Continuing to reflect on happiness and social capital

The Office for National Statistics have this month (May 2017) just published another edition of the research generated by The Social Capital Project.

Read more here…

The ONS research key indicators of social capital to measure our societal constructs, begin by defining social capital as ‘…the connections and collective attitudes between people that result in a well-functioning and close-knit society‘.

Social captal, the ONS argues, is a useful indicator of ‘…positively functioning well-being, economic growth and sustainability‘.

(We like the framing concept. A better composite measure of human well-being, despite its overt press for economic growth. Better still than measures of ‘human capital’. Prof. Peter Fleming of the Cass Business School has, ahead of his new book The Death of Homo Economicus, written a comdemnatory article of this latter movement in the US journal aeon. Explore it further here…).

Social Capital in the UK 2017 - image and web link
View, print or download the full ONS Report here…

This new ONS Social Capital report builds upon a 2016 version, ‘Measuring national well-being: An analysis of social capital in the UK‘ .

The original twenty five key indicators have been modified slightly in this new edition, although the report intent and key analysis remains the same.

See the full ONS report here (.pdf).

The main findings:

1. The most recent data show a largely positive picture of social capital in the UK over the longer-term with over half of the indicators showing improvement over a period of 3 years; a majority of indicators showed improvement or no overall change over the shorter-term 1 year assessment.

2. Most adults in the UK have at least one close friend, rising from 95% in 2011 to 2012 to 97% in 2014 to 2015. However, there has been a fall in the proportion of people saying they have someone to rely on a lot in case of a serious problem; this figure fell from 86% in 2010 to 2011 to 84% in 2013 to 2014.

3. Over two-thirds of UK adults (68%) report stopping and talking to their neighbours in 2014 to 2015.

4. More people are engaging in unpaid volunteering; in 2010 to 2011 the figure was 17% compared with 19% in 2014 to 2015.

What we find interesting in a time where the surface layer of community would, taking a ‘tabloidest’ view perhaps, be comprised of dissent, emnity and huge inequality – there appears to be, in the human interactions referenced, a solidarity and an acceptance of the ‘the other’ that media headlines would deny.

The data presented indicates that this local solidarity is not shaded interpretation or government spin.

The broadly rising ‘close friendship’ indicator may be that in times of community erosion or flex, then people will talk to each other more, seeking a compassionate connection in the face of adverse societal perceptions.

That we now have less people to rely on in emergencies or difficulty may be an indicator as to the qualitative depth of those interactions. We are less likely, perhaps, to seek aid and succour from those whose political opinions, or economic empowerment, we now know radically differs from our own.

The indicator on neighbourliness, whilst good in itself, is a pointer to a shallower qualitative social encounter perhaps? (Not least further affected by the ‘Brexit’ referendum perhaps?

Working in the Third Sector, as we do, the most telling headline for us is the rise in volunteering. This can be a reflection of, for example, more food banks need more people to staff them. More likely, in times of fractious community or political change, the Third Sector and an engagement with it, sees the power of voluntary group activity continuing to manifest itself.

To create your community enterprise or social support service with volunteers provides balm to a troubled community, no doubt, but also increases self confidence, active participation and engagement in communities which hugely benefit the skill set and self-esteem of the person volunteering too, we would argue.

It is heartening that this indicator, in the report, shows a consistent rise from 2010 onwards.

Section Eight of the full report contains the Trust and Co-operative Norms data, drawn from a variety of sources. Whilst 70% of survey respondents say that ‘…most people in their immediate area can be trusted’, only 35% have trust in central Government, and only 35% of respondents indicated that ‘most people can be trusted’ on an aggregate view of their nation, or beyond their local neighbourhood.

In our small way, we work creating community projects across the UK, and work to engage a wide variety of families, children and young people and Third Sector organisations. Those communities, for us, are conditioned by their similarity, not their difference.

The old maxim, that cities are in fact a collection of villages, holds true, we think. From within, all our neighbourhoods, in our experience, are populated by individuals striving for their contentment and happiness, to add to their community’s social capital, if you will.

