The Big Idea: The New Cross area of south London could gain a new arts space. A previously closed public library has re-opened as New Cross Learning, inspiring and uplifting thousands of local users. Catherine Shovlin FRSA has launched a crowdfunding campaign to develop a creative arts space working with the local community…
Over the last 10 years we, Artmongers, have been stirring things up in Deptford and New Cross, South London with thought-provoking public art that changes the way people relate to space. Now we want to create New Cross’s first public artspace: a giant 3D lightbox on the ceiling of New Cross Learning. We will work together with local groups, running workshops to create multimedia artworks that change every six months. Central to our aim, we will be collaborating with emerging artists in our local community as well as school children, community groups and Goldsmiths students. To do this, we need to raise nearly £5k.
This is where we need your help. Through RSA Catalyst we have launched a crowdfunding campaign, Looking up in New X, to raise the funds needed to bring a much needed art space to the New Cross area – and we have ten days left to go!
The story so far
Since it opened in 2011, New Cross Learning has quickly developed into a vibrant community hub. Locals go there for books of course, but also for computer access, street dance, poetry group, baby bounce, community meetings, training sessions, Chinese dragon making workshops and much more.
The front of the building got a great facelift in 2012 (thanks to RSA Catalyst and the Funding Network) with a participatory artwork that marked the beginning of community ownership and involvement. Now we want to do something about the inside. New Cross doesn’t have a public art space so we are raising money to make this happen.
Last year’s flash mob on the A2 (for those outside London, the A2 is a major road connecting London with Kent) highlighted the challenges pedestrians face getting from one side of New Cross to the other. We didn’t break any traffic rules but we definitely caused a stir. And this year’s campaign to plant 1000 sunflowers has involved hundreds of school children, Goldsmiths University, local businesses and community groups. It brightened up the place and more importantly it encouraged people to realise the possibility that it is our environment and we can choose how it is. Then recently we worked with another RSA supported project – Talk to Me London to create unexpected creative interventions at bus stops in New Cross including a disco.
Taking back ownership of public space encourages all sorts of social benefits – not least the improved sense of well-being while you’re taking part.
Taking back ownership of public space encourages all sorts of social benefits – not least the improved sense of well-being while you’re taking part. Enough downcast acquiescence, people in New Cross are ready to LOOK UP and improve their public spaces for themselves. Backers get to be part of the creative process, and some will even get a piece of art for their home. Most importantly, those who support this project will know that they are part of transforming an area and empowering local residents.
How you can get involved
Those living around New Cross will know how much community spirit there is in the area. We want to give something back and give local residents the chance to express themselves through art – and in a local space everyone can enjoy.
We need your help to make this happen. Please visit the RSA crowdfunding page and find our project - Looking up in New X – and help us to reach our target. If you would like to get involved in the project or would like to visit us in New Cross, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter.
Catherine Shovlin FRSA
New Cross Learning and Artmongers
The Big Idea: Nalibeli is an online platform created by Blair Glencorse FRSA and Surabhi Pudasaini that helps citizens in Nepal to navigate complicated public services, and uses crowdsourcing to give people access to the information they need. Here, Blair explains more…
Accessing basic services, like obtaining a new passport or renewing a driver’s license, is a difficult, complicated and messy ordeal for citizens in Nepal. There is no clear and readily available information – of the sort taken for granted in a country like the UK, whose gov.uk website won Design of the Year award – to help Nepalis understand the services the government should provide. As a result, it can take numerous visits to offices and a great deal of confusion (and bribes) to navigate the administration.
That is why we’ve started a crowdfunding campaign on the RSA crowdfunding area to support our Nalibeli portal. Nalibeli (a Nepali word that gives a sense of understanding the intricate details of something) helps citizens navigate government and make more informed decisions about issues that affect their lives. With generous support from the RSA US Challenge fund and RSA Catalyst (which supported initial development, research and network-building on the ground) we are using web-based tools, like Facebook, to gather ideas on the problems that Nepalis care about. Then we are using our contacts across the country to organize, package an disburse relevant information through a wiki-tool (using MediaWiki, the free, open source wiki product that was evolved from Wikipedia).
The story so far
We’ve begun a massive outreach campaign around the country and despite our small budget, results so far have been impressive: Nalibeli has over 115,000 hits and over 400 pages of information on key services in both Nepali and English. We began with higher education and mapped information across over 60 college campuses and 38 faculties, and we’re now mapping services through District Administrative Offices (with which all Nepalis have to interact for obtaining birth certificates, marriage licenses and so on). We’ve held numerous “wiki-a-thons” at colleges in different parts of Nepal as well as numerous informal wiki-sessions to build a committed user base and demonstrate the importance of what we are doing; and we’ve built up a solid team of 5 people and an informal network of over a dozen institutions and organizations who, on a volunteer basis, give us their time and expertise.
