Institute of Community Reporters to train 100 Community Reporters in 10 countries in Europe

People’s Voice Media Institute of Community Reporters will be training 100 Community Reporters across 10 countries to capture the stories of people’s experience of social investment and social innovation. The reporters will join the European Network of Community Reporters.

The Innovative Social Investment: Strengthening communities in Europe (InnoSI) project is a consortium led by the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit based at Manchester Metropolitan University. They are joined by nine other universities from across Europe and a group of impact partners led by the Euclid Network.

The consortium is embarking on a major research and innovation project looking at how innovative social investment policies can strengthen communities in Europe. The project, funded by the European Commission and lasting 30 months, asks important questions about how European welfare systems designed to protect against twentieth century social and economic risks need to change in the twenty first century.

The project director, Professor Chris Fox, stressed that this is not a traditional research project:

Understanding the experiences of people across Europe who are on the receiving end of social policies is key to our project. That’s why we will be working with People’s Voice Media recruiting 100 community reporters from across Europe and training them so that they can report the experiences of their communities.

The InnoSI project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Voluntary Work and Youth Unemployment

Thanks to Heidi Sandberg from  Social Forum in Sweden for  highlighting  this article from Denmark on voluntary youth work and unemployment.
The articles in the magazine is about volunteering and the role that volunteering plays and can play in a welfare state in transition. The articles identifies questions such as  can volunteering and civil society contribute in relation to the social challenges facing society? The Magazine is in English. and well worth a read.

PVM Chief Exec appears on Voice America’s ‘Story Powered’ radio show

PVM Chief Exec Gary Copitch was asked to appear on the Voice America internet radio station. The show hosted by Lianne Picot talked about employee stories and how stories can be used to increase the health and success of a business. Gary talked about the Community Reporter programme and gave examples of how stories are being used to gather insight which are being used to produce better services and products.

The broadcast can can be found here at Story Powered Voice America

Storypowered VA

How to develop and support a peer to peer youth network using social media a case study

RSY Netzer is a youth organisation that has developed some innovative approaches to using Social Media.  They explain their story, journey and challenges below.

What is RSY-Netzer?

RSY-Netzer is a peer led youth movement where people grow up through the youth movement structure and at the age of 17 take part in youth leadership training, becoming leaders for the younger participants straight away. RSY-Netzer runs events throughout the year including small local day events, national overnight events and residential camps. The events that attract the largest numbers are the summer events including three day camps, one 9 day residential camp, four 14 day residential camps and six Israel Tours on a month long trip. All these events are facilitated by volunteer youth leaders who have grown up through the movement and are aged 17-22.

How is RSY-Netzer a peer to peer network?

“This document should never become stagnant and static; rather it should be continuously discussed, argued over, added to and amended, in the spirit of our movement and making educated choices” RSY-Netzer Policies, Beliefs and Actions.

RSY-Netzer functions as a peer to peer network not only by its leadership structure, but also countless opportunities throughout the year for the members of the movement to input into the ideological decisions of the movement. These include a national AGM of all leaders, where motions are put forward and voted on to update and maintain the Policies, Beliefs and Actions of the Movement (quoted above). In addition there are 3 meetings a year of the senior leaders to input in to the functioning of the movement and a day on the residential camps where the young people themselves can put their own motions forward. This means that people from all ages are inputting into the functioning and ideology of the Movement.

Social media in RSY-Netzer

Use of technology is a key focus for RSY-Netzer this year, this is because as a youth movement we see social media as a way for people to easily connect with what we do, and this lets us get to the core RSY-Netzer experience – which is being together as a community and enacting our values. Social media comes with its own challenges, especially as a peer-to-peer network in relation to boundaries and where people’s personal lives are now intertwined with their life as a youth leader or member. In addition we are aware of the potential of on-line bullying outside of our events. This has resulted in the introduction of a social media policy and accompanying sessions where we educate leaders and young people about awareness of on-line risks and we give them this knowledge for life as well as in relation to our network.


