Category Archives: events

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Using digital technology and asset mapping to tackle social isolation – without special funding

I’m sure that the 15 partnerships supported under the Big Lottery Fund’s £82 million programme to tackle social isolation, which I wrote about earlier, will produce excellent projects over the next five years – but how about the other areas that pitched but did not get funding?

And what sort of projects may be developed in future when public sector funding will be even tighter than it is today, as the retiring head of the home civil service, Sir Bob Kerslake pointed out the other day?

Drew Mackie and I used the opportunity of a seminar about social media, community and local local government, run by LGIU and Globalnet21, to explore that recently. Thanks to Francis Sealey of GN21 for the opportunity. Do take a look at the other GN21 excellent events and webinars.

We used the setting of our fictitious town of Slipham, recently the subject of a workshop in Southwark on how to develop digital participation programmes in the face of austerity. Here’s the challenge our 20 workshop participants faced:

In Slipham a partnership of local organisations recently failed in its funding bid for a five-year programme supported by the Big Lottery Fund to combat social isolation among older people in the town.

However, the Slipham partnership has decided to turn the rejection into an opportunity, and develop an “austerity innovation” programme that focuses on local assets and global knowledge rather than external funding. To do this the partnership will:

  • broaden the scope of the programme to cover anyone challenged by loneliness, or aiming to enjoy living alone.
  • research and map local resources and networks that can provide ideas, support, activities or funding – and build relationships to make the most of these.
  • help people and organisations use digital technology and innovative approaches to meet their needs and interests.

The partnership is running co-design workshop sessions in which they will develop their new innovative programme to address the broad challenge:

How can we help Slipham people and organisations use technology to help tackle loneliness and/or support living alone.

You can see a full report of the workshop here, with downloads of materials. The format was similar in part to the Southwark workshop: we started with some Slipham characters and organisations, and discussed in groups which project themes might be appropriate to address their needs and aspirations. For example:

  • Help people use full capability of smartphones and tablets to connect
  • Make tech learning sessions social events
  • Build the capacity of community groups to use tech
  • Develop a network of volunteer digital champions
  • Recruit social reporters to amplify and connect face to face events
  • Support community sharing of services online

Slipham characters The groups developed project briefs, and then exchanged these. At this point we introduced another dimension – a social network map of Slipham. The map showed the original partnership organisations, and also more than a dozen others. As well as the map we produced a table showing the assets each organisation held – premises, skills, equipment, membership, funding.

We asked participants to review the map and assets held by organisations, and consider what new connections would be helpful in developing projects. We also offered a set of method cards that provided ideas on how to both build the network and develop projects.

The idea of introducing the network map was to simulate the process of asset and network mapping that may be undertaken by partnerships to underpin asset based community development. I think the session was useful in providing a framework for conversation around these points:

  • any plans to use technology should start with people who may benefit – as we explored with Age UK London earlier this year
  • in any area there are far more skills and other resources than evident until you start to research them
  • bringing the assets into use with any new projects will involve building new relationships

I hope that we may be able to run a similar workshop “for real” with some of the partnerships or other organisations exploring how digital technology can be used to help tackle social isolation, and support programmes for well-being.

The Campaign to End Loneliness ran what looked to be an excellent event in July –  Technology: will it ever be a ‘fix’ for loneliness? As well as producing an extremely useful report and video, they provided these summary points:

  • Treat technology as a useful tool that should be used alongside a range of other things to combat loneliness: non-virtual relationships are still vital
  • Remember that older people want from technology is what we all want: our interests and needs do not just change overnight when we turn 65
  • Recognise that people aged over 65 are as just thirsty for new technology as you are, but some confidence building might be needed at first
  • Try to focus on the benefits of a technology if introducing it for the first time: don’t describe the service, describe the outcome that it will bring
  • We need more funding to make kit and training cheaper (and therefore less of a barrier) but we can start to talk and do more to raise the value of technology at the same time

I used some of the insights from that work, as well as the exploration we did for Nominet Trust into digital technology in later life, to inform our workshop design. The Campaign to End Loneliness workshop provided some examples of specific technologies that could be used in projects, and these and other ideas could form the basis for planning development “for real”.

Declaration: the winning partnerships are being supported by Hall Aitken, and I made some early contribution to their work on asset and network mapping. Ideas here are my own.  Follow @HallAitken for updates on the programme.

Joining in Celebration 2.0: social media for sociable events

Reporting from events, and helping make them more sociable, is where a lot of my ideas on social reporting developed … with a early boost from the 2gether08 Festival a few year back. I’m therefore particularly delighted to be part of John Popham’s team for Celebration 2.0, which he has launched with a post here.

The genesis of Celebration 2.0 was the #twicket initiative that John ran on Easter Monday, live streaming a village cricket match, with local commentators and a global audience. Wikipedia entry here. John identifies three important lessons from #twicket:

  • “Fun” events can achieve large scale, global audiences online and attract mainstream media attention;
  • People who previously had seen no use for new technologies in their lives radically changed their attitudes as a result of being involved in an event that was enhanced by technology;
  • Serious messages can be conveyed to large audiences engaged by their interest in the fun nature of the event.

And adds:

So the core of Celebration 2.0 is to do more of what #twicket was about. Essentially, I will be going where people are having fun, helping them to use new technologies to enhance and amplify their events, engage new audiences, connect with others in the world doing similar things, and celebrate their traditions and cultures. And, in doing so, I’ll be looking to disseminate some practical strategies for engaging the reluctant in the use of new technologies.