All of this has taken just a few months. There have been challenges of course. Crowdsourcing information under difficult conditions has been harder than we thought it would be, and bridging the digital divide is proving tricky, but we are working on these problems and making fantastic progress. The wiki is fully functional and has a truly vibrant community developing around it. Now we need it go from a useful tool to the essential resource it should be for every Nepali citizen to ensure that the provision of government services is equal and fair for all.
The next stage of the project involves recruiting plenty more volunteers, scaling up the amount of information in the wiki to cover all public services, and greater outreach efforts to ensure the tool is as usable and accessible as possible. Friends from elsewhere have also indicated that Nalibeli would prove valuable in their countries – and we are keen to pilot it in other South Asian contexts and beyond. Citizens everywhere want reliable and up-to-date information on government, after all, even if the government itself is unable or unwilling to provide it.
How you can help
We’ve had tons of interest in the project from Fellows so far. We’d love to speak to any other Fellows in the technology field, with experience in crowd-sourcing information or who may have grown projects like this across issues and countries.
We’d also welcome any support for this next stage which you can do through the new RSA Kickstarter crowdfunding area. There are plenty of amazing pledge gifts up for grabs including Intercontinental Holistic Missiles (ICHMs) – collections of medicinal, cooking and other healthful herbs grown in Nepal (all in Nepali embroidered bags!); vedic astrology charts and much more! Please help us continue to build transparent and accountable government in Nepal.
Support ‘NaliBeli: Helping government work in Nepal’ by finding his Kickstarter campaign on the RSA curated area. To get in contact, email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @blairglencorse.
This is a guest blog from Sanderson Jones FRSA who along with Pippa Evans set up the Sunday Assembly. Sanderson blogs here about their plans for the next few months.
The Big Idea: Helping people live better, help often and wonder more through the Sunday Assembly
The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that celebrates life. Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfil their full potential. Our vision: a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one.
- Live Better. We aim to provide inspiring, thought-provoking and practical ideas that help people to live the lives they want to lead and be the people they want to be
- Help Often. Assemblies are communities of action building lives of purpose, encouraging us all to help anyone who needs it to support each other
- Wonder More. Hearing talks, singing as one, listening to readings and even playing games helps us to connect with each other and the awesome world we live in.
Since 250 people turned up at our first Assembly in January 2013, in a run-down deconsecrated church in North London, we’ve discovered that there is a massive desire across the country to celebrate life. By June we had over 600 people in our congregation and thousands of people have reacted to our motto of live better, help often, wonder more. We will have 30 Assemblies started by the end of this year and around 1600 people across the world have asked for their own Assembly.
We’ve discovered that there is a massive desire across the country to celebrate life
Supported by RSA Catalyst, the Sunday Assembly is now going on a global tour called 40 Dates and 40 Nights: The Roadshow. The plan: to launch 40 Assemblies in 40 nights across the UK, the US, Canada and Australia. We’re going to 29 cities including Oxford, Milton Keynes, Manchester, Dublin, New York, Chicago, Washington, Nashville, Adelaide and Sydney. The roadshow will be a launch-pad for local Assemblies, allow us to meet the local teams, and demonstrate what goes down at an Assembly: basically all the best parts of church (but with no religion).
Ultimately, we want to reach the 300 million people across the world who have no religion, but to do that we need to get digital.
40 Dates & 40 Nights: The Roadshow is coinciding with a crowdfunding campaign to raise the start-up funds needed to get a global movement and organisation off the ground. We are raising the capital to create a custom-designed, digital platform that will allow the millions of people who believe in good to connect with other like-minded people, and build wonderful life-giving congregations.
It is quite impressive that we’ll start 30 Assemblies in our first year, but if we were to have a site like this we can help start thousands.
We want RSA Fellows to get involved as volunteers and speakers, and to connect us with community projects
- To find people who would like to help organise a local Assembly
- To source inspiring speakers for the Sunday Assemblies themselves
- To find wonderful community action projects with which we could connect volunteers from our congregation. Each Assembly is going to be very focused on helping out in the community, so we’d love to hear from local community social enterprises and charities that are in need of volunteers or who could think of good partnerships.
Please watch our video below to find out more about our crowdfunding campaign. If the Sunday Assembly sounds interesting to you, I’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch.
This is a guest blog by Lisa Oulton FRSA. Lisa was awarded RSA Catalyst funding for her project to help young people start creative businesses, and is now seeking crowdfunding to run a Festival of Enterprise in November. You can support her campaign on Kickstarter.
The Big Idea: Student Makers’ Markets – street-based business training for young creatives
Creative young people are the most likely group to start up a business straight from education. They are often natural entrepreneurs: creative, innovative and visionary with immediately transferrable skills that lend themselves to self-employment. But they are also some of the least likely to have picked up the skills that they need to grow and sustain a business – failure rates are high – and the reality seems to be that once burnt these early starters often never return to entrepreneurship.
