Technology can give us a whole heap of headaches these days but when it works the effects and impact can be AMAZING! When you see how young people and people who may have had a difficult time of it, respond to that technology, it really is inspiring. Our screen has been running daily in the day centre for the past month. This week we used the brilliant IPhoto slideshow programme to put together engaging slideshows of images created by the young people. They had first hand experience of the principles behind media creation; choosing images, adapting them as they felt was necessary, finding appropriate music and seeing how music can change the feel and impact of the images, adding text and choosing a good overall style. All these decisions can be hard to focus on, especially when your experience of school and work has not been great. Technology and the instant results that it provides is a brilliant way to engage people and show how they're work is meaningful and worth something. After working hard on their projects we were able to upload them to the digital signage software, head to the large screen in the activity room and see the slideshows on the big screen. In 2 hours young homeless people had effectively created short movies to be viewed by all visitors to our busy day centre. Well done guys!
Well we've been pretty busy over the past couple of months. James our new super helpful volunteer has been busy creating and scheduling content. We now have a weekly time table of events displayed on the screen, telling everyone whats happening in the building. Each week in the Tbase youth group, young people are creating engaging posters that advertise events. This helps keep the content fresh and genuinely user generated. The young people are able to see their work appear instantly on the screen and displayed throughout the week for everyone to see.
It has created a bit of a buzz to say the least! Just this morning an older gentleman who has been following the progress of the screen asked how it all worked. I was able to sit with him at one of the PC's and help him create a simple image using the graphic design element built in to the signage software. We're using digitalsignage.net by Dynamax which provides a very simple, user friendly dashboard, accessible on any computer as it is internet based. The gentleman was amazed that he could create the image, press a button and within seconds it appeared on the large 55" screen on the wall behind him! Not only that the screen has a twitter feed so we were able to tweet a couple of messages too.
Finally after a number of techie headaches (namely the twitter feed refusing to update!) we have a genuinely interactive tool in our day centre. This has got our minds whirring! Why stop there? A screen can be used for a ton of different reasons. Clients seem to really like seeing photos of themselves on the screen. So next week we're planning to have a digital photo morning, with the results instantly uploaded to the screen. Watch this space...!
Manu was checking out the weather forecast on the screen last week when other clients began asking him what it was going to be like over the next few days. He took great pleasure in becoming the weatherman and presenting the forecast to to the daycentre! Our new twitter feed address for everything sent to the screen is @connectscreen. Please share and follow!
This is the first glimpse of the Day Centre digital signage screen in action. There has been many technical difficulties along the way but finally we have something in working order! We had to research many digital signage products and needed one that was ultimately very simple to use. We wanted an interactive element so a twitter feed was important and a nice design that could be customised by our budding Tbase designers. The people at digitalsignage.net have been very helpful offering a months free trial and sorting out technical issues. The system works straight from the Internet. Tbase members can log in and design a poster/page to be displayed on the screen. We can upload photos, videos and slideshows and schedule them to play when we like. One member has already begun putting together a very creative digital poster about the Anger Management group that runs in the centre. The software allows you to add widgets, currently a clock, calendar and weather display which require no updating. Plus there is an option to add an RSS feed and of course the twitter feed. We really hope clients, staff and volunteers of the day centre will be encouraged to add comments for the screen via twitter on their phones or PC's in the centre. That way the screen will have fresh content everyday. There are some limitations we realised when playing with the software. Some things are more customisable than others for example and there's no option to display a web page but as a simple starter solution for our project these guys have provided a pretty good solution http://www.digitalsignage.net/.
Another project that is linked to the TBASE work is text based initiative we've called yourMSG. We've been encouraging homeless people to use Twitter in exchange for mobile phone credit. Broadly the concept is that the more somebody tweets, the more credit they can earn. We've even hooked up with a mobile money company called Beem to make the top-ups a smoother, more automatic process. So what on earth is the point? Surely homeless people have more pressing issues . Well this morning I spent a few minutes helping a homeless person set up a twitter account. We hooked up his regular non-smart phone to his account and set the yourMSG mobile notifications to be sent as a regular text. The person in question is taking a massive step to deal with his gambling addiction by attending a 2wk residential assessment that may then lead to a further 10 weeks away. Often people who use the service can be isolated. Part of our job is to befriend and build up trust. This means people can build up a strong reliance and connection with our service that is not so easy to break away from. The person I helped this morning can now easily receive news and info from our message service and other staff members on twitter. AND, crucially he can easily update us on his progress making the time spent away hopefully a little easier to manage. The way we keep in touch is changing and everyone needs to have some sense of how these new methods work. There is a real risk that social media is creating a new type of social exclusion. The person in question left the centre grinning and saying he would text or tweet us everyday. For people who are already isolated, social media is not just mundane chatter, its a new way to get involved, stay in touch and feel part of the bigger picture.
