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Social enterprise collaboration brings results for old & young

Image provided by Justine Gaubert

Three new Sheffield social enterprises have recently celebrated the success of a digitally-focused collaboration project, which brought together young volunteers to train older people how to use the internet, in Maltby, South Yorkshire.

The project aimed to bring together the old and the young generation to reduce isolation and increase independence amongst older people, by teaching them how to use the internet.  The three social enterprises: Neighbours Can Help Ltd, Silent Cities Ltd, and SilenceBreakers found another partner in Maltby Academy, who generously welcomed the older people into their school and provided the young volunteers.

“Older people are a group who have a lot to gain from technology and yet they are one of the groups least likely to have either the equipment or the skills to use it,” said John Pickin from Neighbours Can Help. “We felt we could bring even greater value to the project by recruiting young volunteers to deliver the training to older people, so there would be the intergenerational benefits too,” said Justine Gaubert, Founder of Silent Cities who delivered the training element of the programme, along with Steve Hatherley, a teacher at the Academy. “Learning the IT skills isn’t the end of the story,” added Jay Baker from SilenceBreakers, the third partner in the project. “People also need access to the technology in their own home.”

The training ran from November 2010 to March 2011 and led to many successful results, including: 20 young 11-16 year olds volunteering their time after school for this project, nine refurbished computers being installed into older people homes for free as part of the project, and because they are refurbished, over half a tonne of waste being saved, 83% of the older people in the project now feel less socially-isolated.

The project came about through collaboration, not competition…

When three emerging Sheffield social entrepreneurs met at the School for Social Entrepreneurs, they had more in common than just their names beginning with the letter ‘J’.  Justine Gaubert (Silent Cities Ltd), John Pickin (Neighbours Can Help Ltd) and Jay Baker (SilenceBreakers) were about to launch their own social enterprises, each with a focus for bringing communities together using technology.

“When we met, people assumed we’d be in competition with each other because we shared such similar aims,” said Justine. “Thankfully, we opted for collaboration instead!” “There was cross over between each of our businesses, and as we were all starting out, we thought it would be great to pilot small parts of our business in a joint project” explained Jay.

“My business is about bringing a voice to the voiceless, and part of my project is to refurbish unwanted computers and supply them to community projects. Part of Justine’s project was to supply technology training to disadvantaged communities, and Neighbours Can Help is about bringing individuals together online so they can help each other.”

“So Neighbours Can Help applied to Rotherham Council for some funding for our collaboration, and we were very proud to be selected from a shortlist of 20 others,” said David Child of Neighbours Can Help.

Councillor Doyle, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care said of the project at a recent celebration event: “What makes this project special is that it was selected from over 20 others by a panel of customers, carers and Council Officers. The panel was able to see, from speaking to the project leads, what I see today; the potential to bring a community together. This project has started to bridge the gap between generations, facilitated the transfer of important skills between residents, and brought the local community and statutory services together.”

View video footage of project here

Join Silent Cities on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/silentcities

Follow Silent Cities on Twitter (PR/news/board views):

http://twitter.com/silent_cities

Follow Silent Cities founder Juastine Gaubert on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/silentshe

Join Silencebreakers on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/silencebreakers

Follow Silencebreakers on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SilenceBreakers

Mum’s The Boss talk: How businesses can harness the power of traditional print media

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you can’t have not heard the increasing buzz over businesses building their public profile through engaging their existing customers and potential new ones through social media.

Underneath all this new-fangled noise and bluster though, if you listen very carefully you can still hear a constant older hum and it’s one which often provides the original content these digital channels so sorely need and consumers still rate surprisingly highly in terms of trust.

This older ‘hum’ was the subject of an informal talk – ‘How to harness the power of traditional media’ – I delivered to a 15-strong child-friendly networking group Mum’s The Boss, in Sheffield this Tuesday. As I explained to the group, even though social media is grabbing everyone’s attention, it’s the editorial content of traditional media, like magazines and newspapers, which still tend to set the news agenda and are likely to carry on doing so for some time to come.