Youth entrepreneurship is being promoted and encouraged as a way of helping young people into the labour market and promoting job creation, but without business skills and resilience entrepreneurial inclination is no guarantee of success. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor research identifies that young people in Europe feel less confident about starting up a business than their global peers, with a strong fear of failure and belief that they are ill equipped to start a business.
With the support of RSA Catalyst and the Canterbury Festival’s Prosper Programme we have created Student Makers’ Markets, a street-based programme of business and entrepreneurial training. It gives young people a supported space to come and test their business with access to informal training, workshops and on-going mentoring whenever it’s needed.
We bring young entrepreneurs together to create vibrant mini-markets within established street markets, festivals and galleries. We supply free stalls and equipment for unemployed young people, graduates and school students from communities struggling with high levels of youth unemployment and other social and economic problems.
The ease of selling through online platforms like eBay, Etsy, Big Cartel and Facebook means that many young entrepreneurs are already trading from bedrooms, sheds and kitchen tables. We’ve been surprised at the range of businesses we’ve found, from complete beginners to established on-line shops. Our ethos is to look for the “bright spots”, inspired by the Heath brothers’ book Switch: we look for what’s working and how can we do more of it, the don’t solve problems – copy success.
Connecting young people already running successful businesses to those just starting out creates amazing enthusiasm: when young makers meet those of the same age who are making a living from their creative skills it shows them what’s possible. It has been extraordinarily exciting for everyone involved – the market traders, the business community and ourselves – to find just how much drive and talent is already out there.
We offer free business advice during the markets and we’ve been astounded at the requests so far. Our assumption was that our traders might ask about setting up a business, accessing government loans or writing a business plan. Instead, we are answering questions from young people about exporting to multiple countries, registering for VAT and employment versus outsourcing. Taking part in a rolling programme of markets and training means the young people can access learning when they feel they need it, from realising that they’re struggling to make sales at one market, to learning vital sales techniques before the next.
We want our young people to be excited not just by the opportunities that are open to them, but those which they can create themselves: to make their mark on their community, be visible and to inspire others.
We’re working in Kent and have been given an opportunity to extend our work into Folkestone to create a month long pop-up shop and Festival of Youth Enterprise. We’ve been given a beautiful old arcade building for the whole of December, where we are planning a programme of inspiring talks and workshops covering a wide range of subjects, from crowdfunding and social enterprise to printmaking and digital manufacturing. A production space will enable those without facilities to create work for the markets and a Christmas shop will enable everyone to sell what they make!
How you can get involved
In partnership with the RSA we have launched a crowdfunding campaign to support this initiative. The building we’ve been given is large and empty; we need to equip the production space and create a fabulous shop for visitors.
Our funding campaign is live on Kickstarter and we are aiming to raise £2,000 by 2 November. We would be very grateful if you could pledge your support, or help spread the word by sharing our campaign with your contacts. To find out more please contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via Twitter @StudentMakers.
Take advantage of a special launch offer to the first 200 crowdfunding pledges made by RSA Fellows. The RSA will match the campaign(s) you have backed to a maximum of £10 if you tell your network which project you’ve backed via: a comment in the RSA Fellows LinkedIn group discussion on crowdfunding; tweeting using the #RSACrowdfunding hashtag; posting a status update on the RSA’s facebook group.
To get help from RSA Catalyst for your social venture visit our website.
This is a guest blog by Martin Webber FRSA. Martin received a grant and help to run a crowdfunding campaign from RSA Catalyst for his ClearFear Game combating social anxiety. He is currently running a crowdfunding campaign through the new RSA curated area on Kickstarter to further develop his project.
The Big Idea: harnessing the power of fun and games to combat social anxiety through a real-life participatory social game.
Anxiety affects us all. Sometimes, a little bit is a good thing. It can sharpen our minds before a performance or help us to complete a piece of work, for example. More often, though, it can get in the way of leading a normal, productive life. Severe anxiety can stop us sleeping, going out and getting on with our lives.
Research in the US has found that as many as one in ten people suffer from social anxiety disorder – a persistent fear of social situations – at some point in their lives. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance recommends medication or psychological therapy for the treatment of social anxiety. However, only about half of adults seek help and most only do so after experiencing problems with their anxiety for over 20 years.
As we all have fears and anxieties, and because formal treatments are either inappropriate or unavailable, we are creating a game which helps people to confront their fears in a fun way.
With the support of RSA Catalyst, I am working with Philippe Greier of Playmakers Industries to create the ClearFear game. Along the way, we have harnessed the expertise of people recovering from substance use problems at Kingston Recovery Initiative Social Enterprise and researchers in the Connecting People study team to design the game. Through introductions made by RSA staff, we also gained the help and advice of other RSA Fellows David Floyd, Andy Gibson, Ellen Pruyne.
ClearFear is a real-life social game in which players are helped to find their own super-powers. By becoming our own superheroes, ClearFear game players tackle missions with the support of a small team to overcome their fears. Together, game players create a secret smiling society which no longer fears fear.
