Tag Archives: connected communities

Join our social conversation at @HseParty on the 25th June

This week I am attending HouseParty the first ever unofficial housing fringe bringing together grassroots housing and social change-makers to explore, showcase and discuss the latest innovations in UK housing and beyond organised by  and . Have a look at the innovative programme and follow  to understand what has inspired  . My one regret is that the health and social care sectors have not seized this opportunity to engage with housing colleagues in addressing the challenges of community engagement and digital inclusion.

On Wednesday 25th June at 9.30  and I will be contributing to   by having a very social conversation and we would love you to join us using the hashtag #socialconvo. Helen, Paul and I come from very different backgrounds but we share a belief  that being social is about sharing generously, creating relationships and seeking new collaborations.

Paul has shared 10 Things We Learned About Behaviours From  in this rather stunning presentation.


Our first #socialconvo was held in London where , Paul and I discussed how social media can be used for social good.  As Mark so delightfully puts it “how do you move social media from a broadcasting medium to a space where relationships grow and where, sometimes, magic things happen?”

I have long been a fan of Erik Qualmann and his powerful and very popular videos which provides statistics about the global influence of social media. As Erik says “it is not a question now about whether you should be involved in social media but how well you do it” 

It was great to see Erik respond on Twitter to Paul’s comment that “the clip turns as many CEOs off as it excites”

”   thanks Paul. If you know specific CEOs let me know – I may know them – it will help the next edit”

Just in case you have not seen the latest Socialnomics video!


Helen, Paul and I hope you will join us on Wednesday 25th June at 9.30 to explore “How social is your organisation and what investment do you need to make to become an influencer in the increasingly crowded social space?” We welcome your thoughts, comments and questions via #socialconvo!

PS: Congratulations are definitely in order for  who was number one on the #powerplayers14 list and who recently won the local government category of the Digital Leaders 100 Awards.

If you would like to explore the benefits of having a social conversation in your organisation do get in touch!

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?

Reflections 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


Videos from Connected Care Camp #psicare with thanks to @TomSprints

The first breakout session at #psicare invited people to explore the problems and challenges for connected care which had been identified through discussions and the online survey. Each group was asked to feedback their action points.

Social Isolation and Loneliness


User and patient engagement and the personalisation of services


Information, Advice and Support


Digital Literacy, Inclusion and Technology Barriers


Connected Communities


The challenges of Integrated Care


The first session of the afternoon invited participants to pitch ideas for discussion. This is the feedback from the very diverse discussions which ranged from data driven social care to “are we rushing towards technology rather than people for social solutions?” with an action point (or two) from each of the groups.


Thoughts about social work, housing and integrated working – a guest post @tomemurtha

Integrated working and multi-disciplinary teams are not new in the housing world. In 1976 as a newly qualified teacher I started my housing career in Leicester’s Renewal Strategy Team under the leadership of John Perry. The Team comprised of many disciplines including social workers. The reason was quite simple. Urban renewal and housing is as much about people and communities as it is about bricks and mortar. This point is in danger of becoming lost in the current housing environment.

Recently I was asked to give a talk to a group of trainee social workers at my alma mater Goldsmiths College in London. The subject was a career in housing. I was surprised to see that a majority of the audience had not considered this as it seems to me that the qualities of a good social worker especially those relating to empathy and understanding are exactly what are required in housing today.

I used two periods in my career to make my case. My first job as a housing manager was with an organisation called Coventry Churches Housing Association which is now part of Midland Heart. The housing management team which was then called the tenant support team was made up of people with a housing, social work and a community work background. This is what attracted me to the post. From its origins CCHA had realised that all of these skills were required in order to offer real support for people and communities. I believe that this is as true today as it was then and that there are real opportunities in housing for people with a social work background. In fact the values and passion that often motivate people to consider a career in social work are exactly the values of the pioneers of the social housing sector. These values are required even more in this period of austerity as the demands for our services grow daily

My time as Chief Executive of Midland Heart, one of the largest housing and care social businesses in the country, showed the importance of these qualities even more. People with a social work background played an important role in many of our teams. Specialist social workers were employed in our care and support teams, working with people with learning disabilities, people with mental health issues, young people, and homeless people. Others worked in our extra care schemes and in our services for older people. You might argue that you would expect to see this and you would be correct. However the extent and diversity of our services in care and support and the opportunities offered are often unknown to the non-housing world.

More generic social workers also played a part in our housing management teams. Some doing very specialist work on family intervention project and others providing general housing management support, often working in the most deprived neighbourhoods and communities. I believe that there is no greater career than that offered in the housing and care sector.  There are not many professions where you can honestly say that your job does make a difference and that you help transform lives and communities. Throughout my career I have watched many do this and I am proud to have worked with such wonderful and inspiring people, who often made the extra-ordinary, appear ordinary.

About the author: Tom Murtha is a retired CEO and Chair of HACT – ideas and innovation in UK housing. Tom tweets as @tomemurtha