I talked everyone through three simple steps towards gaining editorial coverage for their businesses: Step 1: Focus on your target media, Step 2: Uncracking the print media code (what makes titles tick & how consumers regard editorial) and in Step 3 I showed everyone a couple of articles I’d placed as a journalist and asked them to start thinking like editors…

Special mention goes to the ‘honourary’ female at the meeting, Jon Hilton, MD of Pulse Rate Training Ltd – and the first ever male attendee of Mum’s The Boss South Yorkshire!

Here’s 5 more top tips to help businesses create positive headlines:
• Great stories are media gold dust! Brands who understand the power of personal stories have more success connecting with their audience, being remembered and creating brand loyalty.
• If you don’t already know your target media, research it! Buy the title & study it or look at their online offer. If they have website, look on advertisers section as will have details about their audience demographic, official circulation figures and other useful info.
• When you’re ready to approach a title with your story, write a short, well-written and informative press release, include a photo & always email to a named journalist/section editor. Build connections with these journalists – you might not strike lucky at first but learn to understand what they’re looking for as they are the gatekeepers to unlocking great editorial coverage.
• In many national female consumer magazines (and some newspapers or trade titles) if you are talking about your personal story to highlight your business it’s often acceptable for your website details to be featured in the article. Many womens’ magazines also permit copy approval to interviewees (this will mean final version of the article will be read to you over the phone) – if in doubt, ask.
• Once your story is out in local press, be aware there is a good chance it will get picked up by national media – (this is how many national stories are still sourced by journalists).

So don’t believe the hype. Print isn’t dead (not quite yet anyway). And great editorial coverage still has immense value.

http://www.mumstheboss.co.uk/syorkshire/index

Sheffield tops bill as UK’s most productive Creative and Digital City

Ventana House at Sheffield Digital Campus, image supplied by Creativesheffield

Sheffield is the leading city for Creative and Digital Industries (CDI) in the UK and the most productive of all the cities assessed, according to a recent study.

Between 2003 and 2009, Sheffield’s CDI sector grew at a faster rate than the UK average and all 5 comparator cities – Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Bristol says the report by Trends Business Research Ltd.

James Wilson, Investment Manager for the Creative and Digital sector at Creativesheffield, said: “These fantastic results reinforce the fact that Sheffield excels in the Creative and Digital Industries and is real testament to the hard work and commitment that the companies who operate in the city devote to their work.

“This growth is also reflected in the take up of office space within the innovative Sheffield Digital Campus. The latest high-profile edition to Ventana House at the Digital Campus is the entertainment and communications giant Sky who is creating over 500 new jobs in the city. This has been a welcome boost to the city’s economy and the profile of the sector.”

Toby Hyam, Managing Director of Creative Space Management, added: ““Our specialist centres such as Electric Works at the Digital Campus are, despite everything, seeing higher levels of occupancy than ever before. There is no doubt that, for many small businesses, competition is particularly tough and trading conditions remain uncertain. Yet despite these challenging conditions, it is impressive to see businesses investing in new workspace both to improve their competitive edge and to create opportunities for growth.”

The report found the digital sector in the City Region to contain over 6,000 CDI firms, employ 20,900 people and create a turnover of over £1bn. The largest sub-sector was found to be Hardware and Computer Services, followed by Software. Sheffield exhibits particular distinctiveness in relation to the Craft and Design sub-sectors – providing a nod to the city’s manufacturing heritage.

Wilson continued: “The CDI companies within the city have achieved some fantastic accolades. A few examples include: Zoo Digital, which makes software for interactive DVDs, is gaining recognition in Hollywood; digital communications from QUBA has helped organisations like the BBC, Channel 4, Land Rover and the Carbon Trust to embrace the digital age; and WANdisco, a world leading infrastructure software provider based in Silicon Valley, established their European headquarters in Sheffield in 2008 helping Sheffield to become a world leader in replication software technology.”

