Coventry Community Responders (http://www.coventrycommunityresponders.com/) are a local charity. Their volunteers attend 999 calls on behalf of the ambulance service in Coventry and the surrounding areas, providing care and re-assurance in advance of an ambulance arriving. They receive no statutory funding and have to fund-raise to buy all of their equipment. They have grown from a couple of volunteers four years ago to now having over 15 responders.
Author Archives: SashaTaylor
Launched at CityCamp Coventry in October 2012, the idea for Coventry Greeters is to bring together enthusiastic local volunteers – the greeters – with visitors to the city. Greeters will spend around an hour of their time to show visitors around the city. It will help visitors see Coventry through the eyes of a local guide, and also give locals the opportunity to speak to people from around the world.
Following CityCamp, we have been working with a range of people to shape up the idea. We are very grateful for the support of the Coventry Ambassadors from London 2012; the Council’s Destination Marketing and Communications Teams; local businesses through the Coventry BID (Business Improvement District); Coventry Champions; and the local media.
Subject to approval, the current plan is to launch a trial greeter scheme later this year. This will, initially, be an ‘instagreet’ service where a greeter would be available to offer a free, guided visit around the city centre at a set time and place every week during busy periods.
We think this would be a great addition to the city centre’s offer, helping visitors discover something new about the city – and also complement the existing full-fledged tour guide services provided by professional Blue Badge guides.
In the meantime, if you have any ideas or if you are able to offer us any support, please get in touch!
The first CityCamp Coventry meeting held 19/20 October 2012 was a great success with around 80 people turning up and actively contributing. Five projects were selected by the judging panel on the Sunday to receive support from Coventry City Council and Coventry University, but all ideas were recognised by Martin Reeves, CEO Coventry City Council. The CityCamp Coventry are actively supporting some of these other ideas as well.
As with all projects you have to reflect back on it and evaluate it. Did it work? Did it reach its objectives. Well, it is still early days, but the CityCamp Coventry team feels that the event was a great success and that we are actively moving forward with the projects thanks to the help of the council and university.
So, the big news. Martin Reeves has agreed to host the event again for 2013 which is great news. The CityCamp Coventry team can now not only work with the 2012 projects but also start planning, and more importantly see if we can get financial sponsorship to help projects be realised.
If you are a major organisation working in or around Coventry, or have an interest in Coventry, and would like to support some fantastic grass root suggestions from the community then please contact one of the organising team:
Or if you have enthusiasm and drive, and want to give something to the community of Coventry, why not join the organising team.
Don’t forget that the first monthly get together will be held on the 21 February at Blue Bistro…we look forward to seeing you there.
We will be setting up the monthly meetings again – the first is planned for 21st February at Blue Bistro and we look forward to catching up with people and their projects
I will be writing to the University to see where they are at in relation to helping the projects as they agreed in December
We have split the projects up into the following:
CAB Advice Buddy – Charley Gibbons
Virtual Orchard – Rachel Adshead
- Hydroponics for Schools – Craig Marston
Coventry Greeters – Si Chun Lam
Virtual Orchard – Rachel Adshead
Coventry Ring Road Website – Rob Nickerson
- Community Payback Visibility – Jason Davies
Hydroponics for Schools – Craig Marston
On the 29th November CityCamp Coventry held its first post-event meeting. CityCamp organisers Sasha Taylor, Graeme Mullvany and Alison Hook were joined by sponsors and supporters of the winning projects from Coventry University (Gideon Maas), Coventry City Council (Jenni Venn and Juliette Richards) and FutureGov (Rachel Karasik).
Graeme and Sasha updated the meeting about the envisaged aims of CityCamp Coventry monthly meetings (the first held in November), and the status of each of the winning projects:
Coventry Greeters - Si Chun Lam
CAB Advice Buddy - Charley Gibbons
Coventry Ring Road Website - Rob Nickerson
Virtual Orchard - Rachel Adshead
Community Payback Visibility - Jason Davies
It was agreed that the next stage would be for the University to ask the project leads to provide the Institute of Applied Entrepreneurship with specific information to inform a meeting to determine the needs of the project and broad action plan. This action plan would then help the sponsors and other parties to understand the support that they need to provide in a more structured format.
The University has been in touch with the project leads this week and we are looking forward to seeing the action plans soon.
On a separate note another project from CityCamp Coventry, the Hydroponics idea from Craig Marston, has also progressed with a sponsor of small hydroponics kits coming forward and a pilot school hopefully confirmed this week.
The following article has, with kind permission, been taken from Catherine’s blog Curioscatherine’s Blog. Along with Anthony Zacharzewski, Catherine helped me facilitate the inaugural CityCamp Coventry event – an idea sparked from their own brilliant CityCamp Brighton event that I have supported for the last two years.
