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!

International Day of Happiness

A Happy School, image
Image: Yonjeee Lee – 12 years old, Rep. of Korea ‘A happy school is not only education, but also friendship…’

Pursuit of happiness is on the global development agenda, but not enough is being done to address learner well-being. UNESCO’s ‘Happy Schools’ framework (pdf) addresses the disparity.

The Global Partnership for Education has a wonderful blog referring to the UNESCO’s Happy Schools framework, whch was originally launched on March 20th 2012.

We hear so much about achievement and attainment levels and the need for testing and assessment so it was with real joy that I read the article and found that there are others who know that happiness is key to learning.

If a child is not happy they do not find it easy to learn!

Some of the source comments are quoted below. They makes inspiring reading and a great encouragement for education principles which believe in the word ‘educatio‘ meaning ‘leading out‘, rather than levels and testing assesments.

”Happiness has captivated great minds since ancient times, with thinkers as varied as Socrates, Aristotle, the Buddha, Confucius, John Locke and Johann Pestalozzi expounding on its nature and the importance of well-being in our lives. And today messages about the importance of well-being, mindfulness, positive thinking and how to live a more meaningful life seem ubiquitous.”

”Happiness has also become a dominant policy concern for the global community. The United Nations designated today, March 20, the International Day of Happiness in 2012 and identified the pursuit of happiness as “a fundamental human goal” the previous year, while the concept of well-being features across many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Just last month, the World Government Summit held in Dubai included a high-level Global Dialogue for Happiness, which examined the issue of happiness from a policy perspective. Speaking at the event, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said:

“Paying more attention to happiness should be a component of our efforts to achieve human and sustainable development.”

“But what role does and should happiness play in education?”

Sue Martin: SmithMartin Partnership and Books Go Walkabout

New ways to search in 2017

We do a lot of desk research on the web, to find protocols we can recommend to clients, as well as looking for new material and content for the web sites we produce, for ourselves and others.

Using the big search engines is fine, but sometimes on a wet Wednesday in March, you long for the search sensation to be a bit livelier, a bit un-normative.

Here are some suggestions.

Answer the Public

Developed to deliver consumer insight in the ‘Age of Google’. We used our standard format testing keyword ‘trees’ and the search results looked like this.

Answer the Public question search....
See more here…

You can choose a variety of approaches to your keyword or phrase. We bet the next time you are deliberating over some stats, or working on a bid, the Answer the Public might help refresh the text.

It really does offer insights and approaches to subjects which, although designed for marketing professionals, can help refresh a jaded search palette.


PDFSEARCH.io

Using natural language processing, the search engine claims to identify relationships between documents and data that are ‘overlooked by conventional search engines‘.

pdfsearcg page - new relationships in information
See more here…

With over 18 million documents in their database, you are sure to find new data and information for your project or narrative.


re:search

‘Search for PDF, Office DOCS, books, images, videos, shopping, word definitions, and more! You can focus on popular sites for topics such as health, business, journals, sports, or recipes, or you can limit the search to EDU/GOV sites, or look deeper into Wikipedia, gene therapy @wikipedia . Google or Bing are still one-click away when you need it!’

re:search - a new qway to search
Discover more here…

You can conduct your search in privacy, with no intrusive advertisements and can pivot your search to a new variety of search sources with a single click.

See re:search here.

 


oscobo.co.uk

Another secure, private search engine that offers a new insight into your chosen subject. No tracking, just search. Looks and sounds like Google, but with none of the lingering oversight, allegedly.

Oscobo - web search made private in the UK
See more here…

Worked quite quickly on our standard searches too.

Oscobo is a UK-based company founded by two guys who left their corporate jobs to work towards a belief they both shared – that personal data should remain just that, personal.

Disillusioned with the corporate world and that the private individual is paying for what seems to be “free” internet content, they felt it was time to turn the tables the other way round.