Sheffield is also part of the Digital Region – the first major regional deployment of superfast broadband in the UK. “This provides Sheffield with a unique opportunity,” added Wilson. “Sheffield is quickly becoming the most connected city in the UK and has proved itself as a genuine leader in the Creative and Digital Sector. Therefore, in an age of austerity, Sheffield faces a bright future. The challenge for the city is to ensure that it continues to innovate and grow in order to capitalise on the USP that this creates.”

http://www.electric-works.net/

http://www.quba.co.uk/

http://www.zoodigital.com/

http://www.wandisco.com/

Sheffield mobile application goes live

From left: Marc Turley, East Midlands Trains; Cllr Paul Scriven, Sheffield City Council; Brendan Moffett, Creativesheffield; John Pickering, Irwin Mitchell; Darren Pearce, Meadowhall; Tim Pryor, Lloyds TSB.

Launching today, Sheffield is set to become one of the first UK cities to have a mobile application designed for city promotion. Available for download from today, it’s compatible with both iPhone and Android systems.

This news comes hot on the heels of the launch of Sheffield’s new brand strategy and visual identity, which aims to take a more coherent and coordinated approach to marketing the city to three key audiences of Talent, Trade and Tourism.

Brendan Moffett, Director of Strategic Marketing at Creativesheffield who commissioned the application, says: “The launch of this application comes following consistent requests from the city’s business community to be armed with more materials, both printed and digital, in order to sell the city externally to clients, customers, colleagues, potential investors, visitors and acquaintances.

“Wherever you are in the world, Toronto, Tokyo or Tinsley, we want you to be able to show the people you meet how brilliant Sheffield is – simply at the touch of a button.”

The application currently has four key features: Business, an ideal way to communicate to potential investors and external organisations what makes Sheffield an attractive place to do business; Culture, a great snapshot of Sheffield’s vibrant arts, sports and entertainment scene; Photos, providing a look at modern Sheffield; and a link to join Sheffield’s LinkedIN group, allowing people and businesses to make important contacts within the city.

Councillor Paul Scriven, Leader of Sheffield City Council, comments: “It is fantastic to see Sheffield at the cutting edge of using new media to sell the city. I’m always talking Sheffield up when I meet people from around the UK and the rest of the world. So it’s great news that I can finally do Sheffield justice when explaining about our wonderful city by using the features included on the app.”

This work has received private sector support from Irwin Mitchell, Lloyds TSB, Meadowhall and East Midlands Trains.

John Pickering, National Managing Partner at Irwin Mitchell, adds: “This application will be particularly useful for organisations and individuals who are regularly asked about Sheffield’s USPs at meetings and conferences outside of the city. Being able to show people on my mobile phone will create a fantastic impression of the city and make my job a lot easier when explaining why Sheffield is a great place to live, work and do business.”

Councillor Scriven concludes: “I urge everyone to download this free tool and show it to their friends, family and business contacts so that we can all become ambassadors for this great city of ours.”

The application was designed by Iris Associates and is only the first step towards developing the city’s cross-platform communications into 2011.

Holy Smoke! Why I thank Sheffield for my divine DIY events trinity

Are you familiar with the idea of the power of three? Don’t worry, I’m not getting all mathematical on you.

I’m talking about the generally well-accepted principle that when it comes to effective communications, our brains are best at grasping information as a trio.

Of course, most of the time we aren’t conscious of the fact that many of the most inspirational speeches and phrases of our age are peppered with examples of this oral ‘trick’; ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’, ‘hook, line & sinker’ and (here comes that crucial third point) ‘signed, sealed, delivered.’  You get the idea…

Well over the last three weeks, my calendar’s certainly been shaken up (in a fantastic way) by three great events, which have definitely left their mark in my thinking.

The first one was self-generated, born out of a casual chat a few months ago, over a drink with my self-employed illustrator friend Richard Smith. ‘Why don’t we hold an evening business social, inviting contacts from the creative and commercial sector?’ we asked ourselves.

Before you can say ‘How hard can it be?’, the venue was booked, invites sent and the night was upon us. Held at Henry’s bar in Sheffield city centre, the 130-something guests we’d invited duly turned up in their droves and created an incredible buzz, no doubt buoyed by a free glass of bubbly and some complimentary nibbles.