There’ll be live streaming, recording audio and video, blogging, tweeting … and helping people do all that and more themselves. I do most of my reporting on an iPhone, uploading straight to YouTube, and a lot of people have the same capability on their phones. If not video, do some audio from any phone. We’ll produce a toolkit by the end of the project in  mid-2012, expanding the one I started with Bev Trayner.

The project is supported by Nominet Trust, and we will be working closely with the Talk About Local team who support local online sites.

I’m also hoping that the Media Trust’s Newsnet project – which I wrote about on – might provide channels for wider distribution, and that is further scope for building on the work John and I have been doing with Big Lottery Fund’s People Powered Change. The Big Jubilee Lunch next June could offer some terrific opportunities.

John is the main point of contact on all this, and he provides details in his post. We are keen to hear both from people running events, and also from policy people and organisations looking for fun ways to engage people using a mix of media. It’s not just about the impact of one event. As Tom Phillips says here, events can help build networks too.


All posts events games local

Playing the game of saving Slapham community spaces

The Community Matters annual conference last weekend gave Drew Mackie and I a chance to test out a new workshop game that we hope will help local groups plan take over and run community buildings – or improve the ones they have.

This is particularly challenging when councils are disposing of property in order to reduce costs, when local groups face cuts in funding – yet the demand for community services is increasing. Our workshop produced lots of conversations about the realities of people powered change. We started talking about buildings, staff, finance … and ended up focussing on community and collaboration.

There’s lots of excellent guidance and inspiring stories of groups creating very impressive spaces, both urban and rural: see for example the work of the Asset Transfer Unit, the examples at The Place Station, and the Big Lottery Fund Village SOS initiative. read more »

All posts Big Society events

Your Square Mile launches new site and mutual for local action

ypursquaremile site

It looks as if the Your Square Mile initiative, headed by Paul Twivy and supported by the Big Lottery Fund, has found some middle ground between the Tory Big Society and Labour’s Good Society.

Tomorrow YSM will be holding a press event to launch it’s new web site now online; show a documentary about the pilot projects they have been working with around the country, and explain more about plans to make YSM a mutual owned by millions of citizens.

Unusually they are expecting both Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, and Tessa Jowell, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, to wish them well at the event. read more »

All posts events local

Funder NESTA tells community projects: cut the paperwork, blog your reports

I’ve been catching up with the Neighbourhood Challenge programme that was launched last year by NESTA and Big Lottery to support innovative work by community groups in 17 locations around the country. They were chosen from 600 applicants, so I think we can expect to see some interesting developments.
Often the problem with these big agency funded programmes is that they are launched with a flourish in London, and after that it is difficult to see what’s going on until a long evaluation report emerges that may or may not give many insights into what really happened. By then things have moved on, and the chance to share lessons has been lost.
In between, local people and agency staff have probably been too caught up with reporting procedures to tell the stories that might interests the outside world … or even local people. There may be an unwillingness to open up on how they tackled problems in case that doesn’t play well with the funders. read more »

Planning video reporting at an event – or sometime not

There’s increasing interest among event organisers in using short video interviews to capture conversations in workshops, as well as featuring keynote speakers and panelists. Good news for social reporters, if like me you do that sort of thing.

But as the enthusiasm increases – and recording becomes simpler – things can get out of hand. I’ve had organisers suggest that the most democratic way to gather content is to shoot lots of video and then edit out the key points later. I certainly know that can be a nightmare … but I thought I would check my experience and share some ideas on the best approach with Ravinol Chambers of Be Inspired Films when we met up the other day at the Third Sector Social Media Convention.

read more »

All posts events innovation

How to run an event developing innovative projects

It is just two years since the first Social Innovation Camp, when a mix of social entrepreneurs, geeks and activists came together for a weekend to develop projects from a set of crowdsourced ideas, and pitched for a prize to help further development.

That and similar formats are now well developed and accepted, if not documented … so I’m delighted my colleague Amy Sample Ward has taken the trouble to create a wiki explaining what’s involved.

read more »

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Beyond unconferencing

Daves Briggs reflects on the recent ukgovcamp unconference he organised, and the need to move beyond conversation: “What we seem to lack is an ecosystem of ideas in public services. Discussions about new ways of doing things, how to change the way things are, how ideas get progressed into prototypes and then into actual delivered services or ways of working”.

Making social reporting an OpenBusiness

The UKgovcamp event on Saturday gave me a chance to extend social reporting practice by making interviews, and hosting a session, an integral part of an open research and ideas-generation process within a project. It’s a nudge towards an OpenBusiness approach.
The project is working with Consumer Focus to explore how to involve users in the design and development of digital public services. As explained here, we are using the SocialbySocial online community to start research and discussion leading up to a workshop. We’ll report that and develop the campaign for user-involvement promised in their earlier report on Directgov. read more »

All posts events games local

Media coaches game a digital neighbourhood

I’m at the EuroMeduc conference in Bellaria, Italy, which is proving a great opportunity to meet a range of teachers, researchers, librarians and policy people interested in media literacy … which is helping people gain access, understand and use different media.

I’m contributing by running a couple of workshops using a version of the social media game developed earlier in the year with Ed Klute, who runs a network for media coaches around Europe. The coaches work part time in schools, libraries, and public services including police and health to help their colleagues use Internet tools and other social media. They are at the sharp end of media literacy – as Ed says, it no good having lots of policy and programmes if people in the classroom can’t deliver. First-hand support may be better than courses. read more »