It’s been a while since I last updated the blog but simply because I’ve been rushed off my feet. September has been a busy month and I’ve been doing my best to get our presence out there and known.

I haven’t been to business school or done a business degree course but knowing a little about psychology and being interested in what makes people “tick”, I thought that thinking about marketing and doing marketing would involve employing my creative capabilities, psychological knowledge, counselling expertise with a pinch of patience, a dash of money and a smidgen of luck. Well suffice to say that if that’s what I thought (which I naively did) then I was on another planet….

Respect to the marketing executives, creative directors and general marketing know-it-alls out there. “Doing” marketing is like learning another language. I kid you not. It requires as much “oomph” as learning the past participle superlatives and demonstrative pronouns of any language – be they North, South, East or West! I can honestly say this learning journey is going to be without a doubt the hardest and the longest – it is going to continue non-stop and hopefully develop (with my growing marketing ‘awareness’ [for now]).

My existing marketing expertise amounts to – and the best advice I can give ANY emerging enterprise – go out and network! Even if you think it might not be relevant or that a given event is only marginally relevant to what you are doing, still go! You never know who you might end up chatting to whilst enjoying your cup of tea during break, who might sit next to you whilst listening to the latest about micro-enterprises or who might spot your name on the delegates list and actually come up to you and say “So, tell me more about what you do?! I’m sure I’ve seen you at one of these events before!”. Trust me. It’s happening. It takes a good long while but it does happen. Especially if you are one of the people who actually puts their hand up to ask a question, make a comment, share an opinion or simply congratulate the speaker.

In the last month or so I’ve been to a couple of events: “Personalisation and possibilities” which was hosted by Community Catalysts at BVSC in Birmingham and the Long Term Impairment Partnership Board – Disability Conference. Both were fascinating in their own way and as with every event I seem to attend, each gave me a little something and with that gave HumAnima CIC a little something.

At the first event in Birmingham, I wasn’t too sure about how relevant it might be to HumAnima’s development but it turned out to be very relevant. I discovered that HumAnima can be termed a “micro enterprise/ micro provider” due to it’s size (it’s not all about size, but the quality!!!). This was very enlightening as I hadn’t really come across the term before. We were given a fantastic introduction to the various relevant policies and white papers that might affect us or vice versa, such as “The Right to Control” policy and “The Vision for Adult Social Care” and were given further enlightening insight into the reality of personalisation especially from a service user perspective. This was illustrated wonderfully by a recently set-up micro-enterprise called “Pulp Friction Smoothies” – an amazing set-up by a Mother and Daughter who were able to set-up the social enterprise, which helps other young people with disabilities into work through their smoothie bar. The young people make smoothies on a bike… yup. On a bike. The bike and smoothie are connected and the pedaling motion powers the smoothie. Awesome no?!

We later took part in workshops. The workshop I attended looked at “An approach to quality” and introduced us to Commcats Quality Mark. In essence it is a quality stamp but specifically for micro-providers. It is available through Commcats and in the local authorities Commcats operate in, is available at no cost to the organisation. At present Commcats doesn’t have a presence in Wolverhampton but does in nearby Sandwell and Dudley and Walsall. Therefore HumAnima CIC is now going to be working closely with Commcats in those areas to bring our services to the people of those areas. As it is I did not want to limit HumAnima CIC to just Wolverhampton. I want our services to be available all across the West Midlands, where possible so this is a step in the right direction to get the business out there.

More recently, I attended the Long Term Impairment Partnership Board – Disability Conference, which was held in Wolverhampton. They certainly had us working hard from the outset at this event! There was an encouraging mix of service users, service providers and council staff. Naturally the scene has been pretty much determined by the budget cuts and this event aimed to establish where service users wanted the money that is still there, to be spent. The difficulty in this instance, I feel, lay in the fact that there were so many different disability groups present and that some will have felt that perhaps their issues should be prioritised against other. However, it seemed that there definitely was a consensus with regard to such matters as Ring & Ride and access to mobility scooters in town.

What I wanted to see, and didn’t, was perhaps a raised awareness of the mental health impact of disability and long term illness not only on the service user but on their carers and family. I can’t deny that there seems to be a great cavernous gap where this issue undoubtedly exists. However, I will be contacting carers groups and disability groups in the near future to see if HumAnima can assist in some way with this challenge.

As for getting out & about,… Well we’re off to a companion dog show tomorrow with Flossie and Dinky (Flossie’s son and his first dog show) but there will also be fliers available in the Mander Centre in Wolverhampton for HumAnima CIC as there is going to be a “City Style” show. One of the stalls there will be with Equinox Therapy Centre with whom we shall be working in the near future! Exciting stuff!