Tag Archives: social innovation

Exploring the Benefits of Learning from Failure at #LFFdigital

I have always been inspired by JK Rowling’s powerful Harvard commencement speech in which she discussed the fringe benefits of failure. As JK  said,”It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all in which case, you fail by default.”

We live in an age that relentlessly promotes innovation. However across the public sector our willingness to talk about risk and learn from failure has not kept pace. Whilst there seems to be consensus about the need to share learning many organisations are working in a  competitive funding environment which does not encourage this to happen. How can we create a space which encourages organisations to share the learning about projects which have not achieved their anticipated and desired outcomes and impact?

Our Practical Strategies for Learning from Failure workshop on the 5th August in Cardiff offers the opportunity for strategic thinkers who recognise that we need to learn how to deal with disappointments, mistakes and failures of all kinds.  It responds to the #PdDigital15 challenge “how can we unleash people-led digital innovation in health and wellbeing?” by helping to de-stigmatise failure and ‘what doesn’t work’ so we can adapt and move on more quickly.

The event is being facilitated by a unique team bringing perspectives from practice, research and different sectors.

We will be working with you to consider the following questions.

  • What are the costs of failure and how can we do things differently?
  • Why do we continue to reward the “wrong” activities?
  • What are the guiding principles to prepare for a new landscape with citizens at the centre?

There is no charge for the event, thanks to the people at #PdDigital15 and the Wales Audit Office so we expect everyone to make commitments to preparatory thinking, collaborative working, and follow-up.  We are doing this because we believe it is important to keep up critical momentum on the conversation.

You can register here

Once registered on this workshop you will need to complete a short questionnaire. It will take about 10 minutes and give you a flavour of the kinds of conversations we will have and provide valuable insights to inform the workshop.

The main outcome from the workshop is to begin a cross sector conversation about how to share the learning from failure across health , housing , care and the wider social sector.

If you are not able to attend the workshop but  would like to join in the conversation  on Twitter and share resources you have found useful we are using the hashtag #LFFdigital

(We are not officially announcing it yet but if you cannot come to Cardiff in August  we will be running another #LFFdigital workshop in Leeds on the 8th October)


Some #HseParty14 highlights

I was delighted to be at @hseparty in Manchester last week. The energy and creativity was in full flow over a very packed two days. Housing, like the health and care sectors, are confronting real challenges in terms of their role and how community services can be delivered most effectively. Thinking differently and exploring the potential of new collaborations and partnerships offers so many opportunities. To get a sense of the diversity of activities and debate have a look at the #hseparty14 Twitter stream.

The #powerplayers14 Awards dinner faithfully recorded by @johnpopham was a real celebration of the growing influence of digital technology and social media across the housing sector.  explains the thinking which informed the Power Players list and the role of super connectors.


The housing question time provoked much interest and debate. My feeling is that every event should now include a live streamed question time! Thanks to the excellent panel Anne McCrossan,  Nick AtkinCaroline KingJames Pargetter and to John Popham who suggested the idea and recorded the debate. Definitely worth watching.


“Co-production is the way forward” and how to communicate through balloons. Lovely lessons from the  Balloon Orchestra Workshop


Paul Taylor’s thoughts on “Do Housing Associations need Innovation Labs?” were shared at the Chartered Institute of Housing annual conference which was being held at the same time as House Party. Innovation and new ways of thinking were a constant theme at House Party so it was fascinating to see the debate generated by #dronegate which, in fairness, was only a small element of his presentation.


And finally a big thank you to Matt Leach from HACT and Esther Foreman from the Social Change Agency who had the vision and passion to make House Party such a success.






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


Our latest Disruptive Social Care podcasts!

Praise indeed!

How to keep up to date with news. innovations and events in care – my online roladex system!

Such a great interview with Dominic Campbell inspirational founder of Future Gov that we did not want to edit it but decided to give it to you in two parts!

