As part of our work on Mind Waves, Third Sector Lab’s @rosiehopes was asked to deliver a session on blogging at Glasgow Women’s Library.
The workshop participants were totally new to blogging, so rather than getting bogged down with technical stuff, we focussed on top tips from other novice bloggers. This presentation is essentially crowd-sourced from Mind Waves Community Correspondents, most of whom have lived experience of mental health problems.
Here’s their top tips based on their first six months of the project, with links to posts from Mind Waves. What would you add? What do you wish you’d known when you started blogging?
A post from @rosiehopes, who manages mindwavesnews.com: a mental health citizen journalism project run in partnership by Third Sector Lab and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
There are few things that take more courage than admitting publicly that you feel suicidal.
Imagine picking up your phone, writing and re-working a tweet over and over again and then pressing tweet to announce to your followers that you can’t cope. And then imagine… nothing.
It’s nothing personal. It’s probably just that your closest online friends were busy at the time you sent it. Maybe they were in bed, or in a meeting. Maybe their feeds were too full of cat videos or the latest breaking news. Maybe a few people saw it, but thought someone else would respond. But imagine how that would feel. Imagine what could happen next.
The @samaritans have launched a new app that notifies you when someone you follow tweets statements that could suggest they are suicidal. The Samaritans Radar sends an alert when someone says things like “tired of being alone”, “hate myself”, “depressed”, “help me” and “need someone to talk to” in a public tweet.
It’s a clever charity use of technology that goes beyond fundraising and “raising awareness”. This is about the Samaritans achieving one of their key objectives by putting the power to address suicidal thoughts in the hands of individuals and networks.
Of course, the system won’t be perfect. We’re just as likely to get an alert when someone says they want to die of embarrassment as when they express suicidal thoughts. But that’s okay. I don’t think anyone is looking for an algorithm to replace human relationships. It’s up to us to assess whether it’s something to worry about.
I have often responded when someone has expressed these thoughts online. If it’s someone I don’t know, or I’ve been using a work account, I send a fairly generic tweet with phone numbers for the Samaritans and Breathing Space. If it’s someone I know, I’ll send a private message to let them know I’m concerned.
I don’t know if it’s made a difference. But when it comes down to it, it’s just been luck that I’ve been online when it’s happened. The thought that someone would be shouting into the void and hear nothing back is terrifying.
It is so good to see a charity like Samaritans using technology in a positive way to provide a real solution to a real problem. This puts the power to make a difference right into people’s hands.
I’ve been thinking a lot about digital inclusion for various reasons, so I thought it would be worthwhile sharing some of my research. So here’s my eleven essential digital inclusion resources and research papers. There’s a definite Scottish focus to these and it’s worth noting they’re in no particular order:
3. Cultures of the internet | Oxford Internet Surveys
78% of the UK population said that they use the Internet. Does this large proportion of Internet users in Britain herald the rise of a common Internet culture, or are beliefs and attitudes about the Internet as diverse as opinions can be across the general population?
8. Offline and left behind | Citizens Advice Scotland
Only half of CAB clients have an internet connection at home. 36% of respondents said they never used the internet and a further 11% said they hardly ever used it. Does a digital by default approach to welfare benefits could exclude some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society from accessing the very services they rely upon?
9. Wealth of the web: Broadening horizons online | Age UK
The report looks at the obstacles to older people being online, which range from lack of interest to financial cost and lack of training and support as well as the drivers behind getting older people online which include family support and specific interests and hobbies. It’s London-focused but incredibly useful for those of you working with older people.
During the Commonwealth Games, our Director Ross McCulloch @thirdsectorlab caught up with Sara Thomas @lirazelf as part of #citizen2014 to give his views on how the games would affect Scottish charities.
Here’s his take, but three months on, does it hold true? Do you feel as optimistic about the Commonwealth legacy now that the flags are gone and the sunshine has faded? Let us know.
Our Director Ross has also contributed to ‘Imagining the Future’ – a collection of think pieces providing insight into some of the essential ingredients for shaping a fairer, healthier future Scotland. Below is the full piece from the document.