In RSY-Netzer we have a facebook account where we post pictures and information and we also use private messaging to easily communicate with our leaders. This is because members check their facebook regularly and this is an easier and more accessible way to communicate with people in a format that they prefer. We created a new Facebook page in September as a page creates a more effective RSY-Netzer presence online as it provides analytic tools which enable us to assess our reach. As well as giving a snapshot and advertisement of what we do, Facebook is a place for our members to come together outside of events. For instance, one of our active facebook groups is for our Netzer farm (the Netzer Farm is a plot of land on our site where members come together to grow herbs and vegetables). This group is really useful in creating a place for conversation amongst our farmers, which helps to maintain and further the success of this project.

On a festival this year, sukkot, we also used facebook to connect with our members with a video campaign that encouraged a way for people to come together and celebrate across the internet. We no longer have to rely on people coming to us; Social media allows us to reach out to them. The video trend also helped show that our members like videos so we have been posting regular videos to engage with our members and also to promote our upcoming events.


This year we started an instagram account as we found this to be a good way to connect and publicise to younger people in our movement. We upload one picture a day to instagram and where possible tag people in the pictures and encourage them to tag their friends. We have found people like to see pictures of themselves and it helps them relive memories from past events and of course remember what fun they had!


We are using twitter more to engage with older members of the movement especially our leaders. We are posting interesting articles and engaging them in discussions and debates on twitter. We have found we can use this to continue our community as well as helping an RSY-Netzer presence remain in people’s lives year round. As a progressive youth movement, we are constantly striving to engage our members with interesting and worthwhile education and discussion and twitter is a fantastic platform for enabling us to do this.


This year we are also working with a designer to create a brand new website. We want to use the new website as a hub of education. A part of the website will be a blogging section, where our senior leaders will send in articles, videos and other things which interest them. This will engage and empower members, allowing for constant debate and learning together.

Something we’re really excited about is a new ‘ask the educator’ section of our website. People will ask questions and we’ll pass them on to educators to answer them.

On line learning and sharing

In preparation for our events our youth leaders are often not in the same geographical location. In the past it has proved successful to use google docs as a way to share and edit content. A recent example of this, is this winter after our winter camp one of our leaders decided that the song book we use should be updated – he started a google doc, so that all leaders could register their interest in what songs should and should not be kept within the book. Within a few hours a significant number of people had already contributed to the document. We also use google docs as a programme store where people who run for instance, our Israel Tour can read and use programmes from previous year groups.

We are in the process of creating a new website. The old website already has a section for people to store programmes that they have written, however, the new website will be an even more important focal point for the community. There will be the same programme store, but in addition there will be an ‘Ask the educator’ page so that people can submit questions to educators who will answer them, but allow for interaction after the answer has been given. There will also be a blog section, so our members can submit their own blogs about things they are passionate about. We have also facilitated an on-line learning seminar with a Rabbi to learn more about an event in the Jewish calendar this year and we will look to do more of these as it proved very popular.


Years ago our youth movement had a paper newsletter that went out 4 times in the year, this has developed with the times in to a digital newsletter that goes out weekly – it contains information on events, interesting articles and updates on things that have taken place within our community. During our Israel Tour programme we email a daily update to parents about what each tour group has been doing, which includes education information for the parents as well.

The most effective way to keep parents constantly updated throughout the events is twitter as the leaders can upload photos and short updates very quickly and easily whilst they are facilitating an event, which allows the parents to feel a part of it. Some parents don’t automatically feel comfortable with twitter, but we have tried to help them through this. It also creates a community that continues after the event as well.


We currently struggle with engaging people who we do not currently engage. This includes reaching out to communities and young people who do not know what RSY-Netzer is and using social media and the internet to help them find us and engage with us. Currently the majority of people who engage with us online are current members or graduates of our organisation. This means we need to be doing more to find and engage those who haven’t heard of RSY-Netzer before.

