Work and Experience

Freelance Communications Facilitator and Community Engagement Consultant (2016-2017)

  • provided services to Silloth-on-Solway for their Cumbria in Bloom and Britain in Bloom Campaigns
  • submitted Silloth in Bloom and Britain in Bloom entries on behalf of Silloth Town Council and the local community
  • set up Silloth’s display stand for Cumbria in Bloom at Holker Hall Garden Festival (winning gold award)
  • photographed ‘in bloom’ developments in Silloth
  • set up the ‘Silloth in Bloom’ website (https://sillothinbloom.wordpress.com) and added content
  • organised presentation and tour of local developments for Cumbria in Bloom judges matching judging criteria to developments
  • liaised with volunteers gathering relevant information for the judges portfolio
  • compiled Britain in Bloom judges portfolio matching RHS development criteria to local developments in Silloth (http://bit.ly/2qoOZxt)
  • organised information pop-ups and gave a presentation to Britain in Bloom judges, illustrating the extent to which local developments matched their judging criteria
  • organised Britain in Bloom judges route again matching developments to judging criteria
  • accompanied Britain in Bloom judges on their tour, highlighting where the efforts by volunteers matched their criteria

Cumbria in Bloom Awards for Silloth (2016) included:

  • Gold Award – Coastal Resort Trophy
  • Allerdale Trophy for ‘Best in Borough’
  • Rickerby Ltd Trophy, as ‘Best Overall Town and Urban Community’
  • Amberol Trophy for ‘Best Sustainable Development Town’
  • Runner Up in ‘Special Category for Continental landscapes’ (Discovery centre Garden)
  • Runner up for the Cumbria Tourism Rose Bowl awarded to ‘Self Catering Establishments and Visitor Attractions’ (Silloth Golf Course)
  • The Silloth Green Community Garden and Heritage Rose and Bee garden were individual winners of the RoyalHorticulturalSociety’s’It’sYour Neighbourhood’ Awards, each gaining a level 5 ‘Outstanding Result’
  • The Heritage Rose and Bee Garden volunteer received a Community Champion Award for ‘Outstanding contribution to Cumbria in Bloom’

Britain in Bloom Awards for Silloth (2016) included:

  • Silver Gilt Award in the Coastal Town (up to 12K) Category
  • Community Champion Award for Silloth-in-Bloom Chairperson

Ongoing Development of Silloth Airfield Website

  •  researched heritage information and added content to the Silloth Airfield website
  • presented information about the Heritage of Silloth Airfield to Cockermouth Civic Group

Neighbourhood Planning (2017)

  • provided services to Eden Town Council in relation to their Local Neighbourhood Plan
  • provided an engagement and consultation plan
  • provided marketing material/poster

Community Engagement, Silloth Green (2012-2016)

From 2012 – 2016 – involved in a £1.3 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) project to refurbish and develop use of Silloth Green. Over that period of time, I worked closely with Silloth Town Council (STC) and local volunteers Friends of the Green and Silloth Tourism Action Group (STAG) to.

  • organise a celebration event to celebrate the opening of the Green after refurbishment
  • to bid for funds and develop new projects and events on the Green and in the town
  • develop and deliver the volunteer, education and training plans, working closely with HLF, Silloth Town Council, volunteers and the local community
  • manage public consultation related to the delivery of the BMX Track and the Community Garden
  • work closely with the Town Council and a local gardening expert to develop a new environmentally Bee Garden
  • commission and provide content for signage for Silloth Green
  • commission and provide content for heritage interpretation panels
  • create an online heritage database tracing the history and heritage of Silloth-on-Solway
  • work with the community to archive community memories
  • develop links with new partners
  • create a suitable architecture for a dedicated Website for Silloth Green and add content
  • develop social media tools for Silloth Green
  • design interpretation panels for the heritage Pagoda
  • commission interpretation panels for the Heritage Rose and Bee Garden and co-ordinate content (working with Bee Garden Expert and suppliers)
  • create promotional leaflet for Silloth Green
  • create an online Education Newsletter and add educational content for distribution via the Schools Portal to 376 schools and educational establishments in Cumbria
  • liase with tourism organisations and others to market Silloth Green and events
  • organise ‘Cumbria in Bloom‘ and Britain in Bloom bids, presentations and tours
  • regularly report on the Project to Silloth Town Council and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) monitors over time
  • write a final evaluation for the Green project for HLF

Project Manager – Silloth Airfield Project (2014-2015)

  • Liaised with Cumbria Museums Consortium and Silloth Tourism Action Group (STAG) and wrote a successful bid for Heritage Lottery Funds to support a project about Silloth Aerodrome, its development and use as a WW2 Maintenance Unit and Operational Training Unit
  • Managed project on behalf of STAG, including actions, timescale, budget, outcomes
  • Liaised with other Aviation Museums in Cumbria to learn from their experiences
  • Researched the history of Silloth Airfield and collected historical information and artefacts to preserve the heritage of the airfield for future generations.
  • Interviewed and filmed former workers and members of the local community
  • organised a school drama, which was scripted and acted by young people drawing on real stories
  • commissioned a digital simulator (to land a WW2 Spitfire on Runway 15 Silloth Airfield)
  • diorama (large model illustrating the layout of the airfield during WW2)
  • organised a celebratory event and exhibition of airfield artefacts loaned by local people and airfield museums
  • created a leaflet about the airfield and its heritage
  • created a website (https://sillothairfield.wordpress.com/), covering the development and use of the airfield during the War Years and capturing stories told by the men and women who worked, served and were trained there, also stories told by people who lived in the local community during WW2
  • wrote a film script based on research material, commissioned local volunteer actor for voice-over, sourced local sound studio and commissioned film editor for the production of a 20 minute documentary film about Silloth Airfield. The film was shown to the local community and is available on YouTube and the Airfield website (http://bit.ly/1fV5PdT)
  • managed and balanced the Airfield project budget
  • monitored and evaluated the project
  • wrote the final evaluation for HLF

