Give us a break

Am sharing the details of this event on behalf of my good friend Jude, who is running what looks to be a really interesting project.

GIVE US A BREAK: Ideas for developing easy ways to source respite breaks for carers online

Give Us A Break tackles the feelings of social isolation that are often experienced by people caring for an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner. Give Us a Break aims to ease the burden of caring by providing a few days away from day-to-day responsibilities, as well as ongoing support over the phone and online. It is the first project run by soundinnovation, a not-for-profit hub to develop projects with a social purpose.

A key part of the project is to develop ideas around online support for carers to enable them to access respite opportunities. There doesn’t seem to be any specific ‘go to’ websites for carers to tap into carer friendly accommodation. For example one of the most interesting carer friendly accommodation like the Kiloran Trust are very hard to find.

How can you help?

On Thursday 9th June from 6.00pm we’re hosting a brainstorming evening with tech savvy individuals to explore and potentially develop ways of enabling carers to access info for breaks – online. For example it could simply be finding a way to map appropriate and available respite opportunities across the country by geo-tagging respite opportunities around the country and getting other carers to rate them or make suggestions for carer friendly accommodation.

We’re not planning on reinventing the wheel but what is clear is that when a carer can get access to a break we want them to be able to find it quickly – but there doesn’t seem to be much available.


soundinnovation offices at Happy Computers, Cityside House, 40 Adler Street, London E1 1EE.

If you can come along, please RSVP to

The digital engagement game

At the introduction to digital engagement workshop we ran this week, I debuted the digital engagement game.

It’s a workshop exercise that’s an expansion of my version of David Wilcox‘s social media game, which in turn has been developed into the Social by Social game.

The original game featured a pack of cards detailing various social media tools, and a few traditional ones too. Teams then came up with scenarios, and used the cards to produce solutions.

It was always good fun to run and is helpful in getting people to focus on purpose and not getting hung up on the tools.

Over time though it became clear that the cards needed updating, and if we were going to do that, then we might as well revisit the whole thing.

So, now there are four different sets of cards in the game. These hopefully cover the range of issues people planning digital engagement projects need to consider.

Tools – the technology

  • Blogging
  • Social networks
  • Status updates
  • Media sharing
  • Online collaboration
  • Newsletters
  • Aggregation
  • Social authoring
  • Web conferencing
  • Mobile apps
  • Location services

Roles – the people

  • Champion
  • Community manager
  • Digital mentor
  • Moderator
  • Social reporter
  • Developer
  • Strategist
  • Data expert
  • Evangelist
  • Content wizard

Activities – the other stuff you have to do

  • Training
  • Events
  • Workshops
  • Social media surgeries
  • Network mapping
  • Codesign
  • Listening online
  • Evaluation
  • Publish open data
  • Carry out surveys

Process – tackling the bureaucracy

  • Develop strategy
  • Write policy
  • Campaign plans
  • Project management
  • Identify the keen
  • Make business case
  • Get IT support
  • Get political buy-in
  • Get senior managers on board
  • Manage risks

Teams in the game have two sheets, one to set the scenario:

Red team scenario

And one to plot the solution:

Red team solutions

This format of the game seems to work pretty well, helping people think about all the issues involved in solving problems using digital tools – especially the idea that the people and the process matter just as much, if not more, than the technology.

If you’d like to make your own set of cards, here’s the PDF (3.1mb) which you can print out, cut up, fold and laminate.

Portfolio: sharing council comms resources

Portfolio looks an interesting idea, coming out of Nottingham City Council.

This, from an article at LGComms:

We’re launching Portfolio, a web portal that allows public sector organisations to share marketing materials. Councils and other public authorities can sign up to it for free and save money by buying ready-made, proven marketing campaigns. It also enables them to make money by uploading and selling their own designs.

Kind of an app store but for comms resources. Cool.

Right now it’s just traditional print media designs that are available, but I’m guessing it wouldn’t be too hard to include video assets, audio and so on.

Maybe even WordPress templates and the like?

Innovative ways of training

I’ve been thinking about using some new ways of providing training on digital engagement stuff to those working in public services – in tandem with the traditional approach that we are taking in our workshop tomorrow.

Webinars are something I’m looking into, and I’ve written about my experiences of running them previously. What I am looking at doing is something a little more structured over a period of time.

So, how about a twelve week course on digital engagement? One webinar per week on a chosen topic, with a private discussion space so everyone can talk to each other about the topic afterwards.

Here’s a draft list of weekly topics:

  1. Introduction to digital engagement
  2. Designing your strategy
  3. Designing a policy
  4. Operational engagement plans
  5. Managing risk
  6. Developing a Facebook page
  7. Effective organisational use of Twitter
  8. Blogging for organisations
  9. Crowdsourcing and online open innovation
  10. Social media for events
  11. Social media in a crisis
  12. Community building and sustainable engagement

Would this be something you or people in your organisation would be interested in?

Also… would you (or your organisation!) be willing to pay for it? How much?

Power lines

The RSA have just published a rather interesting paper that is well worth a flick through.

The paper argues that the government’s efforts to build the Big Society are too focused on citizen-led service delivery. An approach based on utilising and building people’s social networks, which largely determine our ability to create change and influence decisions that affect us, may prove more effective.

I’ve embedded it below, but if for whatever reason you can’t see it, you can download it from here (PDF warning).

RSA Power Lines

Thank you, LocalGovCamp sponsors!

Since my last desperate begging funding drive, several companies and organisations have leapt to support LocalGovCamp, namely:

Many thanks to them. They join those who had already stuck their hands in their pockets:

We’re still not quite there yet though, and if anyone out there still has a bit of marketing budget they’d like to lavish on the coolest (ok, joint coolest with the FutureGov stuff…) event in local government, please do get in touch.

‘Official’ local gov blogging

Simon writes a nice post celebrating the existence of the new official BIS blog, and provides a handy list of existing Whitehall “formal, properly-designated corporate ‘blogs'”.

Here they are – I’ve also added UKTI’s blog to the list, which I’m sure Simon will do too on his when he gets a moment:

I’m pleased, because as I have written on many occasions, I think blogging is a fantastic way for organisations to tell their stories, unhindered by having to go through third parties, media organisations and that sort of thing.

As Simon makes clear, these are public, official blogs, corporately branded and not the personal blogs of civil servants or politicians, which is a quite different thing. So what makes a blog an official one like this? I’d say some, not necessarily all, of these are factors:

  • Use of corporate departmental or organisational branding
  • Sitting on the official domain of that organisation
  • Linked to (reasonably) prominently on the standard corporate homepage
  • Written by a group of people rather than an individual (or a collection of individuals’ blogs, like in the FCO case)

There probably are others too – please do suggest them in the comments.

I’d like to start looking at which local councils are blogging officially, like the central government examples above. At the bottom of this post, you should find a form to complete if you have any to submit. If you can’t see it, that might be because you are looking at this in an email or your feed reader. Viewing the original post is your best bet.

My next post on this topic will be on how we can get more blogging happening in this way, and perhaps what Kind of Digital can do to help! 😉

Bookmarks for April 28th through May 18th

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.