Monday, 8 November 2010

The Big Society in Action?

logoFollowing on from our recent article taking a look at the NHS Organ Donation Social Media Camapaign, it was great to read that a further 500 people have signed up, thanks to the efforts of Kidney Research UK. This came about as a result of a unique project ran in North West London, aiming to raise awareness of the greater need for organs by those of a black or South Asian origin, due to a higher risk of contracting diabetes.

The project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG), a non-departmental public body which is responsible for delivering about half of all funds raised by the National Lottery for good causes. According to Sir Clive Booth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, “BIG has invested over £80 million into medical and social research to enable organisations to produce and disseminate evidence-based knowledge, to influence local and national policy and practice, and develop better services and interventions."

Despite the sign ups not being the goal of the project and actually being an unforeseen benefit, this is a great example of how interconnected public health is. An intervention in one aspect can lead to positives elsewhere, highlighting how cohesion and coordination between the Third Sector and the NHS, not to mention business and the Public, could be so important in maximising outcomes. Whether or not the Coalitions Governments Big Society agenda is sincere or entirely achievable, this is the main reasoning behind it and no matter your opinion of the agenda, does seem to make sense.

The project is going to be rolled out beyond North West London via government funding, though the article doesn't say how far a field this will be. It would be good to see collaboration between Kidney Research UK and the NHS Organ Donation campaign to exploit and adapt the project for their Social Media platforms, as well as other media. Although the project has a basis in 'face to face' communications, Social Media perhaps provides the next best thing and can have a national reach with very little cost.

As mentioned in the previous article on the Donor campaign, good causes can work extremely well with the viral nature of Social Media. With about 14% of all those needing kidney donations in the UK being from a black or South Asian background, it's a big problem that needs as much support as possible. Looking to utilise how effectively a message can be spread on such platforms would be a great help and would be all the  more effective should pages work together. Cross pollination, as it were, between organisation's profiles would not only allow their fan-bases to be targeted en masse, but also give greater scope to segment future fan targets, delivering each other's or joint messages where appropriate.

There could also be another benefit. If sectors are to have a greater partnership in the future, the cost effective and social nature or facebook, twitter, et al, could make Social Media a very useful platform in which to get to know each other and to start testing the waters in working more closely together. It is obviously already established as a place to make friends, but has also made business practices more visible, with it's credo of honesty, openness and transparency, so could even assist in reducing the impact of the traditional cultural differences between sectors, by offering insight into those cultures.

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