What's Next? Thoughts from our Help and Kindness Project Road Map
Help and Kindness is a ground-up, organically developing, needs-led project.
We have ideas that we plan to develop, and have market-tested with people we think will find them useful. We also have ideas that have been generated in discussion with other people, that might lead to separate pilot projects or partnerships further down the line. Then we have the blue sky aspirations that we're dreaming about too. Our extensive digital experience and agile approach to development means we're adding new ideas all the time, and adjusting our development tasks around the feedback and encouragement we receive from our project stakeholders and friends.
As part of our spirit of openness, here's some of our current thinking. It's a bit long, but please stick with it.
The Paradigm Shift - Our World View
- Bottom-Up Project Evolution. We have built the Help And Kindness project from the grass roots. It is designed to be organic, user-driven, responsive and engaged. We want people to own their information and engagement with the project. We are building systems that will devolve maintenance and engagement to the places where it's needed, and rejecting the paternalistic top-down model of community engagement. We've worked in the community and listened to the people that live here, and developed Help And Kindness as a means to engage at the grass roots, relate to the complicated and messy experiences that are our lives, and work it out together in dialogue with the people we want to serve. We don't know where it will end up, except that it will be what is needed.
- Simple Language. We are building Help And Kindness with "natural language" at its heart. We know technical words can be useful when describing conditions, needs and services, but we also know that people don't use technical language like this unless they have to. Often this language can be a barrier to many people. More often we prefer to speak in simpler terms and phrases. Our search and categorisations accept, celebrate and make a feature of this. It's complicated to do, and is the sort of technical challenge we build solutions for in our other work. It's going to take ongoing development, but we believe this is key to making things really accessible to the whole community.
- Building Community. We know from our research and consultation that Help And Kindness will only succeed if we can make it a good project for people to be involved in. We don't want to appropriate other people's work and give nothing back; we want to help them with what they're doing. We can to do this in many ways; promoting their services, helping with their communications, helping them when they need help, signposting support services, linking them to other local people, helping them find sources of finance or volunteers, catalysing new joint projects, or increasing their scope or influence.
- Serendipity. Help And Kindness will present local information in a way that will allow the kind of "surprise" experience of finding out about something new that you'd discover if you read a village notice board. We aim to give people a really dynamic, and rich experience of what's happening in their community, and encourage people to get to know more about things that happen nearby. We hope that this will also help to encourage people to become more involved in their local community and offer their own help if they can.
- Local. It has to be local. In our rural county, with an ageing population, mobility is a key factor in shaping what people can do and what help they can access. Help And Kindness is designed to celebrate the local; the activities that happen in your hamlet or village, that you can access within 5 or 10 minutes, without a car. We want to show how you can get involved in things happening in the local church or village hall, or around the wider community. Wherever possible we want to tag things to a place and show search results that are near to you.
- Breaking Down Barriers. From the start we have known that Help And Kindness needed to encompass public, private and third sector organisations, groups and individuals. We wanted to break down the silos of information and join them up into one single collection of useful information. We don't want people to have to knock on many doors to get to the answers. Just knock on one - Help And Kindness - and we'll help you get to everything in one place.
- Independence and Reslience. As Help And Kindness is run by a Community Interest Company, we are independent of any other organisation in the county. This means we can change tack, work with many different partners, and tread a more unconstrained path than people providing similar services within most other organisations. We can be flexible and adaptible, and offer an independent, steadying hand to support the reslience of providers, which is particularly valuable whenever there is political, financial and governmental change.
- Signing up to emailed news and updates. We will encourage people to create their own favourites list, of themes, keywords, people, places, interests, etc. and to then to provide scheduled emails containing headlines about any new information that has been added to Help And Kindness that might be relevant.