On a serious note though, both myself and Richard were completely blown away by the response we had from our guests – and judging by the string of enthusiastic comments I had on the night and since (‘You got exactly the right vibe going – it felt friendly and inclusive which is a rare thing indeed. Best networking bash I’ve ever been to!’ Justine Gaubert, founder of social enterprise Silent Cities) it looks as though another one may well on the cards…so watch this space!

Yours truly at our event at Henry's. Photo credit: Justine Gaubert

Roll call of special thanks goes out to AV events firm CVC Event Services, who provided the PA equipment FOC, and the following local businesses who kindly donated a prize to our raffle and helped us raise £61 in ticket proceeds, in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity – We Love Sleep, Integrate Nutrition, Richard Smith Illustration, The Heavenly Cheesecake Company, PJ Taste, Tender Loving Care (TLC) and Fix-my-PC.net. Check out their links at the bottom of this post…

Back to that trinity again and the following week, I was invited to another free Sheffield event, which perfectly encapsulates the DIY ‘can do’ spirit of the city’s business and creative community – the launch of The Blue Shed, a 1,500 sqm arts venue (with performance space and fully-licensed bar), which has been converted from an old workshop by engineering firm Ekspan.

Paul Scriven Sheffield Council leader with Ekspan CEO Matthew Dronfield

Sheffield Council leader Paul Scriven officially did the honours with the unveiling of this new brand – the space was previously up-and-running under the name of the Brightside Project – and again I found myself with bubbly in hand and an unexpected spring in my step.

I was struck by the energy and goodwill – and dare I say it excitement – palpable in the air in respect to this forward-thinking enterprise. Here’s a video snapshot of the night, created by Richard Bolam Digital Media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioBKhqNX2Dc

My trio of positive experiences – in the very same weeks when the deep government cuts were slowly trickled out – ended this Friday morning, at a fantastic networking event, organised by Time2Network (http://twitter.com/time2network), held at probably the most famous eaterie in Sheffield right now (thanks to their well-deserved success in becoming semi-finalists in Gordan Ramsey’s Best Restaurant TV show), The Milestone.

Three elements (of course!) made the meet work well in my eyes – there was a diverse mix of proactive people, the venue suited the informal format and as you’d expect the breakfast was spot on. Hats off to organisers Alan Fenn, of Compass Distribution and Jon Covey of Sponduly.

So…

yes, the cuts are here

yes, our financial belts are set to get pinched like nobody’s business

YET there’s still spirit to the power of three in this city I’m proud to call my home.

Links:

We Love Sleep: http://www.welovesleep.co.uk/

Integrate Nutrition: http://www.integratenutrition.co.uk/

PJ Taste: http://www.pjtaste.co.uk/

Fix-my-PC.net: http://www.fix-my-pc.net/

Richard Smith Illustration: http://www.richsmithillustration.com/

The Heavenly Cheesecake Company: http://www.heavenlycheesecakes.co.uk/

Tender Loving Care (TLC): http://www.tlc-childcare.co.uk/

CVC Event Services: http://www.cvceventservices.co.uk/

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity: http://www.wphcancercharity.org.uk/

Silent Cities: http://www.silentcities.org.uk/

Henry’s bar: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=364882495011

Richard Bolam Digital Media: http://richardbolam.net

The Milestone: http://www.the-milestone.co.uk/

Compass Distribution: http://www.compassdistribution.co.uk/

Sponduly: http://sponduly.com/

From Sheffield to China: Chengdu trade visit hailed a huge success

Sheffield delegation get a warm welcome at Chengdu Blades (Photo: Creativesheffield)

Sheffield businesses who took part in a recent trade mission to China have hailed the trip an “out and out success”

The trade visit was organised by Creativesheffield and South Yorkshire International Trade Centre and led by Cllr Paul Scriven, leader of Sheffield City Council. Paul’s participation in the visit to Chengdu came following an offer from the Chengdu Blades, the Sheffield United associated football club based in Chengdu, who strongly supported the trade mission.

The aim of the visit was to facilitate local businesses, with access to Chengdu’s business community through the links that Sheffield has built with Chengdu – Sheffield’s new partner city.