Oscobo is the only UK based Privacy Search Engine that does not track or store the user’s data’.    Source: https://oscobo.co.uk/    Accessed: 03.01.2017


Whatever new changes and needs for your project in 2017, all our best wishes from SmithMartin LLP.  If we can help, with or without a search, just ask. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

Tackling Charity Social Media?

charitymediatoolkitcoverimage1
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.

smp Plain Button
Communications delivered…

 

The Code Generation

Image 1

‘ Learning how to program is the new Literacy,’ says Marina Bers from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

An article by Niall Firth in the New Scientist 6.9.14, shows how children are using programming and coding skills as part of the new curriculum in the UK. Underlying this new introduction to the curriculum is something much more fundamental to learning, which is, creative intelligence.

Intelligence is fundamental to learning and learning is fundamental to to developing intelligence. A question that is asked by educationalists when trying to foresee into the future for the new generation is how will the learning of today be meaningful to future lives.

What are children doing, how are they learning and what will they need in the future?
In today’s world and looking to the future as much as we can, the answers we suggest are…

Q. What are children doing?

A. They are using technology daily, from an early age they are using devices to control and to manipulate.

Q. What are they learning about?

A. They are learning about the world in literacy, mathematics, science and the other areas of the curriculum.

Q. What will they need in the future?
A. They will need to use a variety of devices to operate, to learn, find out knowledge, explore, be creative and on a merely functional level to be able to exist in a modern technological world.

To enable even the basic methods of existence in a modern world, they will need to operate a number of on line programmes, banking, communication, record keeping and the list is exponential as time moves on.

Children and technology are developing at a pace. If adults are not presently engaged in coding and programming, children are and will be even more in the future.

It will be as important as being able to read, it will be the new literacy. Reading is also in its basic form a method of decoding symbols which leads to interpreting and developing meaning.

There is some evidence that learning to code can boost the ability for abstract thinking and problem solving’ Niall Firth, New Scientist 6.9.14

And that is similar to writing stories, to write music, to create algorithms, to design using geometry, to learn a new language, to decipher writing in non alphabet style scripts, such as Mandarin, Hebrew and Arabic.

Programming and coding, until recently, have been the domain of those most gifted, and rightly so, but now children and young people can lead us all into this largely unknown territory.

In 2012, Code Club was launched by programmers Clare Sutcliffe and Linda Sandvik as an after school activity. It now has 2,200 groups across the UK with volunteers teaching 36,000 children.

In 2014, Microsoft, Google and the Royal Academy of Engineering are working with the DFE on a method to teach school children, how to build software and it’s use, create simple algorithims and to understand the principles of coding. How amazing is that!

‘A major constraint on growth is the shortage of qualified graduates with the depth of knowledge you have from playing around with computers for years. Ebon Upton, Creator of Raspberry Pi.

There are toys available today for coding and these include. Primo, Hello Ruby and Robot Turtles. Other games, such as board games and puzzle books are using graphical programming language.

A programme called Scratch, was set up 10 years ago by Michael Resnick, director of Life Long Learning group at the Massachusett’s IT Media Lab. Resnik believes that children will thrive through learning coding in a world dominated by expanding digital platforms.

‘ Kids shouldn’t be just the recipients of what others are creating.’ Michael Resnick

Scratch is a programme language that is easy and fun for children to use, they can create simple programs by making blocks of instructions to the required sequence and then ‘run’ the code with one click.

The well known programme Minefield uses complicated methods with symbols and structures for the creation of individual worlds.

There are many examples of programmes, downloads, Apps and games which use and establish young people in to a whole new world of learning.

Children are learning some of the following;

Coding – sequencing, planning ahead and making something work in a certain order.

Loops- Snippets of code that repeat steps f actions.

Parallelism – when sequences of instructions can run at the same time

Debugging – running back through faulty code

Abstraction – constructing in layers, so what we see is just the tip of the iceberg

Algorithims – procedures for solving many interfaces of the same problem

We could also look into computational thinking and beyond.

Learning and intelligence using skills that children will indeed use in the future.

A whole brave new world indeed!

Sue Martin – SmithMartin Partnership LLP

Community Energy Projects

Image 1Midsummer and a far cry from the dark days of a northern winter. So maybe not the best time to think about energy and energy savings.

When we heard about community and energy we began to sit up from our sun loungers( only joking!) and start thinking about how communities in all shapes and sizes can take more control over their energy sources and become more efficient.

There are many benefits, the most obvious being coming together as a group to make savings and to use the knowledge and skills of many people to benefit the whole community.