The ClearFear game has been tested by many people in the UK, Austria, Bolivia and Sweden. Our latest test has been with people recovering from substance use problems in the West Kent Recovery Service, where the RSA is piloting its Whole Person Recovery System.
The feedback we received from players has been positive. The laughter emanating from the attic room in Tonbridge where we last played the game suggests that it can be fun. Perhaps that was because the missions which players completed were completely bizarre, such as asking a stranger to move their car from one place to another or making a box out of twigs. Others included finding out an interesting fact about Tonbridge from someone in a local shop – which took a few attempts – or hugging a stranger – which, as you might expect, met with diverse responses.
The missions took people slightly out of their comfort zone, but as they were completed in a team their successes were celebrated together.
How does it work?
But does playing the game actually make a difference? We don’t yet have an answer to this question, but at the International Centre for Mental Health Social Research (University of York) we’re evaluating a pilot of the game to see if it helps to connect people, reduce anxiety and improve players’ well-being and feelings of empowerment. We have some ideas how it may work.
The ClearFear game superhero narrative provides a fictional frame for the exploration of reality. Unlike psychological therapy which takes people towards their fear, ClearFear takes players away from it into a fictional frame to poke fun at it. This ‘dramatic distancing’ is somewhat paradoxical, but enables players to engage with buried aspects of themselves more profoundly. Fear becomes a nemesis to overcome through a series of fun missions.
Missions are the antithesis of gradual exposure techniques, which are typically used in psychological therapy to carefully expose people to situations which they are fearful of. ClearFear missions are fun, some may say frivolous, but being part of a team of players where everyone has a mission to complete equalises the status of the tasks and reduces individuals’ anxiety about what they have to do. Teams of three can frequently complete their missions in under one and a half hours, demonstrating that exposure to fearful situations with the support of other players can be tackled with fun.
The superhero narrative of the game reminds players that they have strengths. Developing and testing the game with people recovering from severe problems who sometimes feel that they have nothing to offer to society has demonstrated how powerful this can be. Starting off talking about the problems they have experienced in their lives, players help each other to identify what they are good at and enjoy doing most. Asset-based approaches help communities to develop and we see the same beginning to happen with the ClearFear secret smiling society.
There is a long way to go. We need to take the game to the next level and to complete our evaluation to see if it works. To help us, we have launched a crowdfunding campaign on the RSA Kickstarter page last week. We are doing well so far but need to keep up the momentum. Please take a look and help if you can: bit.ly/clearfearfrsa
We aim to source some additional funding to enable us to develop a version of the game with mission cards, a gamer’s toolkit, and a fully-functioning website with clear instructions so that people can share their successful missions. This is to allow individuals to play the game.
If you want to help us reach our target of £5,000 by 31st October, please pledge your support and share it with your contacts.
We all have mental health and we need to look after it. Let’s embrace the possibility that social gaming is good for our mental health. Let’s clear fear together!
To get help from RSA Catalyst for your social venture visit www.thersa.org/catalyst.
Lynette Warren co-runs the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, a social enterprise that helps more people get into growing food. Here she blogs about her RSA Catalyst-funded project to create vertical allotments.
The Big Idea: providing spaces for people to grow their own plants and vegetables in urban spaces.
During recent years ‘grow your own’ gardening has increased in popularity, and it has been recognised that it can promote healthy eating, physical activity and social interaction. However, due to the lack of sufficient allotments and the predominance of high density and high rise buildings in urban areas, the opportunities to grow food are limited.
Mike Anstey and myself, both RSA Fellows, have created a vertical allotment system called ‘GutterGrow’ to address this and provide a versatile and flexible unit to grow vegetables and plants on balconies, small patios or any confined space. We’ve designed it to be accessible to the elderly, people with disabilities and children of all ages.
How RSA Catalyst helped the project
The RSA’s Catalyst seed fund enabled a pilot project to be established in two Cambridge residential homes – Lammas Court, accommodating up to 25 residents, and Kay Hitch Way, supporting up to nine residents with special needs and physical disabilities – both run by Granta/Metropolitan Housing Association. Granta staff welcomed the project, as local authority-funded activities have been reduced through budgetary cuts. They felt it would benefit residents’ health, while also addressing the loneliness often experienced by the elderly.
The Catalyst project funded a variety of vertical allotment systems to enable residents to grow their own vegetables or plants on their balconies, in small patios or in communal garden areas. The project was also supported by Mr. Fothergills, the seed producer, who agreed to provide seeds and plug plants selected by the residents, including beetroot, tomatoes, chilli peppers, kohl rabi and strawberries.
The project so far
The growing programme was set up in March 2012, with Mike and I making weekly visits to ensure everyone was happy with their frames and sowing seeds at appropriate times. A number of residents had their own personal frames on balconies and patios, with one lady adapting hers for growing raspberries and beans. The large communal frame was overseen by the keen gardeners, but all residents were welcome to join in and all the herbs and vegetables were shared.