David Cross, Director of Coda Studios who took part in the trip, said: ”The Creativesheffield Trade Mission to Chengdu was an out and out success. What more can local businesses want when the Leader of the City attends to add weight and kudos to your trip? It is impossible to underestimate the importance of Cllr Scrivens attendance. He managed to open doors for us to businesses and organisations that would have taken many months to do alone. The fact that this trip was part funded and organised by Creativesheffield shows how dynamic and farsighted this city has become with regards to business and ambition.”

Another member of the delegation, Sheffield United’s group executive director Mike Farnan added: “This was probably the most important trip that representatives from Sheffield and Yorkshire have made since United’s chairman Kevin McCabe acquired the Chengdu Blades. It showcased the work that Kevin and the team have been doing in forging business opportunities for both regions.”

Joanna Lavan, International Manager at Creativesheffield who organised the mission, commented: “I am delighted that the businesses who took part in the trade mission have found it such a huge success. During the visit, Creativesheffield signed an MoU with EUPIC which will help support Sheffield businesses seeking to develop opportunities and cooperation in Chengdu. The attendance of Cllr Paul Scriven really helped to raise the profile of the delegation and the relationship between the sister cities.”

Councillor Paul Scriven, leader of Sheffield City Council, concluded: “The mission has also really helped us to raise the profile of Sheffield in China. I was invited to give the opening speech at the Biopharmaceutical Forum at the EU-China Business and Technology Fair where I was able talk about Sheffield’s achievements and the city signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Chengdu Municipal Foreign Affairs and the British Consulate General Chongqing on Chengdu’s Sustainable Development into a World Modern Garden City. These will hopefully lead to further jobs and business for Sheffield.”

I’m a Portfolio Careerist… and I’m Confused!

by Declan Hill

Last week I was chatting with someone about a potential joint venture, and she used the term ‘portfolio career’. I didn’t know what it meant, so, being a man, I ignored it in the hope it would go away. But in my inbox later that day came Beermat Entrepreneur Mike Southon’s regular FT column about the very same subject http://www.mikesouthon.com/mikes-e-zine/ (Pssst… look out for Mike’s forthcoming piece about Sheffield’s MADE Entrepreneur Festival, details here: http://www.madefestival.com/)

A portfolio career, it turns out, is a combination of part-time jobs which then make up a full-time career. And, because the world is our oyster and the future certainly isn’t a clam, we can get paid for doing lots of different things – jobs we like, jobs we suffer and passions that we share with people.

Apparently, ours is the first generation to look upon portfolio careers as an option. Our parents and the generations before us are still of the idea that there’s one job or career for life, while those who are graduating now will have a number of different job centres where they can sign on (if you believe the media). And Europe has led the way with our American cousins looking on, wondering whether or not to bite the polycareerist bullet.

The thing is, now that I’m a fully fledged member of the portfolioso, I don’t know how I feel. Initially, I was relieved. So it wasn’t just me that spent their mornings deciding which job hat they were wearing that day and being schizophrenic when people asked them ‘what they did’, I’d joined a club and it was OK to be a member, I could look my parents in the eye and tell them that I had got a proper job after all. I used to think that I was doing two or three jobs (writer, massage practitioner and theatre producer) because I hadn’t made my mind up which one to take seriously.

Now it’s OK to do all three. And they’ve served me well in the downturn as I was made redundant from one and had the backup of the other two to help tide things over.

But my petty jealousies still exist, even though I’m doing what I love. I bet everyone else who’s chosen the portfolio route is doing really well at it. Yeah, they’re swanning around with fantastically high-paid jobs which means they only have to do one day a week of each, leaving time to put their feet up with a good book or have lunch in the middle of the golf course, while I have to slave away six or seven days a week to make ends meet.

The great thing about a portfolio career is that variety definitely is the spice of life – I’m not locked into one path, whether self-employed or PAYE, and I never get bored or feel I’m on a treadmill. It doesn’t suit everyone and I still need to get the self-organisation licked, but this career path leads in many directions and there’s lots of beautiful scenery.

www.sitcommission.com

www.3rsmassage.co.uk