I’ve been meaning to write this since 2 rather busy weeks back in October which comprised of; the Solace Conference, CityCamp Coventry, a Creative Councils event down in Cornwall, facilitating an action learning group with Leicestershire Police and a learning week conference at the City of London as well as my first #innopints meeting in Devon. I met so many interesting people and its great sometimes to experience such a variety in a short period as you make different connections in your mind and I’ve been reflecting on those since then.
The underlying theme that has been stuck with me is the need to understand how to both connect and unlock networks. Beyond that I think we need to understand the cultural change that this confronts organisations with – how to truly adjust to the idea that network power is a huge asset if it can be integrated with some kind of structure. The companion to this is a renewed awareness of the need to look for networks internally and externally because to do things differently we need to be unconstrained by organisational boundaries.
Networked power operates in a very different way to hierarchical power (something that Mathew Taylor touched on in his keynote to Solace) and as the Public Sector is both pulled and pushed towards becoming more reliant on networks and networked power the cultural impacts of this are central to understanding how we actively rather passively make this change happen. For me this is about making the cultural shift that is beyond a standalone social media strategy.
The work we are doing with Leicestershire Police is a good example of this. The Force is making excellent use of Social Media but wants to push this forward in order to move out of high quality communications and into more operational impacts from its use of Digital. It’s a process and cultural change problem not a skills or training issue. To help them address this we’ve been working with them to create an internal action learning group who are looking at big strategic questions around identity, risk and process redesign.
The first step of the work with LeicsPolice is helping them to rethink their use of social media in terms of the groups that they want to connect with and influence – rather than as a straightforward communications exercise. This is causing the team we are working with to think very differently about external actors and to understand where the power sits in their networks in a very different way.
This external kind of external power was at the heart of the CityCamp Coventry (and other CityCamp like ours in Brighton of course) – a brilliant couple of days with Sasha Taylor and crew talking about virtual orchards, mapping the ring road, using empty shops and creating Coventry ambassadors. The fact that Martin Reeves as CEX of Coventry took the time to be there on both days and that the Council staff are part of the organising team for CityCamp Coventry showed their understanding of the fact that we need to remove organisational boundaries if we are going to unlock the ability of communities and citizens to innovate.
The urgency of making this kind of systematic change was very clear at Solace. This year at the Summit I felt a sense of a much greater acceptance of the need for substantive change in the face of financial and social pressures – but for many people no clear consensus or plan as to what that means. The point is that though we may or may not be at the point of the greatest level of change but it doesn’t matter – the inertia is largely broken and we are on the move. For many people the problem is that the early movers are deep in the depths of innovation and they are not sharing their experience enough.
These early movers are largely remarkable people who can’t spend enough time finding out what other people are doing and as a result feel isolated – and they are surrounded by people who want to learn but don’t know who to learn from. Dealing with the uncertainty of not yet knowing what works in the new landscape we are operating within means that we need to learn how to learn and make decisions as we are doing so. To make this work we need to connect and network these individuals and small groups and we need to do this on a larger scale than is currently happening. This could be a role for more established, and more hierarchal, organisations like Solace but only if they are able to make this cultural shift themselves – which is a different but still substantial challenge.
When we talk about co-production the focus is often on the relationship with the Community. Here the power shift is clear; from the State to the Citizen. The real challenge of co-production or at least greater levels of collaboration is between more formally structured organisations where the power negotiations are going to be much more complex as they rebalance resources. We need larger organisations to be active brokers in this process and they can only do this if they are transforming themselves and becoming more agile and networked.
In making change small practical actions are vital – but we need a bigger vision or at least a set of values as a lodestar to help filter this in some way or at least build the confidence that we need to make astonishing things happen. If we are going to build this vision then we need to do so at the same time as looking at the culture and structure of the organisation who is going to deliver it and create networks of people at all levels and beyond levels in wide networks to make this happen. Again larger organisations can help to build and support this bigger vision – but they have to be part of the change themselves to be credible and effective.
We need leaders in this new world and I have written elsewhere about the qualities that those leaders might have but we also need connectors and collaborators who are going to bring groups and networks together in order to build something bigger than any group can manage on their own.
I met so many brilliant people in those two weeks and I saw so many interesting and potentially transformative ideas but I also saw people reinventing and repeating ideas and learning. I also saw the passion of the entrepreneur or innovator being at odds with a collaborative way of working – not within their own project but with other organisations. I also felt the urgency around the transformation agenda that is now in Local Government.