Through an RSA Fellow, we were introduced to the Cambridge University student volunteering hub. Two students were keen to be involved but unfortunately the growing season clashed with their final year dissertations and exams, so they were unable to continue with the project.
In spite of the very poor spring and summer weather – and random attacks by squirrels, who thought they had a personal snack bar – the residents had good harvests of broad beans, lettuce, runner beans, onions, herbs, and a bountiful crop of tomatoes (a particular favourite). New residents were keen to join in with this initiative, and visiting relatives thought it was a lovely idea. In Kay Hitch Way one resident was delighted to be involved as the frame made it easy for her to garden in her wheelchair. Others were encouraged to join in watering and caring for the plants.
On hearing about the project, Aldwyck, another housing association, asked if we could run an Easter growing event with children from deprived families on an estate in Luton. This was great fun: the children loved building their own frames to fit on their balconies, and chose vegetables and plants they liked, including one of the hottest chillis. The focus was on good healthy food, and hopefully the children encouraged parents to join in too.
The years growing ended in October so the frames were dismantled and put in storage. Various herbs were kept on windowsills and all agreed that it was a success and they wanted to continue the following year. The gardeners really appreciated that there was no digging and few weeds or pests, particularly as a number of them were over 90! They felt it was relatively easy, interesting and a good social interactive experience – and many were surprised what they could grow in containers.
In spite of the poor weather there was enough produce for sharing even with the squirrels. Wednesday, the ‘GutterGrow’, day provided a focus for discussions and comments about the project. We were always greeted with “here come the gutter-grows!” It was always an enjoyable experience, not only were we regaled with what was growing well or not but also life stories and the odd glass of sherry.”
What has become apparent was that for the project to grow, it needs dedicated personnel to co-ordinate building and maintaining the frames, and to give ongoing support to help grow and harvest healthy plants. Our weekly visits provided a focal point and sustained a growing enthusiasm by residents, and this is an area where more volunteers would be welcome.
How can you get involved
We feel that this has a huge potential to ‘grow’ as a social enterprise. Both housing associations are keen to continue to run it across their estates, and see it as a viable social initiative. We’re really interested to hear from any RSA Fellows who work with housing associations or schools elsewhere in the UK, as we’d be glad to discuss opportunities to spread what we’re doing. Hopefully we’ll be recruiting an apprentice soon to help expand the work – if you’d like to find out more about this, or any other aspect of what we’re doing, please get in touch via our website.
I come from an outdoor education background, playing in rivers, scaling rock faces and tramping over hills and through woods and it has always been instilled into me to leave nothing behind. I spent a few years working in Canada where the ‘no trace camping’ ethic is very strong. When I came to the RSA almost a year ago I was really interested by the work that was beginning on recycling and circular design. Having been inspired by Yvon Chouinard’s book Let My People Go Surf and his company Patagonia’s work on recycled clothing it was great to see such an esteemed organisation stepping up. There is a growing awareness that we need to reconsider our attitudes to waste, and recycling. The RSA has been busy exploring circular design ideas through the Great Recovery project to reduce waste and promote cradle to cradle design and the RSA has also embarked on an exciting piece of work exploring makers and designers which was launched in June at Somerset House which hopes to raise awareness of new design and making principles to shift the conversation and create a new breed of designers and creators.
Part of the brilliance of Fellowship is that individuals and groups of Fellows are always seeking ways to improve, adapt and develop everyday products, practices and ideas for the betterment of society alongside our ARC Team. We have Fellows in West Wales working to promote sustainable business practices using biomimicry and a better understanding of the environment and Fellows re-designing products that keep breaking on them. Through theSocial Entrepreneurs Network and as East Midlands Regional Programme Manager I’ve also come across another.
Steve Ralf has been working with printer ink and cartridges. Tired of the waste that occurs environmentally and economically he set up Inklusive Community Interest Company. Steve is this fortnight’s Big Idea blogger. We spoke to him about his work and this is what he has to say:
The Big Idea: Steve Ralf FRSA runs Inklusive CIC, a social business that supplies ink and printing products. They hope to change the mindset of people when purchasing ink so that they consider the impact on the environment, and the harm caused to individuals, communities and the planet. Steve wants to help people to adopt environmental and economical-friendly printing practices that reduce waste and support the growing interest in cradle to cradle manufacturing.
The project hopes to change the mind-set of people when purchasing ink so that they consider the impact on the environment, and the harm caused to individuals, communities and the planet. Inklusive is fully aware that as well as offering an environmental alternative it also has to offer high-quality products and a cost-effective alternative to the purchase of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) cartridges. We have also developed an industry leading warranty that guarantees to replace your printer if our inks cause it any harm whatsoever. To date, we have never had a claim against our warranty!
Through this project we have reduced the amount of lead and heavy metals found in landfill and saved thousands of tonnes of CO2 that would have been used in manufacturing processes by recycling, refilling and reusing existing ink cartridges. We have also supported the development of printing and IT social business in Meru, Kenya and supported three schools to have electricity, the internet, computers and printers.
