document outbursts in or outside of class.
There are a few tools Mentors can use for their own purposes or to be worked through with the child if they are willing. The Incident Timeline tracks the progression of a potentially negative incident, working with the child to find better coping mechanisms in the future. The example here showed a filled-out version of this document, aided with comments from teachers on the child's behaviour.
Cover photo with the project name on the left and an example screen of the app in use on the right


The Big Issue is an innovative social enterprise that empowers street vendors to sell its magazine, offering a vital path to self-employment to alleviate homelessness. As the world becomes increasingly digital, the challenge for the Big Issue is to transform its business model without sacrificing the essence of its unique value proposition.

To meet this challenge, our team created an app that enhances the reader's experience and builds a meaningful connection between the reader and the vendor. The app curates content tailored to the reader's interests and connects them with a Big Issue vendor who shares those interests. Through this connection, readers are invited to engage in social activities initiated by the vendor to gain a deeper understanding of the vendor's life, creating a more personal and impactful experience.


Progress looks different for every vendor

Some vendors have larger aspirations than where they are now, but a lot of other vendors have been working for 10+ years and are very content with where they are in life. Sure, they could be happier affording a few more luxuries, but successful vendors feel that their basic needs are met. The newest vendors usually suffer the most from loneliness and financial insecurity.

Homelessness does not exist as a separate issue from other social issues

Within every trending social issue, there is a population of homeless individuals whose situation was inadvertently caused by a said issue that the mainstream public can identify with. Homelessness itself is not an urgent issue for most people, but if it stops being viewed as a separate social issue from the ones we care about, we can better combat homelessness together as a society.

An act of kindness leaves a profound impact

When asked about a vendor's experience on the job, something that always came up was a valuable act of kindness that a customer showed them. Whether it was offering to wash their clothes, giving them a haircut, or even collecting baby clothing and toys for a vendor's newborn, a customer who knew a vendor well was able to give a remarkable act of kindness that left an impression on the vendor.

Theory of Change

We believe readers will feel compelled to help vendors by forming relationships with them, hence helping vendors feel cared for by the community.

Example of a use-case conversation on the Pitch Project app with a vendor and multiple customers