- Peer-to-Peer. Great community-building happens when people are able to keep in touch with one another, and this is especially true for the organisations and individuals who provide support in the community. We know from experience that people love knowing what else is happening nearby, partly out of curiosity, and also in order to tell other people about it too. We are planning to make it easier for people to contact one another, and get in touch when they need help, or want to promote what they're doing. This could be a simple shout out for an extra pair of hands to help with something, ideas to solve a problems, or feedback on getting a new project off the ground.
- Integration and Blurring Boundaries. Help and Kindness has been a social enterprise in every sense from day one. It has, for instance, had social networking built in, so people can share content from the site easily on their networks. We think it's important to make it easy to engage with services, organisations and with Help And Kindness, on social networks, so the project is designed to feed in to Facebook, be shared on Twitter, and in the longer term, be embedded into other websites.
- Portable Content for Rural Connectivity Blackspots. We want information to be available to people on their phone or tablet while they're out and about, even if they're not on wifi or a mobile network. We plan to allow people to save their favourites, and store them on their mobile devices so they can see key information wherever they may be in the county, without needing an internet connection.
- Open Data Connections. We know a lot about how data can be shared creatively and powerfully to make things work better; make things more joined up; and save time and effort too. We are in discussions with several partners about making parts of our data set available to dovetail with their services using passive data sharing and API data services. This is a two-way street and we are also exploring how to bring in other open data sets into Help And Kindness too.
User Experience and Design
- It Will Evolve. We know that Help and Kindness always be a "live" project. There's so much we can do, and so many things we want to weave into the service we provide. This is particularly true of the design of the website part of the project. Aside from fundamental Accessibility issues, we are also acutely aware that there will be all kinds of uses for the site. The public will use it for some things, while organisations and professionals will use it in another way. We are committed to a long-term evolution of the design of Help And Kindness to respond to the comments and experiences of its users. This may mean developing different design elements for the site that you can choose from, depending on your need. One thing is certain, it is unlikely to stay static, and we'll take any and every challenge on board to help us make the project as accessible and useful to everyone as we can.
- Just Like Real Life. One key component of the project will be the ability to add referral and contextual information to the records on Help And Kindness. Organisations will be able to say how they're related to one another, how they see one another, and why they refer people to other services. This is a feature that is intended to mirror the kinds of conversations that people have in real life, when they say to someone to get in touch with an organisation for a reason; the "because" bit of the referral. This is often absent from formal directories, but we know it can be a critical part of the signposting that helps join up services and the care they offer when people are talking in real life. We see this as a key part of the holistic response we're making to the messy view we have of life, and will allow people to find more things (sometimes unlooked-for) that might help them with any issues that they may have. It will also significantly enrich the data which will increase the search accuracy and completeness.
- Personalisation. We are planning to add in user accounts to Help And Kindness, not only for organisations and groups, but also for the public too. This relates to a number of aspects of the project and ties in with the communications potential for Help And Kindness. It also hooks into the Personalised (Health) Care agenda that is being rolled out across the county. We are discussing with partners how Help And Kindness help people with finding services and opportunities that can contribute to a personalised care plan, and improve health and wellbeing outcomes through accessing local activities and services.
Research And Strategy
- Heatmaps of Need and Provision. We know that there will be a lot of useful data created as a result of the use of Help And Kindness. We'll be able to see where services are located, and also what search requests are entered. This can be combined (subject to good Data Protection governance) with location data to map out service need and provision across the county. We anticipate providing this to partners who may find this useful in the development of their services.
- Developing Impact Measures. We are already working with partners to make Help and Kindness part of the social prescribing services within the local healthcare community, and have begun to discuss how we might be able to develop pilot projects to look at measuring the impact of engagement with services and activities that are signposted within Help and Kindness. We are exploring what the analysis of the "success" of a social prescription intervention might look like, and how it might be woven into the public engagement with the project. This also relates to our intention to help with broad measures of service reach and impact.
- Data Standards. We are already exploring the development of data standards for social care provision with one of our partners. This is key to the integration and interface of Help And Kindness with other organisations, and the sharing of data with other services. We will be publishing these frameworks for comment and discussion as we go.