News

Coastal Housing Association Goes Digital for Tenant Engagement posted on 27 Oct 2015

Tenants attending Coastal housing’s recent Tenant Fun Day recently ‘Got Digital’ as we launched our new Tenant Voice platform. We also gave away some fun prizes for all having a go – and one lucky tenant won a new android tablet device.

VocalEyes now available for Coastal’s tenants to enable them to advocate, be active and make a difference.

“VocalEyes enables any tenant to rate, debate and contribute their own ideas using digital technology that enables all tenants to have an equal voice and will help Coastal to clearly see the priorities,” said Kirsty Walton, Coastal’s Customer Services Manager.

“We are also looking for enthusiastic tenants to join the admin team and help feedback all the ideas and then report back the actions onto VocalEyes so that everyone can see what is happening with their ideas and the proposals they’ve voted on.”

At the Fun Day many had a go using the system and 50 signed up. VocalEyes can be accessed through any device such as a desktop computer, laptop, ipad, or mobile phone as long as you are connected to the internet.

Tenants can also access VocalEyes training via Coastal’s Digital Inclusion sessions.

 

Picture: the VocalEyes team

Pioneers in Digital Decision-Making posted on 23 Oct 2015
The first VocalEyes Digital Democracy training day of the Scottish Coalfields Regeneration Trust took place on October 23rd 2015 at St Stephen's Glasgow's conference facility.
 
Representatives of several coalfields communities were successfully inducted in all things VocalEyes to enable them to collaborate together on ideas and progress the work of the CRT and to enable their communities to harness digital technology to work together on ideas and priorities.

Photographed are some members of the Scottish CRT team, ambassadors and Sarah Hoss, the VocalEyes director who came to Glasgow from west Wales to deliver the session and forge links between VocalEyes and the Trust. 

Participants fed back the system would be invaluable to them to assist them with their community engagement efforts. Sarah Hoss, from VocalEyes, said:

'It's been an absolute pleasure to work with CRT on this - I'm so thrilled that here in Scotland it is the coalfields communities that are the first to pioneer in the use of this system to enhance decision-making and include more people in the crucial work of the Trust'. 

David Wright of CRT added: 'CRT are delighted to be able to furnish our ambassadors with such a powerful tool. It will be a tremendous asset to them in canvassing opinions and monitoring the progress of the projects taking place in their communities.’


Photo L-R: James Bruce (Lammermuir Community Transport), David Wright, Alex Downie (CRT), Sarah Hoss from VocalEyes, Clarke Steele (Watson Memorial Bowling Club), John Syme (Dumfries and Galloway Council).





Meet Up Forged Links posted on 20 Oct 2015
A conference call (using GoToMeeting software) was held on Oct 19th bringing together members of the A4D movement from all over the UK and Ireland. Chaired by Penny Cole, in Scotland, a 'get to know you' meeting was successfully hosted online which included interesting contributions from as far afield as London, County WIcklow, Oxford, Manchester, and a strong contingent of seven members of the Swansea Bay Assembly for Democracy. Those in attendance pledged to meet in person as soon as possible. 
Democracy for today posted on 17 Oct 2015

Not a movement of protest - but a movement of what we stand for is how Gerry Gold described the People’s Assemblies - which has gained some interest in mainstream media recently after the use of the term by the Labour Party. However the movement itself is not drawn up along party lines and encourages groups to come together with different ways of trying to achieve a more democratic society.

“We are challenging traditional party boundaries and opening up a more democratic space and atmosphere where we don’t ask the State for anything and instead focus on working together - aspiring to greater continuing development.” Gerry said.

Gerry reported that currently there are several emerging Assemblies for Democracy - Scotland, London, Manchester, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Swansea, Wicklow, North Wales, Oxford and Oban.

Swansea’s A4D is discussing the possibility of naming itself ‘Swansea Bay Assembly for Democracy’ to pull in a wider geographic reach.


Report: NewSplashMedia




What Price Food Security? posted on 17 Oct 2015

Swansea has a diverse local food supply instigated by the immigrant communities focused on the production of fresh. local food by independent growers/suppliers. However, many people rely on poor quality mass-produced food with the known impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

Clean water and fresh local food is what food security is about, said Geoff Thomas, a Swansea-based horticulturalist, in his brief presentation about food security to the Swansea Assembly for Democracy.