Top tips to develop an on line youth community

  1. Use the social media that the age group you are aiming at are most comfortable with – we have found younger people engage more with Instagram whilst older teens tend to use Facebook more.
  2. Create opportunities for dialogue through posting articles and pieces that you know your target audience are interested in – pose questions when you post them.
  3. Use it as a way to maintain memories and connections to events people have been on, by uploading photos and videos and tagging people in them.
  4. Encourage your members to set up their own special interest groups within your online space, so that it is directed by them and allows them to communicate on issues they are most passionate about.
  5. Videos have proved particularly popular, so using a video to promote your message in an interactive funny way can be very positive.


We think that social media allows us constant engagement with our members, the strains placed on young people’s time has increased in recent years through greater emphasis on academic performance and pressures to take on extra-curricular activities to make strong university applications. Social networking allows us to work with our young people all year round, providing educational content and constant communication without them even needing to leave their houses. It comes with its own challenges, but overall we see it as a way to engage with people outside of our events in a positive way, strengthening our movement year round and putting us in a stronger place in the twenty-first century.

Written by

Lucy Stubbs, Natasha Shaw and Libby Burkeman

For further information contact :

Experience Based Design for Clinical Commissioning Groups and other sectors

I came across Helen Baxter recently and we had a really interesting  conversation on Experience Based Design (EBD). It struck me that this approach  is similar to ours and that Community Reporters can be a key part for the capture part of the process. What is useful  about EBD is that is a structured process for patient experience and has the elements of creating the conversations for change which have the potential  to really impact on services. Something we are keen to encourage. But its relevance is not just in the heath field. We see great potential is using this in any fields which want to listen to there service users. So it can be easily used in housing to support tenant participation in co-producing services and also in the education sector in listening to the voice of  students.

Helen explains below more about EBD and how it can be used by Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Experience Based Design for Clinical Commissioning Groups – Helen Baxter 


Experience Based Design (EBD) is a methodology for working with patients, families, carers and staff to improve services. The approach has been specifically developed for use within health care settings, but is also applicable to a wide range of other environments as it is based on user centred design thinking.

Healthcare quality has three main tenets; patient safety, clinical effectiveness and patient experience. The interaction of patients with the services they access, how the service ‘feels’ or is experienced, is given equal importance alongside safety and effectiveness. Experience Based Design allows us to gather insight into how services are experienced based on the person’s emotional response to the interaction. It helps individuals and teams to challenge assumptions and perceptions about what we think the patient or family member feels and needs. It is a method of designing improved experiences of healthcare for patients, carers, families and staff. All of these people work in partnership to co-design better health services. As well as improving the usability of the service, ebd enables commissioners to improve safety and clinical effectiveness, from the patients’, carers’, families’ and staff perspective.

The involvement of patients and staff throughout EBD projects is more profound than that in traditional patient involvement approaches. Using the insights that are captured, patients, families and staff work together to ‘co-design’ improvements to the services. The co-design approach assures that improvements made are aligned to patient, carer and staff experience and truly add value by ensuring that the services provided better meet the needs of those who access them, and those who provide them.

EBD is an approach that allows you to understand the whole pathway, how patients and families and carers interact with health and social care services. It helps to ensure that any initiative does not purely focus on the technical or efficiency related components of the pathway, but the reality of using the service.

The phases of an EBD project:

Getting Started: Setting the scope for the project, engaging with key stakeholders, developing a project plan and baseline measures. Engaging staff, patients and carers in the project

Capture: Gather patient and staff stories and experiences. This is done through using a variety of tools that are chosen to fit the specific environment. At the heart of the capture are semi- structured interviews with patients, carers and staff. One component that should also always be included is observation of the services being provided, as this gives a different, unique perspective. Using video to record the patient stories is valuable for the understand phase of the work as well as engaging wider groups of stakeholders.

Understand: Assimilating the experiences that have been gathered and developing emotional maps to identify areas that have opportunities for improvement. Prioritise areas for improvement with patients and staff.

Improve: Generating ideas for improvement, selection and testing of ideas to try out before any solutions are fully implemented. EBD projects usually highlight a range of different improvement opportunities, some which are ‘just do it’ and others which need more work to improve.