Digital Scotland: Future-proofing the third sector
The Scottish Government has a bold ambition: Scotland should be a world-leading digital nation by 2020. It’s hard to argue against that – Independent or not it’s clear Scotland needs to embrace new technology if we are to have a truly diverse, robust economy. The Scottish Government’s ‘Digital Future’ strategy outlines four key strands: connectivity, digital public services, digital economy and digital participation. The Scottish third sector has a pivotal role to play, particularly around digital participation and public service delivery. But without a fundamental shift in thinking there is a danger the third sector will be left behind – along with vast swathes of the population.
30% of Scots don’t have basic digital skills. That figure rises to 50% of people with disabilities and 60% where the individual has no qualifications. 15% of Scots have never used the internet. A Citizen’s Advice Scotland survey found 36% of their clients have never been online. These stark figures highlight a massive societal gap that needs to be addressed if we are to achieve that 2020 vision of a digital Scotland. Access to physical technology and connectivity, particularly in rural areas, are important. But for me they’re not the big issues. We need to ensure people have basic skills needed to get online and embrace the internet. That word ‘embrace’ is key. Oxford University looked at why people choose not to use the internet in their everyday lives – 82% of respondents were ‘not interested’. Researchers found no evidence that these people are restricted from going online. They simply don’t care. For many older, disabled and unemployed people their first foray into the digital world will be mandatory online-only benefits claim forms – hardly an inspiring start. In a sense digital inclusion is more about social barriers than technological ones.
Recent research on digital exclusion from the Carnegie UK Trust recommends that ‘trusted intermediaries, such as voluntary workers, community development workers…can help to deliver the personalised, differentiated approach that is needed to help different groups of citizens in Glasgow to get online’. So third sector staff and volunteers will be key in ensuring the digitally excluded are skilled and enthused but it’s also worth thinking about that other strand of the Scottish Government’s digital strategy – digital public services. I believe the third sector can deliver innovative, effective services through a ‘digital-first’ approach. Of course we will always need face-to-face interaction with service users but let’s not use digital exclusion as an excuse for inaction. So could an Argyll & Bute counselling service save money and reach hundreds more isolated individuals if it allocated half its travel budget to video technology rather than the environmentally-unfriendly, time consuming practice of counsellors driving all over the region?
My experience on Foundation Scotland’s grants committee, chairing other funding panels and working with Scottish charities in my role at Third Sector Lab tells me that two fundamental areas need to be addressed to get the voluntary sector ready. First we need a skilled workforce ready to ask how digital technology can help us deliver cost-effective services that make a real difference to the lives of Scottish people; we need digital champions within every Scottish non-profit. Secondly we need funders to understand the difference digital can make and put their money where their mouth is. We don’t necessarily need dedicated funding streams – digital to should permeate all areas of the funding landscape. We also need to ensure grants officers have the skillset to objectively assess tech-based project applications from charities and social enterprises. Once we make that shift I believe the Scottish third sector can lead the world in digital media for social good.
We were asked to provide social reporting support to the Health and Social Care Alliance for their #ourfuture14 conference. Our @rosiehopes trained up a team of six volunteers, carers, staff and people with lived experience of health and social care services and let them loose with smart phones. None of them were too shy to ask difficult questions, as you can see here.
Thanks to everyone who spoke to us- it was a great day.
Vibewire’s wonderful online youth conference, e-Festival of Ideas, opens this week. I feelÂ privileged to have been invited to contribute to the e-Festival as a guest panelist on the topic of ‘Social Media Making a Change?’
We’ll be looking at how social media can drive social change; how online media tools and applications impact poverty, climate change, unemployment or violence and ifÂ they do how can we truly measure it.Â As well as the important question of whether or not social media users exist in a bubble of their conversations with each other.Â
I’mÂ in great company, as Tasha Judd and Stacey Monk will also be contributing to the week’s discussions andÂ debates. Click the shiny red lightblub below to join in with the e-Festival.
Essentially the SIcamp weekend is all about using the net and technology for positive social change. They need the help of a huge range of people â€“ from software developers through to business experts, from digital media lawyers to people with expertise in solving social problems – to help make the selected ideas a reality.
I could waffle on all day about how great an idea SIcamp is but the nicely animated video below does a far better job of explaining the concept.