And because it was so good a reminder of our interview with Paul Taylor Innovation Coach at Bromford!

Any questions for @dominiccampbell our next guest on the Disruptive Social Care podcast?

I am delighted to announce that Dominic Campbell will be our next guest on the Disruptive Social Care podcast. Dominic  is is a digital government specialist and social innovator with a background in government policy, communications and technology-led change.

Dominic was a keynote speaker at Kent Care in the Digital Age #kentdigicare held on the 12th July. He raised many challenging questions  about the importance of human relationships in public services and how people talk to each other. 

Dominic established FutureGov in early 2008 and has a keen interest in emerging uses of new media and “social” strategies to deliver public service transformation and social innovation.

The Panel Debate at #kentdigicare exploring “The Future of Personalisation? Service Users, Carers and Digital Engagement”

Dominic is also co-founder of several social web start-ups: · Patchwork a collaboration tool for multi-agency working, currently focused on children and families intervention · Casserole a peer to peer meals on wheels service Enabled by Design a community of people interested in Design for All.

We are inviting you to submit questions for discussion with Dominic by the 20th August 2013. Whilst we may not be able to cover all of the questions asked we will be summarising the key themes which arise. You can tweet your questions to @shirleyayres using the hashtag #deukcare or email: shirley.ayres56@googlemail.com


You can catch up with our previous guests on the Disruptive Social Care podcasts here!

You can watch recordings of the live stream videos from #kentdigicare here thanks to @johnpopham 

Children’s charity Whizz-Kidz launches free app to help thousands more disabled children

 The children’s charity Whizz-Kidz have launched an iPhone and Android app to support its mission to transform the lives of disabled children.

The App is the latest in a series of innovations by the dynamic children’s charity. For the first time, young wheelchair users will be able to use their mobile phones to support them getting vital mobility equipment faster and to access training and work placements that will enable them to be more confident and independent. They’ll be able to do all this using the smartphone app, at the touch of a button, wherever they are.

Whizz-Kidz CEO, Ruth Owen said: ‘There are an estimated 70,000 disabled children and young people in the UK currently waiting for appropriate mobility equipment, so it is vital that we use all available channels to reach them.

‘At Whizz-Kidz, we are relentlessly focussed on our users and the App is the latest in a series of Whizz-Kidz innovations which seeks to give disabled kids the childhood they deserve and a future full of potential.’

The App will help Whizz-Kidz to reach more people and let them know about Whizz-Kidz services: whether that’s applying for mobility equipment or accessing one of our added value services – ambassador clubs, wheelchair skills training, work placements and residential camps.

The Whizz-Kidz App features all the power chairs, manual chairs and buggies available through Whizz-Kidz, along with ratings given to them by other wheelchair users. Once a disabled child or young person has received their mobility equipment, they can add their own review too. 

The Whizz-Kidz App links to the online application process, which allows users to submit detailed and accurate information about their mobility needs.  The Whizz-Kidz App harnesses the location of users to offer them fundraising and volunteering opportunities near them.

The Whizz-Kidz App can be downloaded free of charge from the App Store or the Android Store by searching ‘Whizz-Kidz’ or by clicking on the links below:

App Store (for iPhone)

Play Store (for Android)

This app follows other initiatives to improve disabled young people’s independence and choice, such as Whizz-Kidz’s ‘Child in a Chair in a Day’ which means that in 70% of routine cases children are able to take their equipment home on the day of assessment. This is supported by its ‘Man in a Van’ mobile solution which assesses and delivers equipment at the users’ convenience.

 Whizz-Kidz transformed the lives of more than 3,000 disabled children and young people in the last year by providing appropriate wheelchairs at the right time, and opportunities to meet, have fun, work and learn key skills for life.

