One of the social media groups I use is for freelance women journalists. For all Facebook’s flaws, the group is brilliant: like an open-plan office with none of the irritations and all the companionship of 4000+ colleagues who’ll always deliver on requests for advice, feedback, sympathy, or last-minute contacts. Those shout-outs for contacts appear every day. “Looking for local post offices that still have a resident cat”, writes one. “Does anyone know a media-friendly volcanologist?” “I’m looking for a woman aged 30+ who showers at least twice a day. The more the better.” (These were all real requests. They all got multiple responses.) Continue reading “Cats and volcanologists”
If it’s easy to start blogging these days, it’s even easier to stop. Or at least to pause.
So many reasons: not enough time (I’ll do it when that deadline is over); other priorities (I need to focus my attention/writing brain on something else right now); perfectionism (there’s no point in posting something mediocre); lack of fresh ideas (there’s nothing exciting me to write at the moment); unconvinced of the payback (it won’t make any difference if I wait a bit longer). Continue reading “Blogger’s guilt”
Four years ago, I spent a Friday night travelling up and down the Northern Line, filming people trying to talk to strangers on the Tube.
The gathering was organised by Barbara, the sister of a Portuguese friend. Tired of Londoners burying themselves in their phones and ignoring each other, she wanted to create an offline space where people would have real-life conversations. The Tube party was a starting point; I didn’t quite get how her venture, Offline London, would work in practice or who might pay for it. But I liked the concept, liked the people, and thought filming might be fun. (It was. We were buzzing for hours afterwards.)
Last week we wrapped up a short project at the Compton School in Barnet, north London, just in time for International Women’s Day. Our group was smaller than usual, but super organised and very capable. Their final piece explored political representation, the pay gap, reproductive rights and period poverty.
So what makes this format work so well? Continue reading “A tried and tested format for group media projects”
Pioneers Post, the UK’s social enterprise magazine, recently published two stories from my Asia trip late last year.
In Hong Kong, I spoke to the chair of a £50 million government fund that aims to support innovative solutions to poverty and inequality, hung out at the social impact hub GoodLab, and had dinner at the social enterprise iBakery (Hong Kong: why even wealthy societies need social entrepreneurs). Continue reading “Stories from Hong Kong & Ho Chi Minh”
The charity sector can feel a bit gloomy at times. Shrinking budgets and ever more competition for funding, tighter regulations, and more time spent reporting than doing.
And yet what draws many people (including me) to the sector in the first place is an optimistic streak, a belief in human power to change things for the better.
So it was refreshing to look on the brighter side again for a recent article — and nope, it wasn’t too difficult to come up with five reasons charities can be cheerful this year. Continue reading “Starting positive”
This post was originally published on InsightShare’s blog. For more on their participatory video work see insightshare.org, or read my reactions to their participatory video training back in 2013 here.
Laptops banned. No notebooks allowed. For those of us who like to write everything down, the instructions for the latest InsightShare course on Participatory Video for Most Significant Change were a bit daunting. How would I remember it all?
Fortunately, visualisation (lots of drawing, arranging of keywords and mind maps) and experiential learning (going through the process ourselves as participants) helps it stick. Here’s what I learned:
1. “Most Significant Change” sounds a bit fluffy, but it’s actually a recognised evaluation technique.
Participatory monitoring and evaluation means that those affected by (and those affecting) a programme are involved in the process of assessing what worked. Together the group negotiates and agrees how to measure progress. Continue reading “Seven lessons: Participatory Video for Most Significant Change”
This year at Exposure we’ve been running a new project known as ‘I’m Inspired’ that gives young people the chance to find and interview a professional in their local area about their work.
The project has involved bringing teenagers and students — some shy, some not so shy — to radio stations, open-plan corporate offices, theatres, newsrooms, and community centres around north London.
Many of our interviewees, especially in the creative sectors, downplayed the importance of qualifications. It’s more about your portfolio than any certificates you’ve got, said a graphic designer. We don’t require qualifications to work here, just drive and initiative, said a radio producer. I’d hire someone with experience and the right attitude over someone else with a three-year degree, said a news editor. Continue reading ““People can always say no” and other careers advice”
Pedicures for homeless guests. Creative writing or cooking courses. More quiet zones to relax in. These were some of the suggestions that emerged after we screened ‘The Place To Be’, a film made by guests at St. Cuthbert’s Day Centre.
St. Cuthbert’s, a drop-in centre for vulnerable people near Earl’s Court in west London, is already pretty special, according to its visitors. As one of them said: “The staff come and say ‘Good morning, how are you?’. You don’t always get that — in some centres, you just sit down and nobody wants to know.” Another said he walks a long way to St. Cuthbert’s every week, even though other places are more convenient: “People here accept me as I am… they never make you feel less important than others.”
That warm welcome has been extended to those in need for some 20 years, but recently St. Cuthbert’s saw big changes as part of the Refettorio Felix project. Continue reading “Participatory video as feedback: Refettorio Felix”
I’ve been working since last year with MissionBox, a website that provides a huge range of how-to guides, advice, case studies, feature articles and templates for nonprofits. As a startup, there’ve been a few shifts of direction along the way, but the site has just relaunched and it’s great to see it taking shape.
MissionBox is based in the US and one of the challenges has been making sure the content written by our American colleagues is relevant and accurate here in the UK. In some cases that has meant drafting separate/equivalent pieces — that goes for any legal or tax topics, but also some less obvious ones like the expectations of a nonprofit board, or working with foundations. Continue reading “The new nonprofit library”