The measure of our own social capital, and happiness, from the reading of this ONS report is perhaps to step up the fight on inequality and to resist ‘tabloidism’ and the ‘three word headline’ when thinking in community or humanitarian modes.

You can read more about the ONS Social Capital Project on-line here.


Coda: The psychologist Robert Waldinger, in a TedTalk of 2015, discussed the findings of the Harvard Adult Development Study. Continuously tracking the lives of 724 adult U.S. males over a sustained period of 75+ years to now..

What can be drawn from the research is the immense importance of relationships and community, in the emergence of healthy, active and content lives. Clearly the pursuit of wealth, fame and other ‘commonsense’ consumerist goals for achievement fall away in terms of objective true value.

(See more at Security of attachment to spouses in late life: Concurrent and prospective links with cognitive and emotional wellbeing – Robert J. Waldinger et al – Accessed May 2017)

It is interesting that the ONS study above should be focused on human capital as a driver for economic growth. Whereas, in the Waldinger thesis, the very opposite is true of long-lived, happy humans.

Oh that government should directly invest in equal measure, then, in the voluntary sector, with all its diversity, complexity and community affinity, as it does in trying to achieve economic micro and macro permanent ‘market’ growth?

Now that would make us happy!

A Social Business Christmas

Image: Christmas learning from Barcelona

Preparing for Christmas we realised that although we have a number of active and complex projects moving ahead into 2017, including more international book and author events, web and communications build-outs for community clients and development of our literacy and book projects, we had no homework!

So we have signed up, via the latest batch of FutureLearn subjects, to a course on Social Business and its development, delivered in partnership with the Universat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

Social Business: a Sustainable Way to Face the Most Pressing Needs of Our Time, as the on-line collaborative course is called, will enable us to test our belief that we are a social business, effectively working as a not for profit company, or rather generating profits with social outcome as the expected significant return.

‘We will begin by defining a Social Business according to Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laurate 2006. We will look at how a Social Business is different from other similar concepts such as Social Economy or Social Enterprise’.

We hope to see how the theories of Muhammad Yunus match our delivered practice, and to discover how other international social business developers interpret their work through the academic theory and practical dialogue that the ‘Pompeu Fabra course will deliver.

Our course starts on 5th December 2016, so there is still time to visit the FutureLearn pages and to sign up. Read more here

The course is free and lasts for four weeks, but is designed to enable you to both learn and share your experiences in just a few hours a week.

We’ll let you know how we get on. Happy Christmas to all our readers!

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Tackling Charity Social Media?

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View or download your copy here…

Skillsplatform.org have just published a new, very comprehensive charity social media tookit.

The work, by Zoe Amar and David Evans offers the sector a profoundly useful resource to grasp the first principles of social media. Helping you to understand the workflow and context needed and to be able to create and deploy a social media strategy of utility to your organisation.

‘We wrote this guide for everyone, from all-hands-on-deck small charity workers to experienced digital managers in need of inspiration. Most of all, we want you to finish reading this guide bursting with ideas, strategies and tactics for your organisation’.

Spread over eight chapters the toolkit includes:

  • Your Social Media Strategy
  • Putting Social Into Action
  • How to Grow Your Social Network
  • How to Campaign and Fundraise with Social
  • Social Media Style and Consistency
  • Social Analytics in Advertising
  • Employee Social Media in Advocacy
  • The Future of Social Media for Non-Profits

Whatever your level of engagement with your partners, donors and funders or service users, then this toolkit should prove invaluable in refining your strategy, improving your audience interest and engagement, as well as adding to your social media skills as a professional.

You can access the toolkit on-line directly here, or download your own pdf copy here.


SmithMartin LLP are providers of web and communication services to the charity, education, social and community enterprise sectors.

We are happy to help any organisation across the UK to develop a web presence or new media strategy at any time. Contact us here.

Building the charitable web as a compassionate social business.

