Creative innovation and a hack: an event to help a charity in Durham raise their profile


I am really excited to be running a creative hack on 22 February next year for a local charity up here in County Durham. I’ve run a few hacks in my time and really like the energy, the chance it gives people to innovate and take risks, the opportunity to work with and definitely learn from different people, and, most importantly, the chance to collaborate for good.

I’ve spoken before about how traditional networking isn’t really my bag, so running a hack is perfect for me. This is definitely a much better way of spending my time.

I’m looking for local businesses and creative people to get involved so I’m on the scrounge. I’m doing this on a pro-bono basis, as is everyone else who has volunteered their time. But I’d like more of you there. The more people who come, the more good we can do for a really good cause.

So why come?

Willow Burn is a hospice in Lanchester, County Durham. The hospice treasures the lives of people whose illnesses are no longer curable, enabling them to achieve the best quality of life, at the worst time of their life. Willow Burn provide a friendly and supportive environment in which everyone feels welcome. A hospice is not just about death. Willow Burn Hospice is proof of this. Typically, people come to Willow Burn for end of life care, respite care and day hospice services when they have limiting illnesses. The hospice also has a family support team so that before and after death, family and friends have someone to turn to for comfort.

But they obviously need more money to do this really important work, and want more people to hear about them and the work they do.

The business challenge for this hack will be to help Willow Burn raise their profile across Durham.

So, what’s a hack?

Simply put, it is a fast paced event that challenges attendees to make and do; usually working on  something to help improve people’s lives. Hacks are a chance to innovate, experiment and collaborate and create something that solves a problem, delivering outcomes in a non-typical way. It’s not just about doing business as usual, it’s about making something quicker, or easier or stand out more.

Importantly, it’s not an ideas generator but a chance to design, build, develop or write something with like-minded skilled and experienced professionals, and it’s definitely not a seminar, conference or talking shop.

DWP Digital recently held a hack in Manchester which aimed to identify and address the barriers to people applying for jobs, and develop an innovative solution to encourage people to retrain and travel to where the work is. One of my favourite hacks was one I ran in London for a local authority, which aimed to help more older people get online; it was a particularly rewarding event because it had a community focus, with older people from the community there to contribute on the day.

Please get involved

We are looking for graphic designers, web developers, local businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, photographers, marketing people, digital experts, charity workers and creatives from across the North to collaborate on developing new and innovative solutions to support Willow Burn.

Already signed up is Lancaster University’s Entrepreneur in residence and brand and innovation expert and Northern Power Women ambassador, Jane Dalton, from Groundswell Innovation, and more contributors will be announced over the coming weeks.

It’s a great opportunity to network, learn from industry experts and enjoy yourself, while contributing to a really good cause. If you can’t make the whole day, don’t want to come to the North East (you’re missing out!) or just can’t make it, but still want to help, please get in touch. You can follow the event on Twitter at #HelpTheHospice

Find out more about the logistics and all the organisational bits including how to sign up on the Hospice Hack page.