I believe in radical evolution of what we have rather than a complete restart but we have to get on with it and this means really addressing organisational change not just experimenting on projects – or perhaps doing the two things in parallel not sequence. I am left with four questions:
How do we make sure that we are open, really open, to new ideas?
How do we become better organisational collaborators?
How can we identify the skills that are needed to work effectively in new ways?
How will we create the bigger vision?
We may need more than 140 characters to answer these.
Over the 19th and 20th of October, 14 ideas were generated and worked on at CityCamp Coventry 2012. All had the aim of enhancing Coventry for those that live in, commute to and visit the city. On the 20th these ideas were worked on and then pitched at the end of the day to the attendees and the judging panel of Martin Reeves (CEX Coventry City Council), Gideon Maas (Coventry University), Rachel Karasik (FutureGov), Catherine Howe (Public-i) and Sasha Taylor (Founder CityCamp Coventry).
Judging Panel (photo by Yuni Adisti-Lancaster)
You can see all the pitches below:
1. Virtual Orchard
2. Unlocking Coventry’s Visitors Potential through Families
3. From the Dole to the Goal
4. Schools Admission Helper
5. Wikipedia Coventry
6. Teaching school children how to grow vegetables using hydroponics
7. Coventry Advice Buddy
8. Ring Road App
9. Coventry Greeters
10. Coventry App
11. Community Payback Visibility
13. Mobile Apps for Neighborhoods
14. Coventry Clockface Cycling
The ‘winning’ ideas
Virtual Community Orchard - Mapping existing fruit trees and potential orchard locations in Coventry to develop an urban food landscape in the city and link that up with local residents and volunteers who pick the fruit and tend to the trees.
Ring Road Junction Finder - A simple site that helps people navigate the nightmare of a ring road in Coventry by finding the right exit to get to their desired location.
Coventry Greeters - Based on the Global Greeters network, a site that links up volunteers (particularly the 300 Coventry Olympic Ambassadors) with visitors to the city to show them around the hidden gems of Coventry.
Coventry Advice Buddy - An amalgamation of a couple ideas from the Citizens Advice Bureau, this idea includes developing an online reception desk to help direct people to relevant advice (both internally in CAB but also partnered with other advice organisations in the city) as well as a team of “Advice Buddy” volunteers who help guide the digitally excluded through the advice system.
Community Payback Visibility - An app that allows city residents to geotag grot spots for the Community Payback programme, and will allow people to track the progress of the sites they tag. They have already won funding from GeoVation, but are hoping that Coventry can be their pilot area.
Martin Reeves (CEX, Coventry City Council) then spoke about the general buzz and inspiration that was generated throughout the event and great ideas that were pitched before announcing the ‘winning’ ideas in an ‘X-Factor’ style. Gideon Maas spoke about the support that these winning ideas would get from the council, university and CityCamp Coventry team before Sasha Taylor closed the event by thanking all of the attendees for making the event a success.
I set off for Coventry with some trepidation on 19th October. CityCamp Coventry is the second unconference I’ve founded and there is always the fear of whether people will turn up, enjoy the event and get anything out of it…
People started arriving at 1pm, earlier than expected giving me time to explain the unconference format to those who had never attended a CityCamp before. I had never met many of the attendees but there seemed to be a network thread where everyone knew someone who knew someone else through Twitter (7 degrees of Twitter separation?). But there were also some familiar faces there – fellow organisers Vanessa, Ally and Graeme; fellow supporters of the CityCamp movement Anthony, Catherine and Dominic; and local West Midlands network of SM people to name a few. All in all there were about 80 attendees, meaning that the vast majority of people who had ‘bought’ a ticket had come along to the event. (Breathe a sigh of relief – first fear unfounded!)
Welcome and registration over, Martin Reeves (CEX from Coventry City Council) opened the event, laying the ground and expectations within Coventry.
Then it was over to Anthony from Demsoc. As the facilitator for the day, Anthony introduced the audience to CityCamp, where it started and its philosophy, acknowledging that CityCamp Coventry was born out of the CityCamp Brighton event (via Sasha Taylor) and recognising the organisers within the audience.
Next up was Dominic from FutureGov who were partners of the event. Dominic provided an overview of collaboration and crowdsourcing with examples from around the world. FutureGov’s Simpl website was a great tool leading up to the event, providing a space where CityCamp attendees and other interested members of the community could submit their own ideas and view others’ ideas for the central focus of the weekend ‘How to use the web to make Coventry an even better place to live’. In total there were 43 ideas submitted in two weeks! As one of the organisers of the event it was pretty motivating to see the ideas coming in before the event had even started.