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Communications delivered…

 

Book Fest Hong Kong 2016

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Break time, seen from the 8th floor of the Kellet School in Hong Kong…

Sue Martin and the Books go Walkabout team are in Hong Kong this week. (May 2016)

Working in partnership with The Kellett School, with generous funding from the school Annual Fund, Sue and a fabulous creative team of authors, photographers and poets, are delivering Book Fest across two campuses on the island.

The programme of work, is designed to add value to the schools curriculum around writing, story creation and delivery, as well as creativity and critical thinking about form and content.

The work is delivered by Australian Author Carole Wilkinson, Nigerian author and photographer Ifeoma Onyefulu and poet and writer Cheryl Moskowitz.

bookIconImageYou can see the daily narratives and galleries of the creative energy generated on the project pages of Books go Walkabout here.

After the week long event we will be publishing our learning and recommendations for trans-continental book and literacy project delivery, as well as celebrating, in detail, the work of the children who were enthused and creatively encouraged by our authors. Watch this space for details.


Editor’s Note:

SmithMartin LLP,  through the vehicle of their international books and literacy project, Books go Walkabout, are actively seeking more project partners in both the USA and Africa.

We use our project management, book procurement and curriculum support skills to devise, develop and deliver cross community, cross art form projects to interested clusters of schools, community organisations or tertiary education settings.

Contact Sue Martin at SmithMartin LLP for informal discussions at any time.

Image credit: Eigth floor image courtesy of Sue Martin
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International projects created and delivered…

Jeremy Corbyn pledges support for Youth Services

A CYPN article - web link‘Labour leadership front-runner Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to fight for statutory youth services if he is chosen to head the party.’

Children and Young People Now have published, on 11.8.15, an article about pledges and commitments made by Jeremy Corbyn.

‘Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn pledges statutory requirement for youth services.
Islington MP Corbyn, who is ahead in the polls to be next Labour leader, said his party should maintain a commitment to a statutory youth service in order to offer young people the benefit of wide-ranging advice, guidance and support to access further and higher education.

His pledge comes just months after Labour ditched its commitment to statutory youth services prior to the general election.

The party’s Youth Manifesto for the 2015 election ruled out forcing councils to provide a minimum level of youth provision, committing instead to a “root and branch” review of youth services should it win the general election.

Corbyn’s pledge to pursue statutory youth services featured in a youth policy document published yesterday.’

SmithMartin Partnership – working with communities

Venturefest 2015, April 14th

Our Partnership will be exhibiting in the Social Business Hub of Venturefest East Midlands, in Nottingham, on Tuesday 14th April 2015.

Supporting the Social Business Hub visitors in their exploration of the newly emergent Social Business sector.

venturefestLogoWe will be working with Roger Moors of SEEM in Nottingham, our client, helping to create new pathways to social outcome for mainstream business. These outcomes are no longer the sole remit of the Third Sector in the UK, with many SME’s particularly, being interested in how they can build social outcome into their business profile, delivery and surplus generation.

We can help you achieve these aims.

We work collaboratively with a wide range of organisations across the UK, helping establish new projects and sustainable community business ideas in schools, children’s centres, charities, social business and community enterprises of all kinds.

We have a wealth of experience in business case development, business model exploration, budgeting and business plans – as well as expertise in ethical business operations, marketing and delivery.

We are particularly strong in the childcare, education and literacy sectors. Finding new ways to add value to traditional supply chains and helping to introduce new models of ‘learning and earning’ into traditional institutions and settings.

Bringing together the best of enterprise creation, third sector social gain and mediated management across our whole sector experience. We specialise, as a Partnership, in the following areas…

  • Social Business and Charity Development
  • Education, Early Years and Literacy
  • Funding and Governance Support
  • Web, New Media and original Content Creation

You can still register for your free ticket for Venturefest East Midlands 2015 in Nottingham here.

If you are passing the Social Business Hub, call and see how we might help your business ‘go social’. We’ll be pleased to see you.

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See our catalogue of services at Dolphinbookbox here…

 

Tailor Made: How do community groups improve society?

 

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Supporting community, supporting society…

Research from the Community Development Foundation shows that vital contributions from small community groups are making huge benefits nationally to society.

