Monthly Archives: January 2013

Highlights from the 30 Hour Novel marathon #NaNoWriWee

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Write a novel in 30 hours how could I resist this invitation from Kernel? Helpfully linked with a Guardian guide to writing a novel in a month.

On the 25th January 15 people assembled around 7.30 in the Kernel office to start the 30 hour novel writing marathon. I was one of them. It was a great  experience and it was encouraging to see how quickly the group bonded sharing tips, encouraging thoughts and discussing their individual challenges. The different approaches taken by this diverse group were fascinating. Thanks to @SusyPote  who kept us well fed and watered over two long days.

A bonus for me was meeting Jeremy Wilson who shares my astonishment that technology companies are not doing more to enrich the lives of older people.

Some of the highlights  which were shared on Twitter. Do feel free to add your favourite in the comments box!

A big thank you to Kernel for running this innovative event. I did not manage to finish my novella but there was so much learning from taking part. Congratulations to everyone who has submitted their novels by the deadline. I will  update when the public voting for the winning novel starts tomorrow.

Lessons for the Care Sector?

How to move from thinking to doing in 30 hours. There was so much energy and focus from everyone I spoke to about being involved in #NaNoWriWee. I am left wondering what could be achieved for care if we gathered together a group of motivated and inspired people from across the care sector for two days with a radical brief to redesign the care, health and care systems which any one of us may need!

What is your big question about social impact? Join the #hubmsi debate

On the 24th January I am be chairing a debate about the Challenge of Measuring Social Impact at Hub Westminster. If you wish to contribute to the debate online please use the hashtag #hubmsi.

There has been a lot of discussion and numerous reports written about the value of measuring social impact alongside many challenges about understanding the relevance and influence of social impact. According to New Philanthropy Capital  75% of charities measure some or all of their work, and nearly three-quarters have invested more in measuring results over the last five years.

Providing evidence of your organisation’s social impact has become increasingly important. Most charities cite requirements from outside funders as the key driver for measuring impact, as well as the wish to tell stakeholders about the social value they generate. The public sector and charities are inextricably linked and a number of social enterprises are reliant on public funding either through contracts or grants.

Complex social problems require a collaborative approach across many sectors. Being able to demonstrate your social impact and social value are essential to maintain public and political support in these challenging times.  I invited people on Twitter to submit their one big question about social impact and received the following responses:

Panelists have contributed their thoughts in advance of the debate Social Impact Assessment in India @pathik10

How do I measure social impact? My answer @Brownsdon

Challenging thoughts about measuring social impact @davidsocialsp

“Is it useful for social impact to measured using systems – such as SROI – that attempt to put cash figures on the social impact generated by particularly activities?”

“What role does social impact measurement play in the overall battle for resources? Should resources be targetted at generating the greatest possible volume of positive social impact – if we were in the position to agree on what that meant – or are certain types of positive social impact a higher priority than others?”

Some recommended reading and resources about social impact measurement

Evaluation on the (Cognitive and Digital) Edge Keiron Kirkland Nominet Trust

Measurement a force for good? Daniel Robinson Nominet Trust (mentions two measurement tools)

Social Impact Investing Will Be the New Venture Capital – but how do you measure it? Big Society Capital

Making an Impact New Philanthropy Capital

Evidence Standards for Impact Investment Nesta Impact Investment Fund

A Guide to Social Return on Investment The SROI Network

‘Measuring Up’ a new pilot self-assessment tool to improve  planning, monitoring and evaluation Charity Evaluation Services

Measuring and Demonstrating Impact Guardian Social Enterprise Network (December 2012)

In case you don’t understand social impact tech terms I recommend reading Jargonbuster from @CESonline 

Quantifying social costs in financial terms has always been a point of contention, and there is also a debate about whether the social sector needs to agree a common standard for measuring social impact. Do share your favourite assessment tools and recommend your favourite reading and resources. 

Can Twitter make our care and social work organisations more “social”?

twitter“Social media is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. All the time online conversations are happening about you, your brand and your organisation. It’s not a choice whether you DO social media, the choice is how well you do it” Erik Qualman author of socialnomics.

Social networking has the potential to put the “social” back into social work and social care. So it is sad to note how few care organisations are actually engaged and using social media to communicate and debate with an increasingly diverse group of stakeholders. Children and adult care is on the edge and urgently needs public support to show politicians that there is widespread support for properly funding the services which  millions of people rely on daily. How could we be using social media to counter the negative media perceptions  and reporting about social work and care services?

Twitter is a rich source of instantly updated information and it is how I stay updated on an incredibly wide variety of topics. What makes a care tweeter valuable? Generously sharing knowledge, passions and links to useful resources and blogs. Listening, challenging, informing and making a difference.

If you are an organisation funded to engage with the public you need a strategy for responding to questions and comments online. This should include contact details for senior staff which is available on your website.

What is a turn off? Broadcasting, constantly selling and promoting yourself, not listening or interested in conversations which may be critical of your organisation. Having a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn profile  and rarely updating shows a real lack of interest in being social. I will leave you to judge how social our care tweeters are!

