3 November 2010

Moving forward with Depaul

Back in June I was very pleased to be involved in the initial work that TFPL have been doing with homeless charity Depaul and last week I was equally pleased to be involved again. So much so that I made the trek in to the City of London for the meeting even though I was enjoying a week's holiday at the time.

The evening started with an update on progress from two TFPL consultants who have been working with Depual. They presented a view of an organisation that relies heavily on the skills, dedication and goodwill of a few people.

It's also an organisation that does a lot of good work, has a strong sense of it's mission (i.e. the six areas of need it needs to address to help people to recover their lives) but which is still prepared to ask for help when it sees the need.

After a couple of months of work, those areas of need had been crystallised down to branding, fund-raising, case studies and volunteering and we organised ourselves in to four groups to address these.

I chose the branding workshop because of my recent experience with this at Logica and at The Mount/King's Oak.

We had a wide-ranging discussion at our table, as you would probably expect, and I'll do my usual unfair thing and pick out just a few points from the notes that I took at the time.

Homelessness has dropped off the media radar as an issue and most people probably think that the problem has been solved. The biggest issue Depaul has, therefore, is in raising the profile of the problem rather than how they try to solve it.

Depaul need to be clear on their mission (and I think they are) which is to take a holistic view in addressing individuals' needs. In contrast, Crisis is more an emergency fix and Shelter more of a political campaign.

The view of the customer is key. The brand needs to speak to their needs and to compete against options like a no-hassle night in the cells.

The all-tables wrap-up session allowed some  cross-fertilisation of ideas and provided a fitting end to the evening. Closing conversations with the Depaul people there suggested that they found the evening valuable and, in the end, that's what really mattered.

The work over and still buzzing with intellectual adrenaline we headed to the nearest pub for more conversations and a gentle warm down for our weary brains.

This is exactly the sort of thing that I like to do on my holidays.

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