15/12/2011 – Looking both ways
Amongst the variety of creatures in the musical version of Doctor Dolittle, there is a two-headed llama called a pushmi-pullyu. When it tries to move, both of his heads go in opposite directions. I've been feeling a little bit like this of late, both looking backwards as well as looking forwards. It has been a more comfortable experience than it sounds, I have to say. I've been CEO at Lasa for just over a year now and two recent events have given me this pause for reflection about my time at the helm.
We recently published our 2010/11 annual review, not always the most exciting of publications from a charity. Zoe, our Head of Marketing and Business Development, kept ours very light touch and we also used an infographic (with the help of Ashley Goldstein) to illustrate our impact across the third sector. The feedback received was tremendous ("Concise, fact packed and sharable", "brilliant annual review + fun infographic", "Nice to see") and I'm very proud of our achievements in the last year.
Whether remembering the Nominet Internet Award for our rightsnet website or celebrating the 10th anniversary of our knowledgebase, the go-to technology information website, there have been a whole wealth of successes despite the wider economic difficulties affecting much of the third sector. I'm also proud that we've actively helped squeezed charities to make savings through using our services, as well as ensuring they can better deliver their much needed services to vulnerable citizens.
And this week we had our strategic planning away day, with all Lasa staff having the chance to look back even longer, back to when Lasa started in 1984, as well as beginning to plan for next year. Two things really stood out for me over the course of the day. One, the creative and cohesive staff group that we've got, with lots of ideas flying around for the different ways that we can work together and improve our impacts. The other was how much of the work we do has more relevance to the third sector than ever before.
Our technology conference in November saw us making the case for chief executives to start to think more strategically about how their organisations use technology more effectively. The London Advice Conference, organised in partnership with Advice UK, Law Centres Federation and Citizens Advice, also tried to move the debate for the advice sector forwards, to looking at ways that organisations can continue to thrive and survive in challenging times. We worked with Sound Delivery on both events to capture the views of speakers and delegates, another example I hope of us leading by example.
Also worth a mention is our successful partnership working with Social Care Institute for Excellence and Charity Technology Trust (CTT) to deliver the Get Connected Project. This helped over 1,200 social care sector agencies to make more effective use of information and communications technology, providing opportunities for staff, service users and carers to access the benefits of the internet to support learning, training and development, and to enhance the quality of life for service users.
Looking ahead, welfare reforms, such as Local Housing Allowance changes and the introduction of Universal Credit will see thousands, if not millions, of people needing clear advice and information about their rights, responsibilities and entitlements. The localism agenda will see local authorities becoming key providers and gateways for many more services, such as social fund and council tax benefits. The digital by default agenda that sits behind much of the above will see the strategic use of technology come much closer to the fore and presents third sector organisations with challenges as to their more effective use as well.
We've got lots of plans for what we want to do and for who we want to do it with. As well as implementing electronic advice and training systems, we're hoping to develop closer and more productive working relations with partner organisations like Child Poverty Action Group, CTT and AbilityNet. Another example is our new piece of work on "Benefiting London(ers)" with Advice UK and the Mayor of London's office through the AdviceLocal website. I'm also keen for us to make sure that we're listening to the people we work with and for, to make sure that what we do remains relevant and effective - if there are things we're doing that you think we can do better, than please let me know.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and hoping that the New Year brings you much happiness, see you next year.
Posted by Terry Stokes