Part 2: The launch event
The room was full of inspirational change leaders, defined not by their organisational positions but by their personal energy, innovative projects and passion for positive change.
If you could bottle the passion in that room, it would be priceless. I wrote last week about the build up to this event: for me, a brilliant partnership with the Think Local, Act Personal team (TLAP), as they are lovely people and have a totally ‘can do’ refreshing approach.
‘Making It Real’ is not a theory. It is a lived experience. The room sang with the voices of for whom this is a daily reality:
James Lampert (@uk_james) from Kent had kindly come early to have a preview of the new Whose Shoes? tool but it was initially ‘all hands on deck’. Before he knew it, he was roped in to decorating the room with some of the fab graphics that Anna Geyer (New Possibilities) had produced at some of the key workshops we have co-facilitated, building the tool and mapping it to the ‘Making It Real’ framework.
Soon we had set up the electronic version of the new ‘Whose Shoes?® – Making It Real’ electronic tool on five tables, in ‘my corner’ of the room with a gifted team of co-facilitators ready to help people try it out! James got his preview and, as someone who has used the board version in both a Local Authority and university setting, his positive feedback was very important to me.
It is brilliant that so many of the key TLAP people, partners and supporters are on Twitter as this helps build the buzz of an event such as this. The tweets here just give a flavour – there was a perfect Twitter storm!
We were quite serious about getting #makingitreal trending at 4pm. What would be a better thing to trend? But in the event we were all enjoying the face to face experience too much, which is really how it should be …not to mention the #cake!
At one point even the TLAP website keeled over with all the hype:
We have a powerful talk about the realities of caring from Dame Philippa Russell and we hear about some of the showcase ‘Making It Real’ projects:
Making It Real for Carers
Making It Real for People with dementia:
And then it’s my turn!
For my presentation, people were expecting me to talk for five minutes about Whose Shoes? It was an amazing experience as I looked around and saw so many of the wonderful people I have worked to co-produce Whose Shoes? gathered together in one room.
But Whose Shoes? is not about what I think.
It is about real people, real voices.
So we did a ‘flash mob’ with people springing to their feet around the room and contributing, reading different Whose Shoes? messages from different (i.e. their own) perspectives.
I hope you enjoy our approach – it certainly kept the audience awake as people jumped up around them 😉
Be warned: it has a powerful ending as Larry Gardiner, living with dementia, invites you to “Walk in my shoes”:
We then had an hour for everyone to take a look at the three new products and I was thrilled to get the chance to show Whose Shoes? to key people who have supported and encouraged its development.
First up were a group that included Bill Mumford, CEO of Macintyre, Justine Thompson, Patient & Public Involvement Lead from NHS England and Laura Robinson, Policy & Communications Advisor at National Voices. What a great group! We only really had time for a ‘demo’ of some of the features which was a shame as this would have made a brilliant discussion group. (Laura Robinson had had a sneaky preview as she was one of many people who helped with testing the prototype!)
It was interesting that, in traditional Whose Shoes? style, each group was completely different. The next, much larger, group included Larry Gardiner and Andrea Sutcliffe, CEO of the Social Care Institute for Excellence. (Official photos to follow!) Andrea’s team had contributed a variety of audios in the tool – I’m not sure whether she recognised any of the voices!
And Larry, as always happens when we involve ‘Experts by Experience,’ wowed people with his insights and practical ideas for using Whose Shoes? as a tool for ‘Making It Real’.
The third group happened to be mainly carers – ranging from an award winning young carer to Elaine Edgar, Head of Policy, Carers Team at the Department of Health. We used the search facilities in the electronic tool to select scenarios directly relevant to carers. Soon we had a lively discussion about a lady in a residential home who wanted to keep her ‘own’ hairdresser rather than the one employed by the care home. There was a ‘lightbulb moment’ when a young group member said that she likes to have her own regular hairdresser. Why shouldn’t older people?
Yes…we were ‘Making It Real’!
And then it was time for cake – TLAP know how to do a good celebration cake!
And we all chatted like mad – people I knew, people I met for the first time.
Many, I at least “knew” from Twitter such a Clare Horton @clare_horton from the Guardian and Michael Edwards @michaellondonsf whom I’d had intense conversations with to try and help secure funding for the fab Healthy Living Club in Lambeth!
Soon-to-be-tweeting Debbie Sorkin, CEO of National Skills Academy, came beetling in from a meeting. People had made a huge effort to be there and I appreciated it!
All too soon, the event was over … but the buzz continued…
How did it go?
I was thrilled when the very first (Twitter) order came from a small, innovative care provider in Cornwall:
It is refreshing how often small enterprises just ‘go for things’. It is something I love about running a small business myself. Decision making is quick and responsive. We are hoping they will accept a free copy of the ‘board version’ too as it is great to reward early adopters. We are very keen to receive feedback and creative ideas to help people get added value.
Cornwall… I smiled as I thought back to a very early prototyping session for the original ‘board version’ with Cornwall County Council… and was delighted to hear that Cornwall have JUST signed up for Making It Real.
It is great that I am now in contact with so many other entrepreneurs and innovators. We understand each other’s journey and the highs and lows and risks involved.
I was sorry that my Twitter pal @legalaware was unable to attend the launch but thrilled that his wonderful new book on living well with dementia (which contains an in-depth case study of the Whose Shoes? / TLAP partnership) is coming to fruition at more or less the same time as my project:
That weekend I needed to chill out. We had a lovely family trip to a Bluebell wood. I feel very lucky to still have my lovely Mum to share successes. She doesn’t understand all the details but still has that unique reaction that a parent has who shares the ups and downs and is there for you whether they understand the detail or not. She enjoyed a Twitter session when we got back (‘enjoyed’? – yes, I think she is starting to…)
It felt a bit like a ‘school report’ – but probably better than the ones I sometimes got as a child… 😉