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People Powered Change – a real movement, or another talking shop?

Dec 1st, 2011 • Category: News

Blog post from Mark Ellis, sounddelivery Senior Producer



What do you get if you cram a bunch of social entrepreneurs, charity funders and all round do-gooders into a small room in central London?  Well it was all there to see at the People Powered Change Event organised by the Big Lottery Fund and facilitated by David Wilcox and John Popham, aka the social reporterssounddelivery was invited to join a select group including representatives from UnLtd, NESTA, the Nominet Trust, Your Square Mile and the Young Foundation (to name just a few) to discuss BIG’s challenges for the future.

After a presentation from BIG’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Linda Quinn, we were tasked to examine a range of ideas to enhance BIG’s current operation.  Everything from Network Building to creating a Social App Store were tossed into the air and either grabbed by an unsuspecting delegate or dumped in the bin.  I gravitated towards a number of issues – improving Internal BIG comms and Socialising Evaluations.  It might not look like much but the picture to the right is what my group came up with: a model for making the evaluation process much more transparent.  It was a challenge to pull all our ideas together and of course people were coming from different perspectives.  The funders amongst us were slightly reticent to allow the evaluation to be so open and visible to the world, while accepting this would be useful for applicants and could lead to less paperwork.

Alice Casey from NESTA talked about one of her pilot projects which involve projects blogging their way through the ups and downs and highlighting success stories along the way.  She argued it was a trial but has been fantastic to get real stories from the frontline and content has ranged from written blogs to pictures and video.  sounddelivery recently ran a social reporting project for Nesta’s Neighbourhood Challenge project to encourage storytelling in the field.

What I think is important with an approach like this is that funders recognise the need to train their funded projects in these social media skills and tell their stories in their own ways and in their own words.  Not everyone is twitter-savvy and ready to jump into a wordpress blog.  At one of the recent training courses I ran at least half of the delegates had never seen YouTube let alone sent a tweet.  I feel this is where organisations like sounddelivery have a role to support and train people in using these tools so they can feel confident to contribute to the many online conversations.

The People Powered Change project is soon coming to an end and all the research from the many workshops will be gathered together into a full and comprehensive report.  The aim is that BIG then discusses this in 2012 with an aim of working out how to take on some if these ideas.  We look forward to being part of this conversation.  So watch this space!


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