This should be a simple request but…. it does require an understanding of the complicated and fragmented social work and social care sectors. Care services are provided by a diverse range of providers including local authorities, health, housing, charities, social enterprises and the private sector. This list focuses on organisations and individuals who have a specific social work or social care brief.

Who is currently using Twitter?

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services @ADASSdclode

Eddie Clarke Director Adult Social Services Worcestershire @eddiec10 

Sarah Pickup President ADASS and Director Hertfordshire @adassspickup

Sherry Malik Director of Children & Adults, LB Hounslow @sherry_malik 

Lorna Payne Group Director Adults and Health LB Havering @Lorna_Payne

Barnet Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Service @lbbadults 

Sean McLaughlin Director of Housing and Adult Social Services @SeanMcLaughlin

Simon Birch Director of Social Services in Monmouthshire @MCCSimonBurch

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services are not using Twitter  

Dave Hill Director of Children’s Services Essex County Council @DCSEssex 

Social Care Service Managers 

James Lampert Social care Commisioner Kent County Council  @uk_james

Guy Stenson  Service manager (planning & partnerships), Children, Adults and  Health South Gloucestershire Council @guystenson

British Association of Social Workers @BASW_UK

Awaiting confirmation of whether the Chair and CEO are using Twitter

Care Quality Commission @CareQualityComm

Chair David Prior and CEO David Behan are not using Twitter

Care Providers

Bill Mumford CEO Macintyre, Chair of VODG and on @TLAP1 Board  @billatmacintyre 

Centre for Workforce Intelligence  @C4WI 

Peter Sharp CEO @CfWICEO

Rhidian Hughes Head of Social Care @rhidianhughes

Children’s Commissioner for England

Maggie Atkinson @ChildrensComm

College of Social Work @CollegeofSW 

Awaiting confirmation of whether the Co-Chairs and Interim CEO are using Twitter

Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs) 

Rich Watts National Lead for Disabled People’s User Led Organisations (DPULOs) @rich_w 

Kings Fund @RichardatKF  Senior Fellow

National Skills Academy for Social Care @NSASocialCare

Awaiting confirmation of whether the Chair and CEO are using Twitter

Skills for Care @skillsforcare

A disappointing response especially when there is a lack of clarity about the role of Skills for Care and the planned amalgamation with the National Skills Academy for Social Care.

Social Care Institute for Excellence @SCIE_socialcare

Current Chair not on Twitter

CEO Andrea Sutcliffe @Crouchendtiger7

Think Local Act Personal Partnership @TLAP1

Programme Director Sam Bennett @samhbenn 

Scotland (links thanks to @jonbolton )


Care Council for Wales @CareCouncil 

No doubt I will be adding to the list. Do let me know if I have missed any  social care tweeters you feel I should add to the list.

Social Networking Basics for Care Organisations

“For the first time we have the social tools to make group action a reality. And they’re going to change our whole world” Clay Shirky Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008)

If people have a choice about who is delivering their care services would they chose your organisation? The chill winds of budget cuts and redundancies along with increasing expectations and more connected communities mean that public services are under considerable scrutiny. The need for a culture of innovation and creativity is essential if we are to meet the challenges and aspirations for improved care services. In some ways it is frustrating to reflect on the lack of progress since the publication of my report on “The future for personalisation? Service users, carers and digital engagement” by IRISS in August 2011.

Social networking, social learning and the use of mobile technology have an increasingly important role in the care sector. Digital networks are enabling different forms of collective action and collaborative groups are being formed which connect and support people across the world. How many networks is your organisation involved with?

“The cost of all kinds of group activity has fallen dramatically and social tools provide the capacity for action by loosely structured groups, operating without managerial direction and outside the profit motive”
Clay Shirky

There are an increasing range of different tools available which include: twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, flickr, slideshare, blogs, webinars, podcasts etc. The tools are simply a way of enabling people to share,co-operate and collaborate. These tools used creatively will complement each other but they do need to be used strategically and to make sense for your organisation and audience.

Social networking is about listening; engaging, providing value by solving problems and answering questions and building relationships. An increasing number of people are using online forums to share thoughts and ideas about good practice across the care sector. Are you evaluating how your organisation is using social media to extend participation, provide information and collaborate with similar organizations?

“No decision about me without me” With the promise of more control and choice in both health and care services there is a growing expectation of honesty, openness and transparency in transactions between citizens and public organisations. Used solely as a broadcast channel social media will not have any significant or positive impact about how people see your organisation. A few tweets, an e-letter, a forum on a website and joining groups without contributing to discussions do not constitute a social media strategy. Do you know where people are already having conversations about social care on the internet?

Developing social media activities is an important part of building a presence and a profile on the internet. But social networking using social media tools will need to become part of the DNA of the whole organisation, led, supported and endorsed by the senior management team. This can involve a substantial mind shift within organisations who see social media solely as a broadcasting and/or marketing channel.