“Society often forgets we are totally dependent on plants to sustain ourselves” explained Geoff. “Our economy is built on plants!”

Geoff suggested that everyone in Swansea should be able to grow some food - even in a couple of grow-bags. “If you set up your own community garden and grow your own you will benefit from the higher quality of the food and learn a really vital skill. We could be self-sufficient in Wales if we grew more of our own food and produced and consumed less meat.”

Geoff also mentioned the CSA - Community Supported Agriculture movement that is helping people to self-fund local food production - Cae Tan and GowerPowerCoop are collaborating with the CSA to produce organic produce. Geoff’s also been involved in a project with Swansea University looking at vertical growing, which has is said to use much less resources in terms of land and water, than traditional horizontal methods.

Swansea is a hotbed of agricultural projects with many local communities already turning so-called brown field sites into green growing spaces and allotments. Geoff also highlighted the local groups involved in setting up green energy projects and animal husbandry such as Gower Power. Community Benefit Funds will also be arriving in Swansea where the energy produced will not only help the city to become more sustainable and also bring in money for the community. Such projects are the start of a movement that could see Swansea and many communities in Wales become excessive producers of quality local food and green energy in a ‘win win’ scenario.


Report: NewSplashMedia

Is it Chi Time? posted on 17 Oct 2015

Imagine a city centre shop where we exchange and share ideas and projects to help take Swansea to a more sustainable way of life where people can come together and not only prioritise some innovations but also tap into the expertise of fellow residents to create projects and businesses from feasible ideas.

That was the subject of the first A4D pitch from Peter Anderson in a short presentation he shared at the recent Swansea Assembly for Democracy meeting held at the Volcano Theatre on Swansea’s High St.

Peter reported that one of the ideas under the topic ‘How can we bring democracy to life?’ on the Swansea District VocalEyes group was for such a space to be established to help turn some of these conversations and ideas into tangible actions.

“We’re looking at creating a community innovation space for people in Swansea for groups, volunteers  and enthusiasts to make use of. It would be a shop front on the High Street where people could develop projects and business plans together and share knowledge”.

“We’ve been unofficially offered lots of different empty spaces in Swansea for this. I would like to see VocalEyes Digital Democracy used to underpin the consultation and decision-,making processes to help local groups progress their projects”.

The proposed Community Innovation Hub - (Chi anyone?) would house a 'productive and fertile space' for the innovation and incubation of new ideas and initiatives starting with the regeneration of Swansea’s High Street. Ideas will often start their journey on the digital platform VocalEyes and be identified as a priority allowing everyone to have a say.

The objective is to tap into the collective knowledge and wisdom of local people and empower them to implement projects that will increase the level of positive social, environmental and economic impact in the area. Projects would have access to an exhibition space and publicity. A public engagement space would be created allowing everyone to gain access to digital tools to increase the democratic nature of the decisions being mad

Several groups in Swansea have also expressed an initial interest in collaborating on this proposal. If you’d like to get involved, please contact Peter Anderson at peter.a@vocaleyes.org
Lobbying lessons posted on 17 Oct 2015

Did you know that 60 Syrian families will find safety in Swansea thanks to the campaigning and generosity of the people of Swansea? That heart-warming success story was shared by Dr Nada Hajar -  a 38 Degrees activist and local GP who has achieved tangible results from her lobbying activities. In an impassioned speech Nada explained how important lobbying is and he gave an engaging and interesting talk on how she’s achieved this success.

“It was a lobbying group that recruited the help of politicians to change government policy” Nada explained. “Four months ago 14 people from 38 degrees and the Green Party agreed to help with the plight of the Syrian refugees. At the start the UK wasn’t accepting Syrian refugees. Citizen UK set up a campaign to lobby for every district to agree to take in 50 families per city.In Swansea we were very active with a petition and we spoke at a Green Party rally. We met with all out local MPS and AMs and asked thern for support - even the Tory politicians agreed to do so.

“When they saw how many people were supporting us they changed their minds and now the council will be taking in 60 families - about 300 people fleeing the Syrian civil war.”

Nada’s talk demonstrated that with the courage of one’s convictions people can work together to do good things.