Inklusive like any good idea often needs a little support along the way. The RSA Catalyst funding helped us to ascertain our best supply chain options. Instead of competing against businesses with shared ethics and environmental objectives, we have formed partnerships and built capacity in these organisations so that we are stronger together. Catalyst funding can be a great early intervention for new social businesses to refine their offering before embarking fully with their project. In addition to the funding, there is a plethora of knowledge and information amongst Fellows just waiting to be tapped. The value of this far outstrips the financial contribution! So please sign up to SkillsBank so projects and ideas can be supported by like-minded Fellows.
How you can get involved
We are doing well but Inklusive would like to explore the most effective methods for taking our products and services to market. At present, we sell via our website www.inklusive.co.uk and word of mouth and do not have a dedicated sales team. Despite this, we have experienced strong sales growth and believe that with the right strategic sales plan, we could grow faster and be more effective. We would like to explore social franchising or ways in which other like-minded businesses could benefit from selling our products. So if you are interested in talking to us about either of these please get in touch with me on twitter where I’m @InklusiveCIC.
Founder & CEO Inklusive CIC
If you want to talk to your Regional Programme Manager about a project you are proud of or that needs that little bit of Fellowship support contact Richard Pickford who is @pickfordrich on Twitter or Richard.Pickford@rsa.org.uk on email. We can connect you to other Fellows, sign post you to interesting groups on www.RSAFellowship.com and provide advice on applying for Catalyst.
Maria Ana Neves FRSA helps to run Plan Zheroes, a citizen-led food intitative saving food that would normally be wasted. She blogs here about the initiative:
The Big Idea: inspiring food businesses to give their surplus food to those who need it so that it never goes to waste.
The vision for Plan Zheroes: the Zero Food Waste Heroes was simple — one day no good food will go to waste. I truly believed it was a no-brainer, so we (Chris Wilkie, Lotti Henley and myself) gave it everything we had: time, skills, networks and enthusiasm to make it happen. It didn’t quite go to plan, for reasons I will explain later.
Plan Zheroes’ aim is to inspire and connect food businesses with local charities to give surplus food to people who need it. Provoked by figures published in 2009 that the UK food retail industry sends 1.6 million tonnes of surplus food to landfill every year, and that there are 4 million people in the UK living below the breadline, we believed there must be a better way!
The starting point: from no-brainer to complexity!
Learning from existing “zero-food-waste-heroes” like Pret-A-Manger, community groups and Fareshare, we quickly discovered how complex it is: there are too many types of food businesses (from restaurants to schools), too many kinds of food and too many types of charities – all with varying facilities.
Provoked by figures published in 2009 that the UK food retail industry sends 1.6 million tonnes of surplus food to landfill every year and with 4 million people in the UK living below the breadline, we believed there must be a better way!
Looking through such complexity, we had a breakthrough insight: to create an online map. If businesses and charities created profiles with their requirements, we could help them find the perfect match! That gave us a window of opportunity to use the human qualities that are often neglected: “match making” and “gossip” to start a mission of building shared value communities.
How RSA Catalyst made a difference
We didn’t start Plan Zheroes with an enterprise in mind, just a vision to solve a problem. The RSA Catalyst funding we were awarded helped make the Plan Zheroes online map, and also to find expertise among Fellows (like Tony Mitchell, Steve Coles and Marcus Jameson-Pond to name a few). Through Catalyst we had the opportunity to test, and invest in, our inspiring idea – without the constraints of needing to create a business. The Catalyst award boosted my confidence in the project, and the application process was incredibly useful in helping articulate what we were trying to achieve.
The first phase of Plan Zheroes is rooted in the belief that anything is possible and we, as inspired citizens can change the world!
Later, being part of the Social Enterprise Spotlight initiative really supported the journey of Plan Zheroes. We went from being a flat, unstructured and sometimes chaotic project (though driven by immense enthusiasm) to becoming well-resourced and structured, and are now about to become a charitable incorporated organisation (the new form of charity). To grow and achieve our mission we needed to have governance structures in place, a permanent team (it’s been run by volunteers up until this stage), and an office to resource our activities. Winston Churchill recognised this need in one of my favourite quotations: “We make a living with what we do, and we make a life with what we give”. I’ve learned we need to have both.
So why do it, and who wants to do it?
Emerging research shows that many people in the UK are finding it difficult to afford sufficient food to feed themselves and their families: 18% of the UK population is living in food poverty. Families are trapped into making “eat or heat” choices. At the same time, the Sustainable Restaurants Association (SRA) research shows that consumers’ top agenda is food waste, and even employees are increasingly sensitive to the CSR policies.
Plan Zheroes is being asked to help more charities (who now face increasing numbers of clients and decreasing funding from government) from the Salvation Army, to British Red Cross Refugee Centres, to community initiatives. We have also been approached by businesses, including prestigious hotels in London and food chains like Le Pain Quotidien.