We've had a bit of a break since I was on leave for a few weeks. But we're slowly getting back into the swing if things. The gambling project is proving to be really inspiring for many who attend Connections. Fernando has struggled with gambling all his life and on Thursday this week he agreed to be interviewed about his experiences. The audio track will be used, along with others in our film about homeless people and gambling. Fernando talked about his habit stemming from his childhood in the Philippines as well as being introduced to the amusements by a school friend when he moved to the UK. His story really gave great insight into how it feels to be addicted to the activity of gambling. It's much less about makng money and much more about never feeling satisfied, like an itch you can't quite scratch. Great stuff Fernando! After the interview Fernando introduced me to his favourite Filipino singer and translated some of the lyrics for me. They were about regret and wanting to change. Fernando laughed and said 'its for me!'.
So we have been out and about in central London taking photos for our gambling project. We wondered how many casinos, betting shops and amusements there were in our local area. Many of us could name locations of betting shops straight away and we started to think it might be good to map all the 'temptations to bet' in a small area of central London.
One of our group admitted he has a problem with gambling. His close friend commented on how good it was to see him being near the amusements but not being tempted to go in. It seemed the group had helped him distract from his gambling behaviour, at least for a while, and helped him express his ideas and experiences creatively. This is what we aim to do in TBase and it was great to see it in action. During the discussion, when asked why homeless people gamble, the same
person had said "gambling gives people a bit of 'hope". We hope TBase can offer an alternative more positive and assured type of hope for all our members.
Two of our new members completed all the tasks for their EDCC certificates in digital photography. One member had never uploaded photos before or used photoshop. Another had not used an Apple Mac before and really enjoyed using the creative effects. Already looking forward to next week!
We have begun our new project for the new year. Slowly but surely it is becoming more apparent how gambling can impact on the lives of homeless people. We began as we usually do with a discussion. It became clear that not only did all the people in the group have some experience of gambling but also they felt it was a major problem for many homeless people they knew. When asked why, various answers came back. "Because its warm in the bookies", "it's something to do" "you can have a chin-wag, and you can't do that in a library" Also comments like "you might win anyway then you've made £5 into £20". Most of the group were understanding of the dangers of gambling. One person admitted that he had lost a great deal through gambling and said his habit had led directly to him becoming homeless.
We began to talk about how some of these issues might be represented in a creative way to raise awareness of the problem. All sorts of ideas were saved and exchanged. These ranged from photo stories to interviews and documentaries. One member began to make an animation about experience of going to the bookies, three others took photos of all the betting shops and casinos they could find in the local area. We are on our way to creating a great, engaging project that will hopefully warn people against the dangers of gambling.
All of the content will be presented on our new interactive screen in the day centre for everybody, staff, volunteers and service users to see. EXCITING STUFF!
For 2 weeks in December some of the budding artists of Connection at St Martins and of course the TBase team (modest cough -ahem) were able to exhibit art work in a real live gallery! The SW1 Gallery in Victoria is a beautiful space and we were lucky enough to be asked to make a mini film of everything on display. We hope you like it!
The lovely people of Loughborough recently got in touch re. their brilliant 'Homeless Not Hopeless' event. They asked whether we would mind if our Homeless A-Z could feature in their event. "OF COURSE!" we replied!! Anything to help spread the word and keep young people safe from the streets. They put a really creative spin on it by displaying each letter as a door that could be opened to see a relevant picture behind. NICE!
THANKS LOUGHBOROUGH DUDES. WE LOVE IT!!
So it is here. It is totally freezing and Christmas is just round the corner. So what on earth have the weekly digi media group been up these last few weeks? Well first things first we've had a big name and image change. Feeling that TouchBase was a bit jargony, (although it reflected stuff about connection and communication,) we decided that Tbase had a much better ring. And we had a little upgrade on the logo which was looking a little flat and tired. We hope you like it!
But perhaps more importantly we have been really busy with our Christmas project. We were asked to put together some digital work for the upcoming Art Exhibition. The original brief was to produce photography but one group member came up with a totally brilliant concept that got our brains and creativity whizzing about. What we have now is a series of Christmas images, and a number of slideshows and videos using those images. One of the slideshows is on our homepage here /index.html
The rest can be seen at the art exhibition, details of which will be posted soon. We have created this work to raise awareness about the issues around homelessness and deliver the message that homeless people are people from all walks of life, they all have a past, a story and a future. Please enjoy and share. Thanks!