Democracy for today posted on 17 Oct 2015

Not a movement of protest - but a movement of what we stand for is how Gerry Gold described the People’s Assemblies - which has gained some interest in mainstream media recently after the use of the term by the Labour Party. However the movement itself is not drawn up along party lines and encourages groups to come together with different ways of trying to achieve a more democratic society.

“We are challenging traditional party boundaries and opening up a more democratic space and atmosphere where we don’t ask the State for anything and instead focus on working together - aspiring to greater continuing development.” Gerry said.

Gerry reported that currently there are several emerging Assemblies for Democracy - Scotland, London, Manchester, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Swansea, Wicklow, North Wales, Oxford and Oban.

Swansea’s A4D is discussing the possibility of naming itself ‘Swansea Bay Assembly for Democracy’ to pull in a wider geographic reach.
Latest updates to the system posted on 10 Oct 2015
  • Your own comments and replies can now be edited for 20 minutes
  • Split the Rating and Pledging carousels into two separate carousels
  • Improvements to title and description when sharing on Facebook
  • Slight improvements to the look of comment replies
  • Group header and logo images load speed improvement
  • Added Privacy Policy page, and Facebook and twitter links to the bottom menu

*** Group Admin changes ***

  • Filter by item status / publishing options in all content / member lists using a simple drop-down
  • Excel report:
    • Separated Active from Archived topics
    • Topic status is now shown on top
    • Declines are excluded from rating counts
  • When creating a group, accented characters are now properly transformed into their non-accented latin equivalents when auto-creating (as you type) the group's URL Alias
...AND...

- Many many bug fixes!
Welcome back! posted on 23 Sep 2015

Canturbury College HE department is a new user of VocalEyes. A big welcome back to all our returning students this week and a special welcome to our new students.  I hope you are all looking forward to a productive and rewarding semester.

A big thank you to all of you who attended the Induction Week.  It was a challenge at some sessions to fit you all in, but I hope you found the week useful.  Induction Week is now listed as a topic on VocalEyes and I welcome all your ideas on how we could improve your experience.

Your tutors will have the opportunity of booking additional sessions around Resources, Meet the Geeks and in particular Study Skills over the academic year.  In particular, we will be delivering Study Skills sessions during the first half of this term.  This session will review what was delivered in Induction Week but will go into more detail and where possible will be course specific.  You will hear more about this from your tutors shortly.

So I will sign off by wishing you a successful and rewarding semester and I look forward to viewing your ideas and comments on VocalEyes.

Canterbury College Go Digital! posted on 17 Sep 2015
Canterbury College adopt a new digital system, 'VocalEyes Digital Democracy' which will better capture learner voice and encourage students to participate in generating ideas to improve their college. Rate, comment, debate and add ideas under associated topics.    
Tiers cross community solar fund launch event posted on 16 Sep 2015
We're very excited to announce the date for the launch of the Tiers Cross Community Solar Fund!  We will be holding an open event on 9 October for residents and interested parties to hear more about the fund and start to gather ideas on what the money should be spent on.


Garw Valley Digital Leaflets posted on 11 Sep 2015



In response to a suggested idea for the Bro Garw, which is to create a digital, downloadable leaflet to promote the Garw Valley, we have been researching existing sources. We have therefore found a few different links for downloadable PDF leaflets that already exist, which all promote and advertise the Garw, local walks, and areas of particular interest.


So, here are the links to the promotional leaflets we have found:

http://www.gvcc.org.uk/Garw-Valley-Community-Council/UserFiles/Files/garw_valley_walk_1.pdf


http://www.love2walk.co.uk/love2walk/downloads.aspx - Features basic walks in Pontycymer, Llangeinor, Blaengarw, etc, with images.




We also found this website about valleys around South Wales, which has a lot of information about the Garw. It also highlights some main areas to explore:

http://www.thevalleys.co.uk/explore/explore-the-valleys/garw


What do you think of these links? Do you believe that they are helpful in promoting the Garw Valley as a great place for visitors and potential tourists? Or, is there anything else you feel would need to be added?
How To Use VocalEyes to Make The Most Out of the Bro Garw! posted on 21 Aug 2015


In order to help you utilise VocalEyes, and make the most out of the Bro Garw on this system, we have created a YouTube video to instruct you properly! If you don't quite understand how to join VocalEyes, and use it fully, this video will let you know in detail.