In April 2013, Plan Zheroes was commissioned to create a direct portal for citizens in real need of food. Plan Zheroes joined the Hospitality and Food Services Waste Reduction volunteer agreement launched by WRAP one year ago, and our involvement is two-fold: to better understand larger organisations’ challenges and to influence decision makers to consider the positive impact surplus food can have in society, in the same way they consider financial and environmental gains. We have even been contacted by New Zealand to help launch a national scheme to divert surplus food to charities. We are strengthening our alliances with trade organisations such as the Institute of Hospitality and the Sustainable Restaurant Association, and we see this as a key factor of success.
So what next? And what do we need?
Since January we have been working hard on the best way to develop. Some of things we have achieved are:
- defining our business plan
- producing a budget
- initiating the Charity Incorporation
- a redesign of the new website, map and tools (we hope to launch in September)
- putting good volunteer management practice into place
There are still some things we need to work on. We are desperate for an excellent fundraiser (who thinks vertically and latterly with an open mind) and office space. We also need a good board of Trustees – with experience and time to advise on issues ranging across finance, PR/campaigning, new technologies, building communities, and who are very good at influencing at a high level.
The first phase of Plan Zheroes is rooted in the belief that anything is possible and we, as inspired citizens can change the world! The present phase of Plan Zheroes made me understand there is also a danger of being too open and I’ve learned the value in setting up boundaries so we are ready for what can happen today, especially when it is not just positive!
If you’d like to help with the Plan Zheroes’ mission to achieve zero food waste and zero food hunger, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
In the week following the Social Enterprise Spotlight event on Wednesday 26 June (you can read the tweets from the night to find out more), we have asked one of the social entrepreneurs involved, Richard Raynes, to tell us about his social enterprise, SportInspired:
The Big Idea: Transforming young people’s health and happiness using community sport and private sector role models and resources.
Myself and my best mate, Peter Thomond, founded SportInspired in 2009 in recognition of a serious social need and as a thanks to the sports coaches who inspired us both as kids. We had witnessed for a number of years in London, a severe lack of partnership working within local communities around sport. This meant that, other than for those young people who enjoyed playing football, many were missing out on the various physical and wellbeing benefits of regularly participating in local sport. Our mission is to improve confidence, activity levels and life skills of young people who need it most. To achieve this mission we’ve created a unique platform – SportInspired Games – to enable role models from business and local communities through the power of sport; businesses with a purpose beyond profit use our platform to achieve talent, brand and community development goals. In doing so, they help local schools, public and third sector organisations to improve social cohesion, youth attainment and health.
A typical SportInspired Games is a six to nine month programme, centred on a cleverly designed competitive multi-sport festival to deliver community-building and sports development in three steps:
Step 1 – Co-create:
- recruit corporate and community stakeholders
- agree stakeholder objectives for getting involved
- co-design festival to meet local needs and deliver stakeholder objectives
Step 2 – Festival:
- an inclusive one-day festival of sport, delivered by role models from business and local young leaders
- 200-500 children and 10-200 business volunteers compete in 6-10 local community sports (including disability sport) – the focus: team spirit!
Step 3 – Legacy:
- a smart follow-up programme to ensure kids get into sport and all stakeholders achieve their objectives
The story so far
We’re about to deliver our 100th programme, and it’s clear that we have developed a sustainable platform that is a proven, customisable turn–key solution for business and community leaders. Businesses with a purpose beyond profit use our Community Games to: connect communities and their own people to their brand; dramatically increase volunteering numbers; boost staff morale & engagement and develop leaders.
This in turn helps our community stakeholders (who tend to be local schools and their students, local sports clubs, councils, 3rd sector organisations, and the businesses who fund the programme and run the multi-sport festivals) to do a number of things:
- increase the confidence, activity levels and life skills of young people
- boost membership of local sports clubs
- access new adult volunteers
- improve pupils’ attitude towards learning and being active, and
- build positive connections across the community – especially between schools and sports clubs
In the last 12 months, our corporate partner Sky has engaged 672 staff as volunteer business role models who have worked with us to deliver 15 projects. In doing so, 97% of the employee volunteers reported that the programmes have helped them to better connect to Sky as an employer, better connect to each other, and enhance their communication, leadership and team-working skills.
SportInspired has been a great initiative for our students as young leaders….it’s created self-confidence where there was once self-doubt.
Corporate partners like this enable our growing team to achieve great outcomes:
- 80% of sports clubs surveyed in 2012 report have been ‘strengthened’ as a result of taking part in the National Community Games. They made connections with schools, recruited volunteers from business partners, recruited new members, learnt from other clubs and provided new coaching experiences for next generation club leaders
- 95% of teachers reported improvements in pupils’ relationship with sport and PE, and would recommend SportInspired’s Games to other schools
- “SportInspired has been a great initiative for our students as young leaders….it’s created self-confidence where there was once self-doubt”. Roy Page, Deputy Head, Oxted Comprehensive School
I believe there really is a sport out there for everyone. It’s a real privilege to be on this journey with so many amazing people. Seeing our initial vision come to life and have real impact over the last few years has only made me hungrier to scale our efforts. After all, every child deserves to be happy and healthy.
