Social conversations, social media and social good

You may have picked up that Mark Brown  Paul Taylor   and I are running an event on the 29th April in Central London. We are exploring “What can social media do to make social good better?”


What makes it special for me is that Mark, Paul and I come from very different backgrounds but we have a shared interest in how social media is defining care, support and community engagement both online and offline in the digital age. We are also exploring what it means to be a social business and the importance of seeing social media  as part of a core vision to transform your business rather than a marginal activity. 

We are delighted that we already received sponsorship for a place at the event which has been awarded to Alison Cameron @allyc375. If you  would like to sponsor a place at the event do get in touch!  We look forward to discussing the questions submitted by participants and via Twitter.

Whether you work in the public, private, charity or social enterprise sectors understanding the impact of social media for social good is now essential. We do hope you will join us on the 29th April for a very social conversation. You can follow the discussion on Twitter using the hahtag #socialconvo. Following the considerable interest in my post “Is social media putting the ‘social’ back into care” we particularly welcome people from the care sector interested  why “Social media is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate” .

Our conversations started when Stu Arnott @MindingsStu and I interviewed Mark and Paul for the Disruptive Social Care podcast. The podcasts have been downloaded thousands of times but just in case you missed these interviews…….

Mark Brown has been described as one of the smartest thinkers in the worlds of social media and mental health. Mark edits One in Four, England’s only national mental health and wellbeing magazine written by people who experience mental health difficulties. Mark is a director of Social Spider a community interest company helping people to make change happen. 


Paul Taylor specialises on Innovation, Service Design and Research
and Development at Bromford a social business providing homes and support to over 80,000 people. Paul leads the Innovation Lab and he is particularly interested in the development of preventative social solutions and the power of technology to connect people. Paul was a key part of the team who developed the Bromford Deal which aims to shift resources away from reactive interventions and into more person centred customer care and support.


We look forward to you joining us on the 29th April to be part of a very social conversation 

Keep it simple Make it beautiful Have fun – sharing through @HaikuDeck

Last year I was very touched to be presented with a Haiku Deck celebrating #60yearsoflearning from @paulbromford. I am sure we are all aware that the “social space” is becoming very crowded  and standing out from the crowd can be quite challenging. Haiku Deck is an easy way of putting together brief messages or presentations. The philosophy is: “Keep it simple Make it beautiful Have fun”.

I have been reading the excellent Powerpoint Surgery book by   and what really stands out for me is the impact of visual images rather than lots of text which is impossible to read on a powerpoint! I hope the following Haiku Decks will give you some ideas for new ways of presenting your thoughts and ideas.

Paul and I are very aware of how important it is to share knowledge and information especially for people new to social media and we decided to create one new presentation a month throughout 2014.

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

Paul inspired me to explore the potential of Haiku Deck with the following presentation which has now had an impressive 85,939 view.

If you are thinking of starting a blog these top tips from  will hopefully inspire you!

Hot tip – add your Haiku Deck on slideshare and you will reach an even bigger audience!

Mark Brown (@markoneinfour), Shirley Ayres (@shirleyayres) and Paul Taylor (@paulbromford) will be discussing “what can social media do to make social good better?” on the 29th April in Central London. You can book a ticket for the event here







Can you help @Chill4usCarers?


 I have long been a supporter of the inspiring Wendy Maxwell (pictured) and Chill 4 Us Carers who provide a unique online community for carers which is run by carers all of whom contribute their time on a voluntary basis. The site has a 24-hour forum and chat room where members can post messages or reach out when they feel under pressure, there is an archive with games for members to play at all times of the day or night and issues can be discussed privately, without details being available to view online.

As Wendy says  “You can become a carer in an instant and when it happens to you, you can suddenly find yourself in a very difficult situation. You’ve got someone to look after who is ill, you need to find help and yet you’re stuck in your house. That’s when the internet can make all the difference.

“When you are a carer, it can be frightening and you can feel very alone – we are the only peer support group for carers in the UK and it’s vital that people have somewhere they can go to talk to other people: they may not have the chance to speak to anyone else at all, otherwise.”

Chill 4 Us Carers needs your help to survive because it is starved of funding. With hundreds of members across the country Wendy is passionate about bringing the outside world to those stuck inside four walls and has campaigned tirelessly to give computers to those who can’t afford them.

The innovative Computers for Carers scheme provides free laptops which are given to carers and offers a lifeline for those who need them most. Wendy is asking anyone who has a working laptop which they no longer need to donate it to the organisation so they can give it to a carer.

She is also hoping to raise the necessary £5,000 to turn Chill 4 Us into a registered charity which would make future fundraising and grant applications far simpler and is also looking towards a time when she could hand the reins to another member to run the sites. Charity status would mean the organisation could look to a future where a paid member of staff could run the site for a few hours every day, from home.