We explain both the Bro Garw and VocalEyes in simple terms, with the basic steps to join. We also let you know how to submit ideas, rate, and comment successfully. 

Check out our video - and YouTube channel! - here to watch it all and learn more: https://youtu.be/sD2BFP3na6E
Len McCluskey Unite posted on 18 Aug 2015
Len addressing the People's Assembley Rally Sat 20 June, 2015
Swansea to host Assembly for Democracy event posted on 1 Aug 2015

Please come along to the planning group for the first Assembly for Democracy in Swansea. We need your help.

There are a host of organisations and thousands of people actively demanding and working for democratic change in the UK. Many are inspired by movements for democracy globally.

Among them are OpenDemocracy, the Democratic Reform Party and Occupy Democracy. Many people argue that grassroots democracy is the answer to some of the big issues of our time.

more info.. http://assembliesfordemocracy.org/swansea-programme/

Join us by registering here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/wales-assembly-for-democracy-planning-event-registration-17616990894?aff...

Initial training and meetings have started posted on 29 Jul 2015

The Coalfield Regeneration Trust Scotland have successfully started using VocalEyes.

We have set up a strategy group to ensure progress of the project.

We are being trained (via Skype) by the VocalEyes team in Wales.


Exciting Developments for Our Micro-Hydro Scheme! posted on 10 Jul 2015


We have a brief update about our impending micro-hydro project for the River Garw, with some exciting developments to come!

The micro-hydro scheme is still currently the top rated idea of all of our top community-benefit ideas on VocalEyes, so we have been looking into how we can go about implementing this. We have been having important discussions with various people to gain essential support and funding, and have a good idea of ways to further the project and make it a future reality.

Many of our plans and developments are currently confidential, but we will update you as much as we can as we move forward. This is just an update to let you know that plans are currently in motion, and we're excited about the progress with this project!


You can see the top idea for the micro-hydro scheme on VocalEyes here: http://vocaleyes.org/vocaleyes/idea/view/id/3446/grp/10459/feed/rated

However, keep adding your own good ideas and rating your favourites today! We are committed to making beneficial change for all in our Garw Valley community.
Bro Garw Has Been Featured on Me & My Community! posted on 3 Jul 2015


This week, the Bro Garw Heritage Regeneration Trust has been lucky enough to be featured on Me & My Community! 

Me & My Community is an online network that covers social enterprises and community interest companies across the UK, highlighting all organisations that work for the benefit of local communities, as well as on a national scale. Our Bro Garw works for the benefit of all in the Garw Valley, seeking to regenerate the area by developing good ideas from local people, and making them a reality.


Check out the article here all about our Trust: http://meandmycommunity.co.uk/blog/spotlight-on-the-bro-garw-heritage-regeneration-trust

And join Me & My Community (for free!) to find out more about the great social enterprises, community interest companies and charities benefitting local people all across the UK: http://meandmycommunity.co.uk
Top Idea: Micro-Hydro Update! posted on 29 May 2015

We are very excited to announce that we have in discussions about all of the current top ideas. There are a team of people very eager to get your good ideas up and running! 

The top idea right now is the micro-hydro scheme proposal, to work from the River Garw, utilising the natural flow of the water. A micro-hydro scheme is basically a renewable energy scheme, which will create hydroelectric power that produces electricity. This generated electricity can therefore be used to power homes and businesses in the Garw – benefitting us all!

 

These micro-hydro installations have been used successfully in many parts of the world, as well as here in the UK. They are also particularly popular in Scotland, as they have great countryside with fantastic rivers to make the most of.

 

We agree that installing a micro-hydro scheme would be an asset to the Garw Valley, and would benefit our town both economically and financially. This is why we have been looking into the idea, and think that it can be done. 

There are many ways to go about this – and one idea is that the scheme could even become community-owned, meaning you would have the opportunity to purchase your own share of the installation. This has worked well in other areas, as this ensures that our renewable energy is generated in our community and stays in our community, for the benefit of all locals.

 

We are in the early stages of planning currently, but we just wanted to update you about our progress so far! What do you think of this idea, and do you have any thoughts about how this could be achieved?

If you haven’t already – rate the idea and add your own discussion here! Alternatively, vote for another idea – or suggest others - here, and thank you for your input!