An Online Elsie…

You know how it is when you can’t make an Elsie meeting but wish you could?  Or think of something helpful as you are on your way home?

Well, fret no more….

We have an online Elsie community where, each month, we will post brief descriptions of the various projects we have helped at the panel meeting, allowing you to catch up and post any ideas that you might have to contribute.  You can also use it as a way to connect with other Elsie panel members, to comment on their ideas and generally do great things!

It would be wonderful to see you in the community – but please remember we are just piloting this at the moment.  However I am sure it might prove popular.

Apply to join the community here:

Look forward to seeing you in the online community and hopefully at our next panel meeting too.  The online community is great – but no substitute for getting out to the real thing!

Elsie Development Meeting – April 2012

First of all a big thanks to the dozen or so of you who made it and to the couple who tried in vain!

We worked in three groups, each focussing on developing specific suggestions that could be implemented to take Elsie to the next level. Each group looked at a difference function:

  1. Strategy and Governance of Elsie
  2. Improving Services to Members and Clients
  3. Marketing and PR

As a starter for 10 Mike offered the following mindmap.

Strategy and Governance Group

So main priority is to clarify vision and values.  Soft approach suggests that at this stage we stay in a loose coalition of citizens format rather than go for a properly constituted group, although this remains a key decision to be taken.  Can we realise ambitions for quality and growth, should they exist, without forming a legal entity?

Anyone fancy having a stab at producing a first draft of any of these things?  Vision and Values?  Rights and responsibilities of members etc?  Standards specifying what members and clients can expect from Elsie?

Improving Products and Services

These are just some notes I was jotting down as the group talked ideas through. Their specific recommendations are here:

I think the case study work can happen pretty quickly as Tess from the university has some ideas on how this can be done while giving students valuable work experience.  And I will start some work on clarifying vision values etc…

Marketing and PR Group

So, once again, if I have got this right the main challenge is to revisit the core message.  What is Elsie…, what do we do etc.

Look to feed regular case studies into local media

Build a team of Elsie ambassadors so it is not just Mike berating people to help!

Anything else big, important and doable that I have missed?

Tess is already laying plans to shoot video witness testimony from both panel members and clients that can be published in both video form and transcribed.

I am going back into wordsmith mode to develop values, vision, core message stuff….

Is there anything here that YOU fancy taking on?

Future Thinking

Whether or not we choose to formalise the entity that is Elsie, I think we do need to give it some more structure and leadership.  We need to focus on:

  • Service Development – making things better for members and clients
  • Marketing and PR – spreading the word, recruiting members, publicising successes etc
  • Strategy and Governance – plotting future developments – realising the vision….

To make this happen I propose that in September when we are 1 year old we should have a celebration at which we get to choose the people who might like to lead in each of these areas and help them to form ‘working parties of the willing’ to drive things along.

I also think that we should elect an Elsie ‘Head Honcho’ with a one year term to help provide leadership and direction and ensure that the three working parties are co-ordinated and effective.

This would provide the opportunity for more people to share in the leadership and development of Elsie, to learn stuff, develop skills etc and ensure that ownership was broad-based.

We could make birthday party and election/re-election of ‘officers’ an annual celebratory gathering.  Thoughts? Opinions? Party organisers?

Many thanks again for the help today folks.  If you missed and want to know more do use the comments box to raise questions or drop me an email.

Elsie Development Meeting

17th April, 9.30-11.30am

CIHM, 4 Springfield Mount, Entrance off Mount Preston Street, Leeds, LS2 9ND

Book Here:

At this meeting we will plan a series of actions to take Elsie to the next level:

  1. Improving the Services we offer to members, advocates and clients
    1. Membership – how to improve its value and recruit more members
    2. Quality of support – how to make Elsie a much more powerful helper
  2. Improving Marketing and PR
    1. Making sure that more people know about Elsie, what we do and how we do it
    2. Winning recognition and supporters
  3. Governance and Organisation
    1. Ensuring that Elsie is run efficiently, effectively and has the organisational platform needed to grow in Leeds and perhaps beyond.

The meeting will be fast paced and action orientated – so please come prepared to offer ideas and if possible some time to help too!

We will work in small groups with a focus on getting things done.

Please bring something to nibble and share if you can….

Hope to see you there.


Some Reflections on Elsie…

Over the last couple of days, with the wonderful support of Cohearent Vision we have managed to train some 25 Elsie panel members and half a dozen potential advocates!

Feedback has been tremendously supportive and encouraging with some excellent insights offered into how we can move the project forward.

Why are we doing this?

Because we need many, many more people developing skills and figuring how they will deploy those skills to make a living. Increasingly this will not be by preparing to ‘meet the needs of big employers’ who may reduce employment rather than increase it.  Certainly we cannot rely on enough employers coming along to create work for everybody – however successful and competent our inward investment strategy.

The problem is not about how we deliver business support (re-arranging the deck chairs on the supply side of the Titanic) but about how we build a context where people, regardless of the scale of their aspirations or the nature of their ideas, can find the support that they need in the communities where they live and with the tools at their disposal. By developing a demand side that is much more effective at both recognising the help that it needs and then sourcing it we could save tens of millions that is otherwise spent on wasteful supply side re-organisation.  We have to build helping technologies that allow people to start from where they are at and work with what they have got.

This is what Elsie is all about…

At the core of this is a recognition that just like it takes a village to raise a child, so it takes a community to raise a successful entrepreneur. We need to build communities that are much more conducive to enterprise which often means cleaning up its reputation, divorcing it from ideology and re-connecting it with concepts such as ‘livelihoods’, ‘community’ and ‘good work‘.


Social Capital – the difference that makes the difference?

Social capital is a measure of the quality and quantity of relationships in a community.  The better these relationships, the greater the social capital, the easier it is for all sorts of resources to flow through the community to where they are most needed – knowledge and skills, under-used tools and even cash.  In communities with low social capital, often characterised by mistrust, greed and fear, people tend to hold what they have instead of making it available for others to use.

The deliberate development of social capital, connecting people, building trust, helping and being helped is perhaps the single most powerful, cost-effective and worthwhile thing that can be done to encourage economic, social and cultural development.  Simply put, social capital reduces the effort and cost of getting things done.  The more social capital, the better.

Elsie is an investment in social capital.

It provides a process and structure where people can come together and get the help flowing to where people can really use it to do good work.

If you would like to get involved and help the help to flow then here is how.