collective voice

Thanks for dropping by our blog page. Our team of over 40 full-time experts use our people-shaped approach to #MakeBetterHappen for individuals, communities and organisations. With insight, co-creation and engagement at the core of all that we do, our mission is to help shape a well, confident and self-reliant society. Call us on 0845 5193 423

How can you create a social movement of self care?

March 7, 2017 14:24

Significantly improving health outcomes and reducing premature mortality rates requires a joined up approach. Health professionals, stakeholders and citizens must work together to engage communities and make sure nobody is left behind.

According to a report by the King's Fund, individuals from lower socio-economic and educational groups are five times more likely to engage in a number of unhealthy behaviours at once such as smoking, eating takeaways, drinking alcohol and consuming ready meals.

Co-created with Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, the borough wide ‘Health Smart’ programme focused on smoking, obesity/diet, cancer screening and improving faster access to care for people who have had a stroke in the community.

Combined with trying to manage money on a low-level fixed income, these behaviours mean making ends meet can be very challenging. We’ve found that by working together, we can help to improve the health, wellbeing and welfare of your customers whilst protecting your income.

To combat early cancer deaths, the programme aimed to increase symptom awareness, early diagnosis and screening uptake. By increasing understanding of food portioning as a tool to manage weight, the programme also aimed to reduce the increasing risk of obesity.

The development, management and execution of the Health Smart programme were based upon ICE’s people-shaped philosophy. Using insight, co-creation and engagement, we used baseline surveys to establish current levels of awareness from representatives across the borough in relation to food portions/healthy eating, signs and symptoms of cancer and signs of and response to stroke.

To increase engagement and the impact of messaging, the creative for Health Smart was co-designed with RMBC and community representatives to agree campaign identity and logo, key messages, tone of voice and design style.

Finally, the campaign embraced an asset-based community development approach – empowering and up-skilling stakeholders and ‘Champions’ to deliver face-to-face engagements, create connections using social media and traditional styles of communication, and to bring together stakeholders and support services to deliver informative and engaging interventions.

The programme covered three work streams:

  • ‘Champions’ recruitment, training and support
  • Marketing and engagement campaign
  • Full programme evaluation.

The role of the ‘Champions’ was to raise awareness of the Health Smart programme, to encourage dialogue about health topics and general wellbeing, to activate and empower the community to make positive lifestyle choices and to encourage the community to take positive action relating to their own lifestyle and health behaviours.

Health Smart Champions:

  • 71% of Champions felt either fairly or very confident to talk to people about portion size and healthy eating
  • 94% of Champions recognised the ‘ideal’ food plate unprompted
  • 70% said they felt either fairly or very confident to talk to people about the signs and symptoms of cancer
  • Majority of Champions understood and recognised the different signs and symptoms of cancer
  • 84% said they would see a GP within a week if they had concerns about a cancer sign/symptom
  • Majority of Champions understood the signs of a stroke.

The Champions reported over 2,000 local engagements at a grass root level through conversations and dialogue with people locally. In total, 17 community events were funded across the borough, resulting in a further 600 community level engagements.


At the end of the Health Smart programme, outcomes included:

  • An increase to 92% in intention to act and call 999/ambulance immediately when presented with signs and symptoms of a stroke
  • An increase to 87% in identification of the recommended healthy food plate
  • An increase of 92% in awareness of screening programmes.

To request a full case study, talk to Paul Williams on 07970 037 012 or at

The mega-merger - what's changed and why?

October 28, 2016 12:17

In spring 2015, there was much discussion across the sector of the rise of the ‘mega-merger’, with predictions stating that in a year's time there would be eight organisations with 100,000 homes or more – the ‘mega-association’. The rationale behind this trend was sound; combining assets and surpluses together increases borrowing capacity, cashflow, the ability to build more houses and attract the top talent to the newly merged organisations.

Instead, 18 months later we are witnessing a series of high profile collapses, with the sector journals looking for explanations as to why the proposed mergers failed. One theme seems to be emerging consistently from these investigations – culture, or more accurately, cultural misalignment and the fear for one organisation that it will lose its cultural identity.

 But what is culture; why is it so important and how do we define it?

It is complicated and multifaceted. It includes the way that your colleagues interact, communicate and treat each other, how they work together, overcome challenges and react to adversity. There is also your organisational social norms, the unwritten rules about expected standards and levels of behaviour and your management philosophy, which can range from central control to laissez-faire. It is also about the external projection of your organisation, how you interact with your stakeholders, customers and wider publics and how they perceive you. In summary, it’s who you are as an organisation.

Each organisation’s culture is different and it is therefore easy to understand why a clash of cultures, or even a slight cultural misalignment, has prevented some of the planned mergers from going ahead. This is in spite of the fact that the organisations concerned share a common purpose, social mission, commercial approach and business objectives.

Put oil and water together in a confined space, they will naturally separate.

Whether a merger is part of your plan or not, building for the future will involve some level of change for your organisation. To be successful, you’ll need to understand your culture to establish how prepared your organisation is for change.

At ICE, we can help you to explore your current state and design a values-led culture that will support you to achieve your organisation’s vision and goals. Our programme includes helping you to understand the role that your leaders, employees and the performance of your organisation play in shaping your values-driven culture, and the beliefs and behaviours that are needed to support this. To achieve this, we have a number of effective tools and techniques that we will share with you on our journey, including culture and talent map values and behaviour tools, which are accessible to everyone in your organisation and bespoke to you.

