We work with hundreds of voluntary organisations whose efforts help people feel better. It comes in many forms, whether that is improving fitness, finding purpose, finding friendships – they routinely record the difference through our tools, including the Impact Assessment App.
They are looking to provide up to £300k in the first year to create a social prescribing mechanism which involves gp’s referring to link workers who will then provide non-medical interventions to improve health.
They will only fund year 1 and need partners to have a commitment from ccg or similar to agree to fund after that.
Issues outstanding are:
It’s key to integrate social prescribing into the current health systems
CCG’s need to be on board for this funding
At the moment there isn’t funding for the people who provide the social prescribing – even though the outcome is medical.
In between she never flinched from standing up for injustice (as anyone on the very sharp end of her unflinchingness will tell you) or caring for someone who might not even know that they needed a kindness.
Above all though she was a wholeheartedly committed wife, mother, daughter, grand-daughter and sister. Loyalty was at her core.
So did Steph come to work for a rest?
The truth is that she was too restless to be all that good at resting. Her commitment to what we do at Podnosh was total. Throughout the 5 years she worked here Steph was happiest when we were stupidly busy. She loved learning new things, solving problems, seeing work through – sometimes with very gritted teeth. She could not fail to connect her different worlds of work and volunteering and home to make them all work better. She helped and connected people almost casually and her stock pot of social capital was rich and full of flavour.
Our company values are: Think, Make Things Better and Give a ****. She relished telling people that, especially the sweary bit. She blogged to her friends:
“What do I do? I think, I make a difference, I give a f**k! – and I’m really proud of that!”
She embodied these values and at times scolded me (respectfully, he’s “the boss’) if I wasn’t doing the same. (She could smell hypocrisy at a 1000 yards and might need talking down from shouting it out every time she sniffed it).
Most days that we worked together ended the same. She’d head off to do another days work in her life and I’d say ‘thank you’. I wasn’t really thanking her for the work she’d done. It was for her being generous enough to bring all of the intensity and decency of herself to work.
Last Thursday our working day ended differently. So here I’d just like to say one final ‘thank you, Steph’ x.
(Steph Clarke died on Friday November 25th after falling ill the previous day)
Bit by bit we’ve been doing something strategic in Birmingham. Every social media surgery that happens in the city helps in a number of ways:
Provides new skills to individual active citizens
Creates a place where people can meet each other
Helps community groups and the public sector use the web to talk to each other
Grows the civic conversation online.
This last one has been the strategic part.
I think that growing the civic conversation online is an important part of building new platforms in neighbourhoods. It helps traditional civic activity work better and new civic models emerge.
This is based on a simple assumption that if more civically minded people are using the web to talk to each other in a community it will be easier for politicians, public servants and other citizens to share ideas, information and collaborate or campaign. Of course people can and will use the web to talk about brangelina – but with the surgeries we target those already involved in or wishing to do something consciously civic.
We’ve taken this a step further in the last two or three years. A normal social media surgery is run by volunteers for volunteers – the free help is available to active citizens, local charities and community groups.
We sent out a survey to people who’ve used the social media surgeries in Birmingham. 35 people replied, about 10 per cent of those involved. They were a mixture of volunteers, third sector workers, public servants and at least one councillor.
A third of people said what they had learned had influence how they think about their work ‘a lot’ – three quarters replied either 4 or 5 to that question.
One comment from a worker in a charity supporting charities said
“If I hadn’t started using social media to build relationships I doubt I’d still be employed in my organisation, and I doubt my organisation would be doing some of the brilliant work it is doing. It’s enabled both me and my organisation to be pro-active in a rapidly changing and challenging context”
65% of people felt better able to make things happen because they are using social media. This is a core point. Growing the civic conversation is not just about more blither – it’s about more action.
Developing these skills in community groups and active citizens was also seen as a fresh opportunity by at least 77% of those who replied. They know that the online civic conversation can help them get things done – so helping more people get involved ought to help that more.
More than 85 % felt they has seen the online civic conversation grow since getting involved with the social media surgery. You would expect that to be the case for most people, simply being exposed to new people and new places where civic things get discussed would have that effect. But it is still encouraging to see that they have a wider civic conversation to take part in.
So Birmingham – you’ve already started a strategic investment in building a critical platform for civic change. Persistence is paying off. Some more? And what next? Which other new platforms are worth building?
If you’re not Birmingham, other places understand this and we can help you. We introduced Dudley CVS to the why and wherefores and they have been runningsurgeries for years – indeed it was Lorna Prescott who told me that what were doing was platform building (sometimes it takes others to spot the obvious).