I believe there really is a sport out there for everyone. Seeing our initial vision come to life has only made me hungrier to scale our efforts.
In the last year, SportInspired and our corporate partners have worked with 15,000 people in 45 communities across the UK. Our analysis of UK-wide health, crime, and social statistics, reveals the need for 400 Community Games programmes in the toughest 10% of communities in the UK. Our next step is to scale our enterprise further to reach that 10% over the next 3 years.
How you can get involved
Being part of the RSA’s Social Enterprise Spotlight programme has, quite simply, helped me maintain my sanity during some of our tough times. I’ve gained invaluable coaching and encouragement from other Fellows, which has helped me to keep my confidence in continuing to grow the business in tough economic times. To achieve our ambitious goal of scale, our next steps will require investment, new technology, and larger and deeper relationships with corporates. I’d be delighted to connect with other Fellows who might be able to help, especially anyone who might like to see their company become a client of SportInspired, or who has expertise to help smarten up/re-vamp our branding and communications.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch via:
SportInspired and Richard Raynes took part in Social Enterprise Spotlight, a study of the successes and challenges of nine social entrepreneurs over the course of a year – designed to help them and the rest of the network develop. To find out more, please visit the online group for the Social Entrepreneurs Network – and keep an eye on this blog. More information will be coming soon!
The Big Idea: making the most of RSA Animates in school using a new collaborative website, WatchDrawThink.org, by Ewan McIntosh FRSA, Founder of NoTosh.com.
RSA Animates have proven irresistible intellectual nuggets for many “grown ups”, and evidence suggests they help us learn about topics better. But what about their potential for little ‘uns and teens at school?
RSA Animates can undoubtedly provide rich stimulus for learning, and the visual representation of abstract or complex ideas has become increasingly admired by educators all over the world. However, harnessing these clips successfully is not necessarily obvious or easy for educators who’ve not tried before.
RSA Animates have proven irresistible intellectual nuggets for many “grown ups”. But what about their potential for little ‘uns and teens at school?
WatchDrawThink is a new RSA Catalyst-supported project launched by Ewan McIntosh FRSA and colleagues Peter Ford and Tom Barrett FRSA at education firm NoTosh. The collaborative site aims to provide a space for teachers to share ideas, example lessons or projects where students use RSA Animates for their learning. The idea is that teachers will get inspiration on how they might use a whole or part of an RSA Animate video as an initial stimulus or part of an immersive discovery session on a given topic.
Why use RSA Animates in school?
RSA Animates have tended not to be used widely in school, perhaps because they handle genuinely complex cross-curricular knowledge. But it’s the very visualisation that is so tantalising, that also makes the comprehension of these complex areas of knowledge easier, and the viewer’s chances of retaining the message so much better. Professor Richard Wiseman’s own research study of RSA Animates showed that the visualisation used could help viewers retain up to 22% more information than had they just listened to the audio alone. You can watch Richard Wiseman and Andrew Park, the illustrator, talk about this at an RSA Event.
Support from Catalyst helped deliver an initial session with RSA Academies teachers in March, where the potential for their use within the English curriculum was confirmed. Teachers spotted relevance to the curriculum in areas as diverse as physical education (Dan Pink: The SurprisingTruth of What Motivates Us) and mathematics (Renata Saleci on The Paradox of Choice), as well as a blanket appreciation of their potential use in language arts, design and primary education.
WatchDrawThink’s first prototype
Launching as a prototype platform in time for teachers to get engaged in the last term of this school session, WatchDrawThink is crowdsourcing as many light-touch – or involved – ways as possible to harness three particularly rich RSA Animate clips in the classroom. Anyone, student, teacher or parent, can jump onto the site and add their innovative, short, sharp idea for handling a segment or whole clip to achieve a specific curricular goal or to create an engaging task with the clip.
Over time, based on how people use the site in the first couple of months, the website will also provide support from the NoTosh Team and RSA Academies with specific ideas and advice on:
- How to plan a competence-based unit of work or set of lessons that encourages student-led research on the back of an RSA Animate stimulus
- Different ways to use visualisation to express knowledge and understanding on a topic, à la RSA Animate.
How you can get involved
Teachers and students can get involved this term and see which of the RSA Animates might help you explain a new, complex topic in a simple way. Use the WatchDrawThink website, Twitter hashtag #watchdrawthink or Facebook page to share your own lesson outcomes (videos, images, texts, comments, blog posts) and share further ideas.
If you’re a parent or Governor, share the site with your child’s teacher.
To get help from RSA Catalyst for your social venture visit www.thersa.org/catalyst