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“Come The Revolution” – Gov Camp Cymru 2017

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I’m a citizen first!

 

I just to clarify that I went there, not necessarily as a representative of Amgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Wales, but as a citizen and keen blogger with an interest in the public sector and citizen participation. On the other hand, it would be absurd to think that I wouldn’t be networking with people involved in the heritage sector! Heritage is for everyone!

Session 1) NHS Hack Day

Annemarie Cunningham, a GP based in Gelligaer, but originally from County Down in Northern Ireland led the session. She informed us that NHS Hack Day organisers plan to have an event in Cardiff in January 2018. Her question was, “how do we get more people involved in the event?”

Here are a few points that I took from the session:

Session 2) Reducing Impact of Welfare Reform in Wales

Though the numbers were small for this session, it gave Gareth Morgan (Benefits Information and Advice Specialist) a perfect focus group full of “key players” who are interested in the Welfare Reform; what I mean by that is they want to support people who have been subjugated by the government’s introduction to the dreaded Universal Credit and government cuts!

We had Emma from Trivallis and a Trustee at Shelter Cymru; Annemarie, a GP (from 1st session) who feels obligated to help her patients – the impact from stress alone has a devastating effect on a person’s physical and mental health; Sarah from Tai Pawb’s Open Doors Project would be aware of concerns from private tenants; James from a housing organisation and who was in tune with housing policy; and then there was me, formerly of the national voice of tenants in Wales – Tenantiaid Cymru – Welsh Tenants.

1) The money comes directly from Westminster and not from the main pot in Wales. However, some work argue that this strengthens the leash around the corgi’s neck (and I’m not talking about the ones that live in Buckingham palace!).

2) The money would make a positive impact for the local economy as people have the tendency to spend locally, which supporting local companies and start-ups.

Even though I’m all for local investment I don’t think that those who claim would perceive it as simply supporting local businesses. They’ll see it as having no other choice! They won’t be able to afford to go anywhere else due to their inability to affordable transport and other barriers that relate to the rising costs that continue to crash against the cuts to their income.

 

Session 3) Universal Basic Income – Should we be thinking about it?

The principles of Universal Basic Income* were covered at the beginning of the session, led by Neil Tamplin, to inform attendees of what were its objectives and potential if it were distributed.

Trials have already taken place in Glasgow and other localities across the globe. However, they’re on a small scale and come with a number of conditions that may not take social factors into consideration. Research is still in its infant stages. Therefore, it’s ideal to have a discussion with such a diverse group of people who have the expertise or a basic interest on this matter. Here are some of the points from the session:

Do Housing Professionals Want A Revolution?

The group noticed a few representatives from the housing sector including Neil, who works in housing and who pitched this session, which got people (humorously) asking if the housing sector in Wales would be formulating a coup that would flip the coin on capitalism, so it would land on social reformation, or as Gwenda puts it – “come the revolution.” I commented by saying that the role of housing associations has changed tremendously over the years, especially in Wales. As less and less councils own units and have less resources to provide services it has meant that HAs have taken on more responsibility, which pressurizes social landlords to become more social in their community. I do like Gwenda’s push for change though. Maybe she’s right? The revolution starts at home!

Session 4) Heritage Has Gone Digital

Because I would be attending a “design charrette” the following week (blog coming soon!) that will explore the industrial heritage of my hometown, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to get an insight into the digital aspect of the heritage sector, and how it could be beneficial for Merthyr Tydfil’s heritage now and in future.

Illtud Daniel from the National Library of Wales*, outlined the objectives of the session as he wanted to know “What can Welsh heritage organisations supply to you to be more relevant to people of Wales and fulfil the social need (preferably from a digital aspect)?”

The group had the perfect brains to prod from both a heritage and digital marketing point of view including Wyn Williams of Dai Lingual (who provided the event’s bilingual translation); Huw Marshall, an expert of marketing bilingual digital content and who runs social media’s “yr awr Gymraeg” (the Welsh language hour); Dafydd James, Head of Digital Media at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales*; and a staff representative from Cardiff People First who spoke about the engagement of service users in regards to digital heritage including their work on the “museum takeover day” and with the Ely hospital project held at the Cardiff Story Museum; and other individuals with a digital or heritage background.

Here were some of the interesting points made during the session:

  1. Prioritise digital inclusion, which would mean getting the public involved in using digital heritage to build a story. I don’t want to poke holes in anyone’s umbrella but isn’t Casgliadau y Werin Cymru – People’s Collection Wales tasked with this? (it’s a cooperative project coordinated by both AC-NMW and NLW)
  2. Couldn’t the NLW take advantage of Wales’ industrial heritage? Genealogy and DNA testing features on such programmes as “Who do you think you are?” which has been successful in promoting the subject and encouraging people to do family research. Could this help to market the collections better? Many people here and overseas including America have roots buried in the landscape. The NLW should now be opening its fortress of digital archives to the family historian or genealogy hobbyist (like myself).
  3. For a different perspective other than NWLs digital platform, the group discussed of others that could be relevant to the heritage sector including HWB meaning hub creates a safe online learning experience for children in schools when examining archival material; Unsplash, a digital platform which caters mainly for graphic designers by providing high resolution images is something that NLW could possibly tap into; Hacio’r iaith, a bilingual digital platform which has built up a community that “explores how technology applies to and through the Welsh language.[ii]” These discussions proved useful; it was proposed that another organisation/ company could be responsible to deal with the marketing and take over the NLW’s digital platform – this got Illtud’s wheels turning.
  4. Illtud highlighted the volunteers supporting the transference of hardcopy archives onto their digital database. Maybe appointing volunteer digital champions would help to connect NLW and the digital community?
  5. Angharad from YLab made a great point when she said that “nostalgia is a powerful tool” and that NLW should start with this. Illtud highlighted the work that the NLW has done with the BBC on the project supporting people with dementia connected to memory-loss in bringing memories alive.

As the unconference came to a close the volunteers, the organisers, the sponsors and supporters were all thanked, which included those who attended, like myself, because an unconference can’t go ahead without any people “to conference” it (if that makes sense). Perhaps an unconference for the public sector would now be more associated with an out of chaos comes order reference, as the ongoing cuts and struggle would reflect a need for change. Again, I’m reminded of Gwenda’s push for a revolution! Viva Catalunya! Annibyniaeth i Gymru!

Image Courtesy of Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – National Library of Wales. “Dog with a pipe in its mouth “(c.1940s) by P B Abery.

[i] Howells, J.D. (Oct 2016) EEE – The brand new approach to supporting communities. https://merthyrranter.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/eee-the-brand-new-approach-to-supporting-communities/

[ii] Hacio’r Iaith (sourced Oct 2017) https://haciaith.com/

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