With an excellent turnout and a full room; buzzing with energy we started with an update from Ingrid about the Speakout project of providing advocacy services for people with learning difficulties. They are work with a photographer who has worked with Photo Voice and helps people communicate their messages with photo stories.
Bert updated us about Brighton Untold, a project to put QR codes around the city, which tell about the black and ethnic history of the city. His project is moving slowly and steadily forward with a steering group, lots of volunteers, and a volunteer to coordinate the volunteers. They have help from the museum including access to the museum’s database.
The digital inclusion project has been waiting for a meeting between CityCamp and the Charity and Voluntary Sector Forum which will happen later this month, and then, hopefully this project will be able to move forward fast.
Anthony told the meeting about half a day of social media training that he did with Mosaic. It was successful and has given them lots of ideas and opportunities to think about.
House of Games is a project with lots of ideas and energy. They have a website up and running. They need help from the CityCamp network deciding what the currency should be for the badges? There are more details in this blog post from Catherine.
Last year’s winner, My Urban Angel is making progress. The plan is to test the app with students starting university in the autumn and they are working on a pilot/ testing plan. Alongside they are working on a physical infrastructure with a network of safe spaces that people who are using the app can go to. They are also investigating more funding opportunities to develop the app further.
Anthony provided an update on the CityCamp prize fund. £13500 has been allocated for cash prizes and rest is for support that will be commissioned centrally such as web design. Anything not spent will go back into the prize pot for next year. We would like to get more people involved in the running CityCamp next year and also thinking about what we should do for CityCamp 2.5 in the autumn. The digital zone at People’s Day on 14th July would also be an opportunity to for CityCamp and many of the projects to show what they have been doing and get volunteers, input, testing etc. This will be a topic for discussion at the June meetup
This year’s winner, Gig Buddies is fundraising to pay for a project worker and have raised some match funding. They have their first volunteer: someone who was looking to go out more but had no one to go with and went to her first gig last week. Paul is hoping to get up to 12 volunteers by the end of the year. His vision for Gig Buddies is about making people aware of what there is out there. It is not about saying that people have to go to gigs but it is about helping people to find out what is going on, make informed choices and have fun. He is also hoping to get help with technology development from ‘Good For Nothing’ who are planning a one day hacking camp in Brighton in the summer.
At the last meeting CityCamp decided to think about a challenge that is facing the city and this month it is financial exclusion. We were joined by Valerie Pearce and Paul Sweeting from Brighton and Hove Council and Nathan Au from FareShare
Later this year changes will start happening to the benefit system and changes will continue up to 2017. People who are on benefits are going to see changes to the amount of money they get and the payment system is going to change. There will be one benefit: Universal Credit and this will be paid and accessed online. All benefits are getting tighter and narrower and benefits will be capped for people out of work. Money will also be paid to households rather than individuals. And example of the changes is that disability living allowance is being reduced by a third so in Brighton and Hove 12000 people are currently receiving incapacity benefit and 4000 of those will no longer get it under the new system.
There are many issues with these changes for example nationally only 17% of those able to claim universal credit can get online but the business case is that 80% of people will do. These are people who are used to seeing someone face to face or speaking to someone on the phone but not used to dealing with things online. How do we provide the necessary skills to the people who are entitled to benefits to get online?
It is anticipated that this will have a big impact on organisations working in this area with a lot of people asking for help and not much that can be done to help them. These reductions are affecting the most vulnerable people and the services are overstretched and facing cuts at a time when people are going to need more support than ever. Whenever a system changes there are always a number of practical issues and number of people go into battle with the state about what they are entitled to.
Nathan Au told us about the work that Fareshare Brighton do to collect food that can be legally passed on and give it to their partner projects such as Clocktower Sanctuary and the Brighton Unemployed Centre. There are two food banks in the city but there is enough demand for one in each ward. But he did highlight that the city is particularly good at finding new uses for things that others don’t want with projects such as Magpie. But they need more food companies to donate. Some such as Forfars, Sainsburys, M&S and Pret a Manger work with them. After a food drive with Sainsbury’s in Brighton Fareshare collected seven tonnes of unwanted food. If all four of the big supermarket chains did this we could solve food poverty in the city. But we need to persuade other companies to make unwanted food donation part of their supply process. For example the bakery chain Forfars returns all unsold bread to its bakery and Fareshare collect it. (After the meeting we were tweeted by Brighton Food Festival to say they work with Fareshare.)
How could a network like CityCamp help?
- Get good news stories out about those companies who are donating waste food, to encourage others to help.
- Highlight what food poverty means for example if you are in poverty for example how much a tin of beans or basic shop costs (as a % of income.)
- Get people to donate food (for example to donate the free one of buy one Get one free offers or encourage people to join up and share buy one give one free offers)
- Get networks of people who could support each other. Peer support has been used successfully in lots of areas and cooperatives can help.
- Often those most in need of support don’t think of themselves as needing help, or see themselves as vulnerable. How do we get isolated people linked to services?
- A central collection point or a network of volunteer that could collect leftover food from smaller or/and independent retailers (Fareshare said that their warehouses in Moulsecoomb are open from 8am to 8pm. And willing to take donations at those times.)
- We need to think how to get knowledge and support to people and join up the traditional solutions and the innovative/practical solutions. Debt help services are shrinking but we need to be able to raise awareness of practical choices, for example by finding a way of linking the reuse/practical agenda to the support agenda.
- Could we create a knowledge badge for the House of Games and if so what knowledge would be needed? How can we help and uncover the expertise and create access points?
Thursday 21st June from 7pm at Hove Kitchen