Faye from Coventry City Council and Charley from the Citizens Advice Bureau gave us some fascinating stats about Coventry and its citizens. Catherine from Public-i provided an entertaining overview of democracy and the projects that have come about due to CityCamp Brighton. Andy (aka @Pigsonthewing) gave an interesting overview of Wikipedia and the use of QR codes. Kerry from West Midlands Police provided an overview of policing within the city and the great social media work done by his team. Gideon ended the talks by giving an overview of Coventry University and Social Entrepreneurialism.
The aim of all these talks had been to stimulate discussion and innovation. Now it was time to start the real event – the attendee participation. Anthony laid out the ground rules in relation to unconferences and got everyone in the room to introduce themselves and what they were looking to get out of the event.
So now the exciting part of any CityCamp – what ideas were going to be pitched above and beyond those from the Simpl website? After 45 minutes of pitching we had over 14 ideas to work on and take forward to day 2.
And so ended day 1 and many of us made our way to Blue Bistro, and the discussion about ideas for the following day continued over a couple of drinks. I felt inspired and enthused by the brilliant CityCamp attendees, and pretty sure that my other 2 pre-event fears would also be unfounded – people were enjoying the event and we were all going to get something positive out of it.
Simpl Challenges (http://simpl.co) is the challenge platform for local government and organisations, helping them to run events that kick start and support brilliant ideas for local and social good.
The site powers local councils and organisations to reach out to their community, local businesses and entrepreneurs for bright ideas to tackle social and city challenges close to their heart and support them to turn those ideas into active projects, businesses and services.
Simpl Challenges was developed by FutureGov (http://wearefuturegov.com), a digital innovation company that works with local authorities to use digital technology to improve public services, in partnership with Coventry City Council, Coventry University, and CityCamp Coventry.
With the launch of the site comes it’s first live Challenge – CityCamp Coventry’s (http://citycampcov.org.uk) call for ideas that answer the question, “How can we use digital technology to help make Coventry an even better place to live?” This call for ideas comes in the run up to their three-day ideas-fest, 19-21 October at Coventry City Council’s Council House. The free event will be a mix of speakers and crowdsourced discussions, culminating in a hack day where the top ideas submitted to the Simpl Challenges page will have the opportunity to be rapidly prototyped by teams of idea owners, community members, developers and practitioners. The winning idea of the weekend will receive a bespoke package of support from the council, university and sponsors to help it continue to grow after the event.
CityCamp Coventry is set to be the first of many Challenges hosted on the new Simpl Challenges. Local councils and organisations can set up a Challenge page in conjunction with an event (typically a hack event, unconference, or ideas fair type event), asking a Challenge Question. People, from innovators, students, and entrepreneurs to community members and enthusiasts can then submit their Ideas for a solution to the Challenge Question. These Ideas can then be voted and commented on by the Simpl Challenges community, before being taken forward to the event.
If you are a local council or organisation interested in running a Simpl Challenge, please contact Rachel Karasik at firstname.lastname@example.org
Launch date: Wednesday 26 September, 2012
First challenge: “How can we use digital technology to help make Coventry an even better place to live?”, Coventry CityCamp event (http://citycampcov.org.uk) 19-21 October
Contact: Rachel Karasik | email@example.com | 07595 667 837
FutureGov is back on the Simpl-train and delighted to have Coventry City Council, Coventry University, and CityCamp Coventry on board to develop Simpl Challenges – a challenge platform to help councils and organisations field ideas, run events and support projects that tackle social and local issues.
Some of you may have been familiar with the first manifestation of Simpl – the social innovation marketplace – which connected people with good ideas to people with the resources to make those ideas happen. After a year of running the marketplace, relishing in its pluses and frustrated by its minuses, we’ve decided to rebuild Simpl based on what we’ve learned and transform it into a platform to support challenges – a tool that will help channel good ideas towards a specific challenge question and event (most likely something like a hack event, unconference, ideas fair), and help councils and organisations to access and help nurture great ideas that could improve their area.
As we’re in the process of building the first version of Simpl Challenges, we’re lucky enough to have CityCamp Coventry as our testing ground – and in an area renowned for its entrepreneurialism, and with such innovative claims to fame as the jet engine, the bicycle and being the first twin city in the world, what better place to test a new platform designed to help develop good ideas. We’ll be working closely with everyone involved to make sure that Simpl Challenges works for the people using it, a useful piece of kit people will want to use, rather than yet another generic platform. Having the opportunity to create something with an event like CityCamp running alongside its development gives us the chance to test features as they are built, get feedback in real time on what is useful and, immediately see the practicalities of what Simpl Challenges will need to be successful.
It’s still early-ish days, but there are exciting times up ahead so keep your eyes and ears open in the run up to CityCamp Coventry to see what we come up with!
Post: Thanks to Rachel Karasik, FutureGov.