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June 14, 2010

How social media will help local government to change the way people live

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 3:48 pm

I’ve penned at length about the social media engagement programme we’ve been working on with Stockport council. But I’ve never fully explained the reason why Stockport have taken on such a radical (certainly for local government) means of engaging with staff and the wider community.

So here’s a bit of background…

Most councils around the UK have been instructed to change radically the way adult social care services are received by the public. In the acronym-strewn world of local government this translates as the mercifully short IBs (individual budgets).

It’s therefore ironic such a little acronym can herald such a huge break from existing social care practices.

It’s not my place here to write about the whys and wherefores of IBs, but it’s suffice to say that it will involve a colossal change in the way all agencies involved with adult social care run their operations. To give you some idea of the extent of the upheaval here’s a short list of some of those bodies and people affected:
• adults social services
o including all directors, managers, front line social workers, social care staff, office administrators, financial auditors etc (hundreds of thousands of people, in fact)
• children’s transition services
• people with learning disabilities
• people with mental health problems
• older people
• all providers of services incl:
o charities
o social enterprises
o agencies (those providing traditional meals on wheels, for instance) for all of the above services
o public sector bodies
o quangos.

The knock-on effects of such momentous changes to so many people will also necessarily involve NHS services and funding. So the network widens.

You can clearly see this will affect the lives of millions of people. And given that most of us act as carers sometime in our lives, I reckon this will touch every person in Britain at some point.

Not wanting to labour the point, these changes are BIG!

So no pressure…

Back to Stockport, the comms platform aims to tie all these disparate elements together in a single portal that works predominantly through video blogs, as well as written and audio material. The idea is to help record the experiences of people – staff and people using the services – so everyone has a voice and has the ability to participate in this culture change.

Last week Stockport formally hired their community manager for mental health services. Christopher Reeves is an ex-service user who will now go into Stockport and Greater Manchester to help build the online community. It’s a hugely ambitious and exciting project, but I’m sure it’s one that will be rewarding for Chris and the mental health community in equal measure.

Here’s Chris introducing himself to the network.

Christopher Reeves from careknowledge on Vimeo.


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