Read the full article here: Can you help to bring the outside world into the live of those unable to leave their home?

If you would like to make a donation, contact Wendy through the Chill 4 Us website or onTwitter or Facebook.

Introducing the Connected Care Network

In these challenging times we need a new vision which acknowledges the importance of bringing people together and using the power of digital technology to build and support more connected communities.

Care and support in the 21st century requires much more connected thinking across social services, health, housing, education and employment. Technology and social media can facilitate this process.

The Connected Care Network works across sectors exploring how innovation and new ways of thinking can be embedded and supported within communities.

There are hundreds of digital technology innovations being developed and supported by a range of funders. Paradoxically we are not using technology to make these innovations more accessible and available to an increasingly diverse market which includes individual citizens, commissioners and providers of community support.

Find out what happened at

 #kentdigicare a milestone for connected care?

Reflection on Connected Care Camp #psicare

#caregoesocial some thoughts on the journey

We need a mindshift away from a focus on technology as a means to an end and to think about how technology can help address the challenges .of our age which include social isolation, loneliness, supporting people living with dementia and their carers, developing the skill and talent of young people and creating communities we all want to live in.

We have developed a range of programmes in response to many discussions with clients about gaps in the market for connecting innovations and digital technology with the individuals, communities and organisations who would benefit from new ways of thinking and providing services.

We also provide Critical Friend Reviews to help organisations focus on their priorities for digital engagement.

These are exciting times. As Professor Stephen Hawking said, when accepting his AbilityNet ‘Excellence in Accessibility Award’ at the Technology4Good awards “Technology is a vital part of human existence. They show us that the right tools in the right hands can help everyone, regardless of our frailties, to achieve our true potential and advance as a civilisation.”

Find  out how we can help your organisation in creating new collaborations and partnerships.  If you would like to find out more I would be very happy to talk to you!

@shirleyayres on Twitter

A lesson in simplicity from Autism Service Quality

  The new Care Bill places responsibilities on local authorities to develop services that are more personalised ensuring that adults and carers get better care and support that works for them. People struggle to find information and support which suits their individual circumstances. When I was asked by Gary Beckwith  to comment on his new website I was impressed by the simple functionality, user experience and design.

As Paul Taylor commented:

Here Gary talks about his hopes for Autism Service Quality

I’ve worked in services supporting people on the autism spectrum for the last 20 years. When I left my role as an Advisor for Autism Accreditation I wanted to find out ‘what mattered most’ to the autism community and in doing so I started to develop the Autism Service Quality website. The idea has grown beyond a simple gathering of information, into creating a website that promotes and communicates an autism community ‘Voice’. The website is designed to assist people with autism to make informed choices about the services which will enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. I have also been working with a local charity called Autism Bedfordshire who have provided lots of feedback as the website has developed.

In defining service quality, we suggest that it is “the amount of confidence a customer or consumer has in a service meeting their requirements”.

There are an estimated 700,000 people with autism in the UK. If we include parents, carers and supporting professionals as part of the autism community, then the number of people affected by autism rises considerably. If you’re not on the autism spectrum yourself, you probably know someone that is.

Awareness of autism is greater than ever and increasingly services are making adjustments which recognise that people have different needs. For example relaxed performances are specifically designed to welcome people with a learning disability, Down’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Condition or sensory and communication disorders.  There is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement and some small changes made to the light and sound effects

I believe in social engagement; where service providers are open and transparent in their dealings with consumers. When eBay introduced its feedback system back in the mid 1990’s it revolutionised the relationship between ‘Buyers’ and ‘Sellers’. Feedback of this kind promoted empowerment and confidence in Buyers when making choices from who to buy from, and boosted Seller success:

“As of November 13, 2008, Jack Sheng was the first eBay seller to receive a Feedback score of one million. He currently has a score of over two million. It took Sheng eight years to earn a Feedback score of one million, but it only took him 18 months thereafter to reach two million.”


Is it time for more complex service encounters to receive the same level of scrutiny – particularly for a section of society with social and communication difficulties? Autism Service Quality has been designed to ask one question “What Matters Most?” when using any type of service.

The website was launched in December 2013 and we are now asking a range of service providers in the UK to register and share their profile page with the autism community to learn “What Matters Most”. Services can learn a lot from the rich and diverse autism community.

If you provide a service in the following areas we would like to invite you to test the website:

  • Social Work Teams
  • Healthcare departments and GPs
  • Schools and Adult Education
  • Housing and accommodation services
  • Training providers
  • Employers and employment support
  • Service brokers
  • Therapeutic and wellbeing services
  • Cafés, cinemas, leisure centres, theatres, mobile hairdressers and music tutors!

Please contact if you would like to discuss partnering with Autism Service Quality

Gary Beckwith MCQI CQP  @AutismSQ

Director, Autism Service Quality