Action Points

1. Undertake a review of your current communications activities including websites, blogs, published materials and events.
Decide what it is you want to achieve and explore how social networking will contribute to your communications and stakeholder engagement strategy. How effective are your current activities, how do you know what is working well, who are your customers and what is the added value you offer?

2. Develop a social media and social learning policy in consultation with staff and stakeholders

3. Provide social media workshops to help all staff become familiar with and confident in using social media tools. Encourage feedback and suggestions about how you can improve internal and external communications.

4. Measure and evaluate the return on your investment in social media activities including google alerts and google anlaytics
Social media has challenged organisations to embrace new ways of connecting and communicating, demanding greater openness, transparency and engagement. What is the potential Return On Investment (ROI) of an approach to social media which develops real relationships with stakeholders?

There is a lot of learning and risk associated with launching a public blog. Easily accessible, relevant and timely information on your website is essential. Invite feedback about your website. Be prepared for discussions and conversations which you cannot control but from which there can be considerable learning for the organisation. Be prepared to respond to questions and criticism.

Social networking, in many ways, is all about learning. Social media is one of the most powerful ways to understand what we do and why, learn as we go, and share what we learn with others. Every day conversations are taking place across the internet about social work and social care. Do you know what is being said about leadership, social care, services for children, workforce development, social learning and commissioning in the care sector? A good starting point is the informative post 7 reasons to launch an internal blog before going public.

About Shirley Ayres The Japanese have a word “Kaizen” which translated means “the gathering of the wisdom of the people” As a knowledge management and communications consultancy we have particular expertise in developing social networks and social learning with an unrivaled and in depth knowledge of the care sector. We advise and review public, private and non profit organisations communication & digital engagement strategies.

Why is measuring social impact so challenging?

On the 24th January I will be chairing a debate about the Challenge of Measuring Social Impact at Hub Westminster.

There has been a lot of discussion and numerous reports written about the value of measuring social impact but alongside this are many challenges. What is social impact, how can it be measured and does it influence funding decisions? If the major funders worked more collaboratively would this help small organisations with limited resources be more successful in funding applications? Controversially whilst the focus has been on charities and social enterprises demonstrating their social impact should all publicly funded bodies including central and local government and universities be required to show how their activities are adding social value?

Social investors state that measuring the impact of the products or services is just as important as increasing the capacity of an organisation to actually deliver the product or service, but what does this mean in practice?

How are organisations developing the evidence that a particular product or service is having a positive impact, to ensure that what is being funded is making a difference?

This debate invites a range of speakers involved with social impact to contribute a 5 – 10 minute presentation followed by an open debate with the audience. We are encouraging all of the panelists to post their thoughts and share good resources before the debate.


Indy Johar is an architect and co-founding director of 00:/, Hub Westminster and most recently the A-Fund. His current work is focused on practially prototyping & designing the new economics of place and 21st Century institutions. Indy was a founding Director of the global Hub Association and co-founder of Hub Westminster. He is an associate of the think-tank Demos and a fellow of Respublica. Indy is a co-author of the ‘Compendium for the Civic Economy’. He has written for many national and international journals on the future of design, social venturing and practice. @indy_johar

Pathik Pathak is Director of Social Enterprise Research Network at the University of Southampton. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a regular commentator on social economy both in the UK and India for The Guardian, The Hindustan Times and the Times of India. Prior to his appointment at Southampton he ran a successful social enterprise in Mumbai. He is currently working on a research project on social impact assessment among early stage social entrepreneurs. @pathik10

Sam Matthews is Acting Chief Executive Charity Evaluation Services
For over 10 years she has been the organisation’s senior expert advisor on quality management in the third sector. She is a co-author of the PQASSO quality standards used by over 14,000 organisations within the UK and abroad. PQASSO now offers a nationally recognised external accreditation award. Sam has worked with a wide variety of organisations to develop quality management practice, and is the author of a number of bespoke quality standards and assessment tools. @CESonline

David Floyd is Managing Director of Social Spider CIC, a small social enterprise based in Walthamstow, East London. He writes the leading enterprise blog, Beanbags and Bullshit - – and also writes the ‘Mythbuster’ column for The Guardian’s Social Enterprise Network. David is a trustee of Voluntary Action Waltham Forest and Urban Forum, and a fellow of the RSA and the School for Social Entrepreneurs. He is a member of the governing council of Social Enterprise UK. @davidsocialsp

Joe Ludlow is Impact Investment Director at Nesta. He joined Nesta in 2010 to lead its work on social venturing and investment, and launched Nesta Impact Investments a £25m early stage investment fund for social ventures in October 2012. Nesta Impact Investments has a particular focus on the use of evidence in assessing the impact of ventures. Joe has been active in impact investment since 2005, previously working at CAF Venturesome. @joeludlow

I want to involve a wider audience in exploring the issues around implementing social impact measures. Please feel free to share your questions for the panel and useful resources using the Twitter hashtag #hubmsi