Community Reporter’s contribute to Big Lottery consultation

Over 120 stories were collected by reporters which contributed to the Your voice / Our vision consultation held by the Big Lottery. These stories supported the development of the new strategic framework. Thanks to the reporters for their contribution. You can see the film here.

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.

Is it really grim up east Manchester?

Institute of Community ReportersCommunity Reporting is all about local people telling stories about their local area and community. East Manchester has featured in the news recently following the killing of two female police officers in the area.

The Observer this Sunday wrote that “parts of Greater Manchester are effectively in lockdown” however for People’s Voice Media, who have worked in the area for well over a decade, there is a rather different picture.

Local residents have been producing a variety of stories highlighting their local community and it’s not about weapons and terror on the streets.

Instead it is those everyday real life stories about Edge Lane Allotments (on the borders of Clayton and Droylsden) holding a Neighbours Day:

An allotment as an oasis.

East Manchester residents celebrating growing their own food:

The Observer describes “North Road that cuts through the east Manchester district of Clayton, a police car can be seen scouting a red-brick boxing gym every 15 minutes… part of the huge police operation designed to stymie further bloodshed”. Less than a third of a mile away is Clayton Sure Start at the Wells Centre.

People’s Voice Media has been running sessions here for many years, giving people the skills to tell their stories and publish them online.

Stories such as what goes on at The Wells Centre

… or the importance of volunteering and getting involved in your local charity shop.

So whilst The Observer reports hopes that “Greater Manchester’s east side does not descend into the intercine gun war that engulfed the south of the city two decades ago” Community Reporters tell a different story.

For more stories from Community Reporters in Manchester see:

And in case you missed the webcast…fear not!

So, last week I attended the Social Link conference in Budapest. There were some fantastic speakers – I particularly enjoyed Michael Sinclair Stewart from UCL talking about their MyStreet project. 

If you weren’t able to follow the webcast live then FEAR NOT friends! Grab a cup of tea and a biscuit and you can enjoy the presentation that we gave about the European Network of Community Reporters here:

And view the supporting slides here:

ENCR Presentation


Mike Wild of Macc on the benefits of Community Reporting for the Voluntary Sector

Macc, a voluntary sector infrastructure  support organisation in Manchester, has bought five social licences to deliver the Community Reporter progamme across Manchester. The Licence will deliver train the trainer programmes whose participants will become Platinum members of the Institiute of Communty Reporters.

Earlier this month the first train the trainer programme took place at Macc as part of the Transforming Local Infrastructure work that the partnership is carrying out. Seven people completed the course and received their Platinum Community Reporter badge. Hannah Powell (from Macc) and Charles Kwaku-Odoi (of Faith Network 4 Manchester) with the support of People’s Voice Media put their newly learned skills into practice recording and interviewing speakers and delegates at the Macc To The Future Conference held in Manchester on September 20th.

Mike Wild, Macc Chief Executive, highlighted the value of Community Reporters to the organisation and the voluntary sector as a whole.

“The reason we’re interested in Community Reporters is the idea that people tell their stories… That’s the way that you shape services that are useful to people”

“When austerity hits, necessity breeds invention.” From grant funded charity to thriving social enterprise

This is the story of how one Manchester based charity came of age and evolved into a social enterprise in its sixteenth year, fundamentally changing the way it did business and offering structured support and income generation opportunities to other organisations in the process.
Big Society

Image taken from Alison Gilchrist T-shirts

It will come as no surprise to anyone that has lived through the ‘credit crunch’ years to discover that the Third Sector or charity sector has suffered immeasurably over the last five years. Austerity measures and cuts have been wide ranging and in place of grants the notion of a Big Society appeared as a policy directive that was akin to sprinkling fairy dust on the spaces were services used to be. But, as the saying goes, ‘When austerity hits, necessity breeds invention’ (or, if you grew up in the 80s, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’) so let us give you one example of how the changing economic landscape brought about some positive change.

People’s Voice Media (formerly Manchester Community Information Network: MCIN) is a community development organisation that has been working in communities since 1995. It has a history of delivering IT learning in deprived communities, through courses, developing local community websites and supporting people to use social media to tell their own stories online. Funding has always come from a variety of sources, but key funders were primarily education contracts, European funding and project funding from various regeneration projects. We were used to applying for funding, tendering for services and creating proposals for work.