Today sees the launch of a research project ‘Tailor Made: how community groups improve people’s lives’; from The Community Development Foundation.

The CDF have developed a specific micro-site, where the range of research into community group impact can be found. See more detail here.

‘Nearly all of the groups identified as being under the radar, are providing tailored services to their community with an income of less than £2,000 a year. With increasing pressure on public funding, we are using this research that demonstrates the important contribution that community groups make to society as a call to action to secure their future.

The research found that community groups are able to develop ‘tailor-made’ support for people in their communities. They complement statutory services because they have the flexibility to meet specific needs with groups of people or whole communities – providing bespoke support.

The types of outcomes of the work being carried out by these groups include:

  • building safer communities: They prevent crime, support victims of crime and support ex-offenders in rebuilding their lives
  • improving the physical environment: They maintain and improve the physical environment including parks, allotments and buildings
  • improving health and well-being: They tackle the wider causes of poor health and wellbeing such as poverty, housing, employment, crime, pollution and isolation
  • improving local economies:They provide training and support to help people into work. They also contribute to economic growth by supporting people to start small businesses and helping people to manage their money better so there is more to spend locally.’
Posted on cdf blog 29.10.2014

The community groups provide ‘lived experience’ of the issues they are working with which provides a unique insight to support other forms of knowledge. The trust gained by these groups makes people in communities more likely to come forward for help and support.

The research project can be viewed on Community Development Foundation website, as a downloadable document or as a series of chapters on the Tailor-Made research page.

It was jointly funded by The Community Development Foundation, Asda Foundation and Trust for London.

Sue Martin – SmithMartin Partnership LLP, Cambridge- building better communities

Making Ideas Work… training at Canada Water Library

 

m IMG 0687You know that feeling when you have a great idea but the overload of work just weighs you down? Before that happens, don’t let the idea get squashed…. Build Something you Love!

On March 25th our partnership team spent the day with a wonderful group of people, in Canada Water Library, to do just that… Building Something Special. From ideas and concepts to how setting up an organisation in the right framework will benefit the project immensely.

We were working in connection with Church Urban Fund, Near Neighbours and Rev’d Tim Clapton and the people were all connected with Near Neighbours and working as a faith organisation or in connection with faith groups.

What did we discuss? A huge array of the aspects on setting up an organisation, the ethical stance that community projects have at their core, and the passion for supporting and developing people as paramount.

People had come from different communities in London and their set up organisations included;
World of Faith, Clapton/Hackney Gardening, World Beaters, Future 4 All, Alternatives, iiChild, British Rastafari, Community Organising Malawi, VOTY Project, St Mark’s Dalston Junction.

SmithMartin have created www.enterprisingcommunities.today to provide a continual supply of up to date information.

Pleased to support communities.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP

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Image: Canada Water Library

Labour plans for universal childcare

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Ed Milliband has pledged in his new year message to pursue the policy of universal childcare for all pre-school children and to make childcare a priority, if elected as Prime Minister.(Guardian 30 December 2013).In a Guardian interview the shadow childcare minister, Lucy Powell, said of free universal pre-school childcare: “I’d love it to be [introduced]. My job is to make the political and economic case for childcare, not just the childcare offer that we have right now but an extension of that. I am absolutely firmly of the belief that if you invest in childcare it pays for itself over time because it increases maternal employment rates.”

In the SmithMartin Partnership, childcare has always been seen as one of the most fundamental needs of young families. Over the last 5 years it has increased in cost and the argument for developing universal childcare which is affordable and accessible for all remains highly important.

The case for universal childcare was indeed a key part of the previous Labour Party initiatives and with the development of Sure Start provided a platform for a major plank of Early Years programmes for quality Early Years education.

Naomi Einsenstadt developed the concept of Sure Start within the Dept. of Children, Schools and Families, and the move into Sure Start Children’s Centres.Image 1

Good quality childcare enables young children to receive good early years education, to reduce the effects of poverty and to give families a vision for the future.

We hope that this recent statement from Labour will turn into a reality.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – bringing communities together

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