Evaluate: Reporting and evaluation of differences made and the sustainability of improvements

How EBD supports the work of CCGs:

Moving beyond simply talking to patients, to the next stage of actually involving them in designing and procuring services

Experience based design facilitates commissioners’ understanding of the patient journey and how patients interact with services, as well as understand what it is like for those delivering care. The technique will enable commissioners to then, co-design the opportunities and solutions with patients, families and staff.

As clinical commissioning groups consider their vision, values and culture, it is important to consider these co-design principles. There are enormous benefits to be had from operating a co-design culture from the start.

Supporting development of a culture of trust between patients and staff so that they are confident to share problems and truly involve them in co-designing solutions.

There can often be a reluctance to engage patients until the clinicians are all signed up to a particular process solution, which is too late. Using patient stories and understanding patient, staff and families/carers experience is a great tool for engaging all groups of staff. EBD is about understanding the patient journey, through the use of narrative and observation. Usually, seeing a video or reading about a patient’s experience can help to engage staff in using the approach.

For example, using experience based design to design a service for people with long-term neurological conditions gave one organisation a much clearer understanding of how the service was actually delivered, rather than what it thought was being delivered. This led to the design of a well co-ordinated community service, rather than a new consultant-led community neurology centre, which was seen as the early solution by some professionals.

Making efficient use of the time and resources we have for what can be seen as a time consuming approach?

Investing in understanding and co-designing services with patients and their families will save time in the long run. These methods have been shown to “get it right, first time” as they enable commissioners and providers to work in partnership to understand the challenge properly and identify solutions that will be sustainable.

What often happens in innovation and improvement is that we jump to solutions and then quickly implement a change, which, later, requires lots of re-work to try and improve things.

If we understand the problem properly at the beginning, which will take longer at the outset, the solution is more likely to be a better solution that really addresses the challenge. The solution will be of more value and will reduce the amount of re-work that we often see in improvement projects.

Supporting senior managers to involving patients, which can seem threatening, as it can be thought to introduce unpredictability into the process of service redesign.

Often, when engaged in service re-design, staff groups and patient groups identify similar themes. For instance, a problem with a waiting room space may be having an impact on the working life of staff as much as the experience of patients. If the process is managed well, each ‘group’ has an opportunity to air their thoughts and ideas before coming together.

Experience has shown that this process helps to expose what patients really think rather than what staff “think they think”. EBD  is about using experience to gain insights from which you can identify opportunities for improvement. It is about uncovering experiences, not attitudes or opinions, so reduces the risk of people taking any apparent criticism personally.

This approach is not about patients, carers and families providing a wish list; it is about using their experience of services to understand where the opportunities for improvement are.

The engagement tools help by explaining to patients, families and carers that we want to learn more about their experience of the service from their perspective to identify areas and opportunities for improvement. In our experience, understanding the patient journey helps to identify unnecessary steps and non value-adding activities.

Developing approaches for working with ‘hard to reach’ groups (such as ethnic minority communities, people who don’t have English as their first language, or have particular health conditions)?

The EBD  approach is about understanding experience and gaining insights, from which we can discover opportunities for improvement. It lends itself well to working with seldom heard groups.

We would encourage you to focus in on particular groups/communities, where necessary.

This can, potentially, yield extremely useful feedback. For example, when working with maternity services, one organisation identified that a particular ethnic group was recording a high rate of stillborn babies. Using ebd, it identified that this was due to the obstetrician being male, which was unacceptable within this community’s culture. The interim solution was to develop community clinics led by a midwife. Subsequently, a female obstetrician was recruited, which resulted in reduced rates of still births in that ethnic group.

Raising the profile of patient experience a central tenet of healthcare quality.

Patient experience is one of the core tenets of delivering services, along with safety and quality, it is why we are in the business of patient care. It should be a core part of our role in commissioning and delivering high quality services.