We will be with you every step of the way through our clearly defined 7 stage approach, working in partnership and co-creating your values with you. To talk through how we can support you and your organisation on its journey to establishing and embedding a values-driven culture, please contact Paul Williams on 0151 647 4700 or

Do you need support to manage your content online?

October 26, 2016 16:02

With the digital revolution, there are now so many more customer touchpoints – be it via your website or your app. Are you looking to improve the user experience on your digital platforms? If so, we have the tools to help. Our bespoke solutions make sure that your needs are met in a co-created and cost effective way.

Orbit Group worked with ICE to understand the views and experiences of stakeholders and staff implementing their Community Investment programmes. These include support for Orbit customers on managing debt and finances, seeking employment, improving life skills and improving health and wellness. However, take up of the programmes was low and a new strategy was required to engage customers in the opportunities available.

“The delivery has been excellent given the constraints, hitting the brief and spec with more accuracy than a lot of longer projects!”

Tim Dumbleton, Digital Inclusion and Development Manager, Orbit Living.

Stakeholders and frontline staff involved in offering or delivering the programmes to customers told us that one of their biggest challenges was keeping track of what programmes were being offered, when and where. Traditionally, communications raising awareness of the programmes happened in a piecemeal way, and staff and stakeholders needed to keep a record of what was currently available in their area and what might be coming up in future.  When speaking to customers, they relied on their memory to get all the information across.

As a result of this insight, we proposed a ‘one stop’ online space where all the community investment work could be stored and kept up to date. We worked in partnership with the Orbit web team to ensure the site was built to maintain a seamless user journey from the main Orbit site into the ‘HUB’ site – one that could also easily be migrated into any future rebuild of the main Orbit site.

The web portal was built using the latest version of Umbraco (7); this was based on a site structure and specification devised by Orbit. It was built using an open-source Microsoft framework called ASP.Net, utilising the MVC (Model-View-Controller) design pattern which offers excellent flexibility and options for future development and future-proofing the solution. A key area for the website was to build an easy-to-use advanced search tool which uses our faceted algorithms to help the user define and refine their search results based on key words/phrases, geo distance (miles) and cleaver page tagging. We’re currently scoping out phase two of this project to integrate this as a secure intranet, as well as a public portal using AD Federation services.

The site was deployed to a test environment for the Orbit team and our internal team to test. User acceptance testing was delivered by Orbit with a group of stakeholders and staff. The entire build process took less than four weeks.

“Just to say a huge thank you to all that have been involved up until now with the HUB. It is looking really good and ultimately the feedback from staff and partners after three sessions today has been really positive. They easily see the value of it, how it will be used and people in different parts of the business are saying how useful it will be and how they would use it. I realise the amount of time and effort that has gone in to getting this to this stage in the time scales. Really impressed.”

Sam Scharf, Head of Community Investment, Orbit Living.

Can promoting healthy living protect your income?

August 10, 2016 16:53

Money, employment, family and home life, health and wellbeing - which of these are important to your customers?

Unsurprisingly, our research with social housing customers revealed that all of these factors are vitally important to them, and that they all support their fundamental aspiration for a safe and secure future for themselves, their children and their families.

However, what was of particular interest is that each of these priorities has a direct effect on the other, which traps some customers in a downward spiral that they find difficult to break. For example, a primary barrier to gaining employment is not lack of skills or experience. Rather, it is believed to be poor mental and physical health and wellbeing. Not being able to secure employment affects a customer’s ability to earn money, which creates uncertainty around maintaining a home. This causes stress and anguish, which have a detrimental impact upon their mental and physical health and wellbeing:

So what can we do to help your customers to break this cycle, become more financially secure, achieve their aspiration and protect your income by paying their rent on time?

Recently, the King’s Fund reported that individuals from lower socio-economic and educational groups are five times more likely to engage in a number of unhealthy behaviour at once such as smoking, eating takeaways, drinking alcohol, consuming ready meals and engaging in low-level fixed odds betting.

When these behaviours are combined with trying to manage money on a low-level fixed income, making ends meet can be really challenging, particularly for those who are trying to manage their budget and financial commitments under Universal Credit. We’ve found that by working together, we can help to improve the health, wellbeing and welfare of your customers whilst protect your income.

We can help

At ICE, our social marketing and behaviour change specialists have worked extensively with housing customers across the country to create a programme that not only supports an improvement in health and wellbeing, but also financial stability.

We call it GET MON£YSMART, and it received the top award for Behaviour Change Innovation at the World Behavioural Science Nudge Awards.

It is a structured, multichannel social marketing programme designed to engage, educate and empower your customers to make small, incremental changes to unhealthy lifestyle behaviours that also benefit their finances.

This effective and engaging programme protects your income by supporting your customers to:

  • Improve their health and wellbeing by reducing their unhealthy behaviours
  • Reduce spending on non-essential items
  • Pay their rent on time, and not fall into arrears.

The campaign theme and resources can be tailored easily to fit your corporate brand, and the communications and engagement plan can be shaped to meet your specification.

To take a look at our GET MON£YSMART case study or to find out more about how we can co-create a bespoke solution to meet your needs, contact Paul Williams on 0151 647 4700 or at