Consultation Officer (2006-2012) Local Government

  • I worked with Eden District Council for 6 years expanding consultation and community engagement approaches. I used social media to help me run a youth consultation about a local economic development with long term signficance for the area. Working with Steve Thompson, who also worked at the time with the Digital Innovation Unit, Teesside University, I set up a website called ‘Eden Media’ and put together a few short youth engagement videos, so that Councillors could listen to what some young people felt about developments in the area. I was also involved in initiatives with Cumbria County Council, the other District authorities in Cumbria, local Parishes, communities and schools. To pilot new ways of engaging and consulting local people online, I worked with Delib, who installed their Consultation Finder database on the Eden District Council website. Then began a process of culture change, where Council officers and Councillors wee encouraged to adapt to new procedures and more democratic participation. Afterwards, the system was re-designed to fit with a county wide approach and a Cumbria ‘Consultation Hub‘  was rolled out to local councils and organisations by Cumbria County Council  I then developed a ‘toolkit’ to support implementation of the Eden District Council Consultation and public engagement strategy, as well as a ‘Have your Say’ section on the council’s web-site. In addition, I spearheaded a new training section for staff and councillors.

Itech-Research, Dublin. Senior Research Consultant. (2002-2004).

  • I worked collaboratively with Susan O’Donell, then of Irish partners, Itech Research, on a research project, eInclusion: Expanding the Information Society in Ireland,  for the Department of the Taoiseach (the Irish Government), to provide them with advice on the issues at public policy level that needed to be addressed to ensure an inclusive information society in Ireland. Our work led to the development of a series of recommendations to the Irish Government. The approach to the study was based on the idea that citizens from all demographic groups in diverse communities should have opportunity to participate using information and communication technologies (ICTs). Interviews were an important element of the research and the team heard from or discussed priorities for an inclusive information society with more than 60 people from Government departments and agencies, public authorities and bodies working at national, regional and local levels, also community and voluntary sector organisations, social partners and others.

International Teledemocracy Centre (ITC), Edinburgh. Research Associate. (2000-2002).

  • Working as a researcher with the ITC, I was involved in organising action research and evaluations of ICT designed to support e-democracy. The remit was also to widen understanding of the societal significance of ICT and implications for democratic practice; developing higher level insights into mechanisms that need to be built into management procedures for e-democracy; researching best practice for delivery of e-government public services; presenting research findings at international conferences; writing reports and peer reviewed academic publications; and writing a variety of proposals for new funding to support human centred approaches to e-democracy research.
  • While working with the ITC, I was lead researcher in an evaluation of ‘e-Petitioner,’ an innovative electronic petitioning system set up by Napier University and British Telecom in collaboration with the Scottish Parliament, to stimulate and support electronic participation, and allow ordinary people to petition the Parliament on-line. Funded by Joseph Rowntree, the deliverables of the project included a framework for the management and delivery of electronic petitioning services and an evaluation report on the uptake and use of electronic petitioning. An important part of the research was not only to outline management procedures but also to gather the views of people in local communities and assess their perceptions. The study interpreted various different views and opinions about e-petitioner and noted thoughts on new opportunities to use technology to interact in a more participatory way with the Scottish Parliament. Such information fed into on-going development and helped to improve the electronic system. Following dissemination of the final report, the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament invited a more thorough integration of e-petitioner with their work. Thereafter, steps were taken to re-brand and merge the e-petitioning system into the Scottish Parliament’s official web-site. It is now a central ‘in-house’ tool supporting the Public Petitions Committee.

National Grid for Learning (NGfL), Scotland. Consultant (2002-2004).

  • Building case studies and working collaboratively on NGfLScotland communities initiatives and training modules to build knowledge of e-democracy and civic participation.

Honorary Research Fellow (2005 – 2012)

  • I was an Hon. Research Fellow with the University of Dundee. I helped strengthen collaborations in research, practice, learning and writing in the area of ICT enabled community education and community development.

Ph.D – Community Development in Cyberspace (2001)

  • While writing my doctoral thesis, I studied the background, development, use and significance of a local electronic community network, set up primarily to help regenerate a deprived neighbourhood in Edinburgh, Scotland. Key aims were to critically assess the community network’s relationship with community development practice as well as perceptions of its social, cultural, political and economic significance for the community and broader society. Reviews of policy, reports and other literature helped to weave contextual, conceptual and theoretical frameworks to assist in the research and the analysis. The field research consisted of qualitative interviews with key players and observations of development and use. The analysis of field data highlighted the similarities and differences in the viewpoints of different people and groups in relation to network use and community development.

Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN) 

  • I am aligned with Community Informatics (CI), a paradigm or way of thinking that is centrally concerned with the application of ICTs in community practice, learning and research. CI is associated with strategies and techniques for managing community use and application of ICTs to benefit local communities.  In academic terms CI draws from multi-disciplinary fields, helps connect theory and practice and is linked to community development, local economic development, adult learning, life-long education, health informatics, community service delivery and community action. CI recognises that different local communities require tailored approaches to build social and human capital and improve routine daily lives. In addition, CI supports innovative action to strengthen culture and identity, facilitate civic empowerment, and support local economic development. CI also fosters connections and stimulates partnerships between ICT practitioners, academic researchers, social entrepreneurs and other groups who have an interest in designing community based technologies to enable community action and promote community change for the better.

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Freelance Communications Facilitator & Community Engagement Consultant

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