If you want further information on EBD please contact Helen at  and take a look on her  web site

Where’s the Story? Story Listening for Leaders

Story listening is not an art. It’s a practice. And it’s really easy to develop if you are willing and able to listen. Stories exist everywhere in your organization. You just need to be intentional about hearing them. A story does not have to be a particular length or a particular structure when it comes to listening. It may be a short anecdote about how an employee has helped a customer or an example of a time when a manager helped someone develop a skill. Or it may be a longer narrative of a long term employee’s experience of the company. Whatever the length or subject, there is always opportunity to become a better leader by listening to stories.

So why listen?

Stories provide rich information about customer experience, about the temperature of your staff team and about how you are doing as a leader and as a business. Stories exist whether you are listening for them or not. The people in your organization and who come across it are telling each other things about their experiences. Listening to stories enables you to respond to what is happening in your business. Note the word respond. Not react. Reacting would mean involving yourself in the conversation and either taking credit or being defensive. Responding involves remembering the stories you’ve heard and allowing them to influence you in developing your policies, creating communications or evaluating progress.

Listening to stories also builds connection. As organizations grow, people can sometimes get disconnected. They may be segregated into departments or work spaces. Strange silo behaviour can erupt into your corporate listening-wide (2)culture where it was never there before. Stories get created about which department is getting more money in their budget or is favoured by the CEO, etc. These are often based on not having enough information about what others are doing or better stories to latch onto. If you have a regular practice of listening to stories, you will be able to be proactive in heading off the negative growth of stories and steer your staff toward more positive tales of cross connection between individuals or teams. Creating a culture of story listening by modelling it yourself will also help keep staff connected to you and the bigger picture of making a difference in the lives of your customers.

How to Listen


Surveys are a great research tool. Unfortunately, too often we rely too much on the numbers and don’t give room for people to actually tell us about their experiences. We go for the easy percentage rather than introduce the hassle of trying to bring together what can seem like random information. However, asking people to ‘Tell us about’ their experience can provide more benefits than are immediately obvious. Yes, the number of people who rated the service to be 4 out of 5 is important. That is good information. But what does it mean? For the business overall, maybe it meets some targets. That’s great. But for the people on the frontline it means nothing. Collecting stories that they can read provides them with valuable information that informs their service delivery. Yep. It’s unscientific. But I guarantee you that your staff will remember the story of why the customer gave them the 2 rating more than they will the overall percentage relating to their performance that month. And they will make changes along the way. Isn’t that what customer feedback SHOULD do? These stories also provide great case studies for training or testimonials for your marketing.


This is my favourite leadership tool. I will admit to sometimes utilizing it because I was bored with some admin task but it is always a valuable thing to do. The key to wandering is being comfortable with not having an agenda or a reason to be talking to your staff. Drop in to an office and see how they are. Ask them what they are working on or about how things are going and listen. Really listen. Ask more questions. You don’t need to stay there for too long.  Then move on to another person. Doing this once a week even makes a real difference to your understanding of what is happening in your organization. AND, it gives you lots of great stories to pull out of your back pocket when you have speaking engagements, meetings with potential partners or in performance reviews. Wandering takes you beyond the monthly reports and gets you in touch with actual experience. And that is where you will find the stories.


If you are wandering as a leader and using story based surveys, you are creating an atmosphere of inquiry.  So your customers and employees may be ready for this little known ancient techniquBusiness man asking questione called ‘asking’. You may not have heard of it in our world of being very ‘busy’ and relying on technology to communicate for us, but it’s a real bonafide way of finding stories. Directly ask your customers or employees to tell you a story. To you personally. If you want to use Skype, Facetime or even your blog, go for it. If you are talking to customers, ask them how your business has made a difference in their lives. Ask them to tell you a story about how you or someone who works for you has helped them. If you are talking to your staff, ask them to tell you about how they have been helped to grow (or not!) in the company or about a time when they felt proud of their work. You will find out how well your Managers are doing and how engaged your team is in your organization.

So get story listening! Not only will it improve your effectiveness as a leader AND help your people feel heard, it will help you to tell better stories. And that is definitely good for business.

If you have any other suggestions about how to listen for stories as a leader, please let us know in the comments!

Lianne is also the Owner of Very Good Stories and a social licensee of the Institute of Community Reporters . You can find out more about Lianne and Very Good Stories at