However, around 2010, that language started to change.  As Chief Executive Gary Copitch puts it,

“We started to focus less on projects and more on products. Our emphasis was shifting. Our thinking around product then brought other changes to the way we worked and the language that we used. We became more client focused, developed effective use of a CRM and marketing database, created an outcome measurement tool and, latterly, have improved the way that we communicate messages about our work through embedding marketing activity within the organisation.”

This internal rebalancing of priorities and outlook had a profound impact on the development of the organisation in other surprising ways. Gary continues:

“We had developed a community development model that used social media as a way to empower communities and individuals. We found that we couldn’t keep up with the demand of delivering this activity or to meet the requests to work across the country and Europe. We therefore started to consider selling the model to other organisations under licence.”

After some research, it was decided that the organisation would begin to offer its Community Reporting model under ‘social licence’ – a still relatively under-developed area of ethical licensing. Licensing offers an intrinsically more flexible relationship than franchising and this flexibility was important to the organisation, as Gary says:

“We had learned so much over the five years that our Community Reporter model was being developed and we didn’t want that learning to stop within the strictures of a franchise. So licensing was the perfect way to allow licensee holders to continue to contribute best practice learning into the model.

“However, we knew we had something of a difficult sell on our hands. When we first mentioned social licensing to the Board, critical friends and prospective customers the initial response was always that of a blank stare! So we began a twelve month process of refining and refining the offer until, after numerous re-writes of our own material, we finally created an offer that seemed to communicate what we were trying to achieve.”

As licences began to sell, the organisation faced making further internal changes to reflect its new responsibilities.

Institute of Community Reporters“Producing the licensing materials was a useful exercise as it helped us to be really clear about what our roles and responsibilities were to our licensee network. I have been a huge fan of the wikinomics model of trading since reading the book by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams and was keen to find a way of incorporating this into our long-term vision for the network we were creating.

In the short term, we will be the main contact supporting organisations to implement the licence – usually by offering them an opportunity to generate income from the re-sell of  the Community Reporter model but also helping them to think differently about the markets they sell to and how they market and promote their activity – but as the network grows we envisage a shared knowledge culture and cross trading of products and services across the partner network. This not only support the sustainability of social licensees but also creates new partnerships that will develop new innovative products and services. The creation of our Institute of Community Reporters was the beginning of securing this vision.”

Gary summarises the whole experience by saying,

“We have done so well out of restructuring ourselves from a grant focussed organisation into one that innovates and trades as a viable business. It is the spirit of this transformation that we hope to bring to other organisations. We want to inspire them to take control of their own futures, think differently about how they package and sell their services and succeed well into the future – and the collaborative network of organisations that make up the members of the Institute of Community Reporters seems a great way to make this happen.”

If you would like to know more then please visit now.


People’s Voice Media (formerly MCIN) has been a charity and company limited by guarnatee since 1995. See  and

PVM received the Social Enterprise Mark in March 2012.

The ICR was launched in April 2012. See

There are currently 21 licensee holders across the UK and Europe. The European Network of Community Reporters has been established to devleop work across Europe. See

Wikinomics, by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams.

Our thanks go to Keyfund for conversations relating to Social Licensing

Three more organisations sign up for our Social Licence

I am really pleased to announce another three organisations have signed up for our Social Licence and we will be running Train the Trainer sessions with them over the next few weeks .

These are:

The University of Wales. We are working with them in the three valleys in South Wales to develop Community Reporters  as well as working with 3VTV a University project using local online TV to promote the community of Blaenau Gwent.

TGL based in Wallasey in Liverpool. TGL is part of the Holistic Education Foundation Co Ltd. TGL has an innovative product around local currency and banking using points gained from  teaching, giving and learning.

The Patients Association is a national organisation that  listens to patients and speaks up for change within the health and social care field. They will be training their health ambassadors as Community Reporters in Devon.

This now takes the number of social licencees to over 20 with still many more people  contacting us. This is an incredible growth since we first launched Social Licences less than a year ago. We have plans to increase the network even further across the UK and Europe.

If you want any more information  about becoming a social licencee then please contact us  or by telephone 0161 743 3537

3VTV Trainers who have gone through the train trainers course

PA trainers at end of course

Some of the Patient Association staff and volunteers as they complete their Community Reporter training course