There are now moves to work with, for examples, Parish Councils to engage with their community and become the mover of a community energy project. The team at Community Pathways have a great source of documents to support and develop the projects.

In our partnership, we work with people and community organisations to deliver benefits to the communities and the agencies that support them.

We see the potential impact of these projects in a number of ways; using volunteers, bringing together expertise in skills and knowledge, using local business and groups, working with people across age groups and across family involvements.

There is nothing like making a saving to ensure that people will become active. And this way it can be the community that will be the real winner.

smithmartinadv

 

Sue Martin FRSA- SmithMartin Partnership LLP

Making connections in the Storyverse

We think that our projects are about making connections. Connecting children with books, connecting people with communities, making information freely available on-line for those communities of interest…revealing new things in new ways.

We do use technology, we love the web for its endless potential to reveal and strive to make access to that information and the connections as simple, yet as meaningful as possible.

We recently came across the Small Demons web site. This makes connections from within books, to all the elements of a story that you might think are important.

Small Demons sets out to index the content of books, but to also allow you to cross reference that content with other books, allowing you to build your own Storyboard. This short film gives you a flavour of the intellectual possibilities for your Storyboard…

 

 

As you would expect, the site is fully integrated with all the social media connections you will need to share your Storyboard. (If you have added a book, the site offers viewers the opportunity to buy it too, of course).

You can see a quickly created example of a Storyboard, using some of our interests with the keyword ‘community’ here.

Small Demons is a new way to explore texts, but it definitely captured our imagination.

You can see our books and making connections projects here…

Books go Walkabout        City Stories           Thirdsectorweb

Enhanced by Zemanta

Emotional creativity – imaginative landscapes…

shekhurkapurPic

 

Shekhar Kapur and A R Rahman have created a new Bangalore based social network for creative expression – QYUKI.

Using the internet and a web connection to set your mind and your imagination free.

 

 

The aims of QYUKI are that…

…the platform aims to discover the vast untapped talent of India and the Indian diaspora; mentor and transform them into brands of the future
Qyuki’s dynamic young team lives off one common dream – to empower people’s self-expression and help build their creative identity.

As a tool for social connectivity we liked the system of casting ’emo votes’ for submission to the network. Casting a vote on an emotional basis for what you have just read or seen.

Shekhar Kapur was a chartered accountant in an oil company, before changing his life to become an Oscar nominated actor, director and producer of films.

A visit to the home page of QYUKI offers the viewer a short presentation by Kapur and co-founder A R Rahman – the talk by Shekhar Kapur we found particularly inspiring. He talks about the stifling of creativity and the potential to realise ambitions for young people and how letting go with that imagination and engaging across the world with others for creativity is a great way to change your expectations and those of others. His own life course illustrated.

A philosophy that chimes with our partnership approach to international and UK projects and how to use the internet for community gain and individual expression within a framework of ethical action.

We are currently supporting Marham Voices, a Heritage Lottery funded community project which aims to deliver a oral history and heritage publication for a rural community.

Part of the process is to create an oral archive and free publication for the community and we have built an Open Source and free software ‘tool-kit’ which will enable volunteers to create digital and print outputs for the project – at no cost for users or the project. (The hardware and physical technology generously supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund).

In our own small way we hope that by deploying our technology as a community resource we can help to create an emotionally coherent and better understood landscape for a small corner of the UK…with a lot of fun doing it along the way!

Enhanced by Zemanta

BME support flowers in Cambridgeshire

We are delighted as a partnership to be the web publishers for the new information directory for ABMEC,  a Cambridgeshire based CIC, supporting the BME community in the county.

ABMEC is a lottery funded project, providing resources, training and advice to its community of interest for the last five years.

We are happy to be able to institute a web reference information resource and to maintain the quality and accessibility of the information for ABMEC after the project has reached fruition this year.

You can find the new directory online here at supportingcambridgeshire.com

The service is provided by our community web arm, Thirdsectorweb, who are specialist web and communication suppliers for the charity, education and local authority sectors.

You can find the Thirdsectorweb team here. As works in progress, online directories of socially useful  information are never complete.

If you have information that can go into the directory just add the details to the contact us page on the directory website. The directory team will make sure your information is always current and up to date.

SmithMartin – helping support communities across the UK.