You can follow @WhizzKidz on Twitter

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 -http://beanbagsandbullsh1t.com/ – 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

Funding, Social Innovation and Social Care

This post was initially triggered by a Twitter discussion last week with Toby Blume chief executive of the Urban Forum who was attending the People Powered Change event #ppchange organised by the Big Lottery Fund. There have in recent months been a number of new social innovation initiatives with funding provided by diverse organisations. When I was running a charity I was very aware of the time and resources required to submit funding applications and to satisfy the funder’s requirement for demonstrating the outcomes of a project.

It feels like there is a real need for more joined up and connected thinking across the public, third, social enterprise and private sectors. The lines are becoming increasingly blurred in terms of who delivers front line public services. There is the real danger of duplication which was highlighted in the newly published Audit Commission report: Joining up health and social care Improving value for money across the interface.

As an example of the time being spent on submitting funding applications @DameHilaryBlume provided the following calculation. There were 1401 applications to the Silver Dreams Fund. Assuming 5 days work was required to complete the application that equates to 28 years of one person’s work. Rattling a tin for charity in the same time period could raise £1.4million assuming that £200 in donations could be raised in a 7 hour day.

@PeterWanless Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund responded by making the fair comment that “these figures assume a traditional application form and process. Silver Dreams is a call for ideas which organisations are then supported and paid to to develop. The serious investment will come when the best ideas are selected”.

It is worth looking at the Big Lottery Funding page. They are funding an impressive range of programmes across the UK and giving grants from £300 to over £500,000 to organisations ranging from small local groups to major national

Some of the recent funding initiatives relevant to social care (please feel free to add to the list)

The Silver Dreams Fund is pioneering ways to help vulnerable older people deal more effectively with life-changing events. The Big Lottery Fund is making a £110 million investment in older people in association with the Daily Mail.

Living Well with Dementia the Design Council and the Department of Health are running a competition to rethink life with dementia. The challenge is to help people with dementia and their carers live easier, better planned and more enjoyable lives. There were 150 applications and 5 ideas were selected which will be funded to deliver their working prototypes by March 2012.

Keeping Connected Business Challenge – the Design Council and the Technology Strategy Board competition to develop innovative services that keep older adults better connected through a £495,000 fund. 9 projects have been selected for stage 1 of the Keeping Connected Business Challenge

The Innovation in Giving Fund run by NESTA with the Office of Civil Society issued an open call for ideas to the £10m Innovation in Giving Fund. Proposals were invited which had the potential to deliver a significant increase in the giving and exchange of time, assets, skills, resources and money. They received well over 400 applications and shortlisted 62 applicants to go through to the next selection phase.

Interesting questions and thoughts were shared on Twitter from the People Powered Change event and it is worth reading the Storify of the Workshop @johnpopham

Some comments from Twitter:

@willperrin Lets have a giant discussion forum for people applying to lottery bidsavingexpert maybe
@cased: How do we use funding to build local networks at scale instead of creating 2 way dependency relationships?
@dansutch -171 thousand charities spend £2.6bn on fundraising and PR to get £4.5bn in individual donations-broken equation
@judehabib ‘it’s all about storytelling.. Charities can’t afford not to make most of their stories’
@Andy_Malone Exploring how grant funding can be more than just a source of finance and how it can help support community action

I would like to explore:

How all of these initiatives and projects are being embedded in local communities and what are the links being made with social services, health organisations and the Health and Wellbeing Boards?

Keeping track of all the social innovations in social care underway is a challenge – do we need a central portal which links all of the initiatives or as Will Perrin suggests a discussion forum to support organisations in making funding bides?

Would it make sense to try and standardise funding applications?

I have been told by many small organisations that they are unaware of, and have difficulty in keeping track of, all the funding initiatives. I have promoted the excellent NCVO Funding Central guide to grants, contracts and loans which includes a regular eletter.

How else can we help signpost the information and advice that is available?

Would it be useful to research how much time organisations are spending on funding applications generally? The resources required to submit funding applications is a big issue especially for small and start up organisations.

I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of people who use services and carers organisations about their involvement in these projects and what other support services they would like to see being developed.