Monday, January 28, 2019

Singing can seriously enhance your health, happiness and wellbeing......Taunton Deane Male Voice Choir

Since June 2019 I have been Chairman of Taunton Deane Male Voice Choir. The 70+ men are a joyful, enthusiastic and really very good band of singers. We perform for charity and raise many thousands of pounds a year.

Apart from the charitable function the choir performs another equally, and in some ways more important, role. Singing enhances the health and wellbeing in many ways.

I was invited by Charlie Taylor of BBC Radio Somerset to talk about the social prescribing aspects of singing, and choir singing in particular.

Here is the link.............

Friday, January 18, 2019


Attended a really interesting and well run workshop on Better Care run by Doteveryone.

Doteveryone describe themselves as an independent think tank that explores how technology is changing society and build communities to improve the way technology shapes our world.
Founded by Martha Lane Fox in 2015 their work spans a range of important issues for society and in particular for me BetterCare.

Its always good to meet like minded people, but even better when they are brought together in a well thought through and effective manner. Lydia Nicholas and Jacob Ohrvik-Stott with assistance from seemingly many others behind the scenes did a fantastic job of curating a really effective day of creative thinking. Those in need of care, their carers, practitioners and techmology professionals all worked together to build models of a better future.

Well worth signing up to keep up to date with what they develop.

Care for anyone in need in the community is a massive challenge already and will only get more a part of our society's top priorities with an ageing population, reducing budgets throughout the public sector and a legion of unpaid and hard pressed family members and other carers who are stretched to breaking point.

The Long Term Plan for the NHS does not address Social Care. The long awaited green / white paper on a way to improve and support care is still behind the Brexit eight-ball. In 2010 when I stood for Parliament (and lost) in East Devon my losing speech was all about how the political parties had to put aside their differences and work together on the most pressing problem of the era - social care and funding to keep people well, support those with with physical and mental disability and relieve the massive pressure on health and well being sectors.

Some of the key outputs of the day for me were the acceptance that work is not what you get paid for by the hour, its what value you deliver - and unless the value of caring, volunteering, running a family is recognisable and can be used to reflect the contribution individuals make to society then we continue to live in a GDP driven world of business not a human world of mutual respect. Reminders of the Transit project in Barcelona in the early 1990s that I was also very privileged to have been part of.

Examples of how technology could help - from robots to a commercial agency to vet and connect carers to potential clients in Oxfordshire were raised, along with Universal Basic Income, low level technology that tracks and highlights changes in key personal functions and the lack of a clear way forward without engagement at national, local and personal level with committed involvement from technology providers who cannot just throw technology out there and stand back - there must be a support capability for the digital care line that fails because of a power cut at 3 in the morning, or the partner who suddenly cannot access their home finances because their partner has had a stroke and cannot articulate their passwords!

I will be keeping a close eye on what Lydia and her colleagues are doing because it plays directly to the issues we all face, in our own village and in our families. You should too.