Work Wellness

Posted: November 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

Here in the UK the NHS is something that’s more than an establishment, it’s a part of the British state of mind: if you get ill you will receive world class treatment, free and (mostly) promptly.

However, the NHS can only do so much. They offer advice about public health and wellbeing but given their limited resources, have to concentrate on making people better, rather than preventing people from getting ill in the first place.

And health is an issue most people shy away from. If you’ve ever watched Embarrassing Bodies you’ll know that people’s willful ignorance means that they won’t go to the doctor until something is really wrong with them. You find yourself asking “how could anyone have possibly let it get that bad?” when they finally present with a limb that’s all but atrophied itself off. But I think we’re all guilty of it to some extent, we find excuses, we don’t have enough time, it’s not bad, it’s just a twinge, it’ll pass… All the while we’re just storing up trouble for the future.

Companies from cleaning outfits to international banks carry out drug screenings to weed out potential problems before they impact on their bottom line so why not initiate health screening too? Maybe you’d find it a little intrusive to have your employer carry out a raft of health checks on you, you’d be worried about what they might find or that they might use the results to limit your chances of promotion or advancement if you had something that might mean you’re knocked off of your career path for an extended period of time.

But that’s not the point. Some middle managers in unscrupulous corporations might use such data as leverage but in the most part companies will be able to use this information to help and support you, identifying concerns and addressing them in a timely fashion means that you’re not likely to take unpredictable days off or go on long term sick. Nobody wants you to be ill and replacing your unique skillset is laborious, expensive and boring. Instead it’s much better to keep you fit in the first place.

It’s not just your physical health that’s being monitored either. Many of us feel uncomfortable talking about stress or issues that affect our mental health. Ask a Briton how they are and you know things are really bad if they say “yeah, fine.” “Could be better” portends disaster of a global scale. If we’re like this with our friends, consider what we’re like when an employer asks. Is your chair ok? are your eyes alright? do you need any help with that? will all elicit the reply “everything’s fine, really.” If we can’t answer basic questions like this honestly, then how can we be expected to talk about stress, anxiety, insecurity and worry in an honest way.

Tackling these issues in a neutral space with a qualified healthcare professional as part of your terms of employment would offer a chance to improve the health of all concerned. You’d be seeing the benefits of preventative healthcare, your employers would be able to make the workplace a healthier space, cut down absenteeism and improve staff retention as found in a report published by RAND in response to a survey they conducted in 2014.

It’s important to target these programmes to the individual. Generic programmes to improve a nebulous notion of “health” often fail to hit the mark. People find them boring, embarrassing or irrelevant. Telling people about diet and fitness is all very well but I think everybody knows that they should probably get more exercise and take care of themselves better. Again, it’s finding the time, inclination and motivation that holds them back. On the other hand, if people were given a battery of tests, a thorough exam, not only of themselves but their working environment too, then they would know that their health was being taken seriously and that they are valued as a person as well as an asset.


What’s The State Of Pay?

Posted: November 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

Are you being paid enough? Ask anyone that question and I doubt many people will say “Oh too much, it’s a pain trying to give it all away!” Instead, most people will bemoan their pittance or concede that they could get by quite happily but for the ever-rising rent, inflation and sundry expenses.

Money is in reality simply a token for what other people think our time is worth. If you work in a shop or making things then your time is probably judged to be worth less than the owner of the shop the things you produce are sold through.

When Arkwright invented the water frame he intended it to free up the time of workers so that they could enjoy an increased quality of life. Instead, of course, mill owners built bigger factories to house more frames and employed people to keep them running longer than ever. Later, in the 1960s it was believed that manufacturing was so advanced that again, people would work for six hours a day, the rest of their time would be filled with literature, art and other muses.

Of course that didn’t happen. We entered a consumer credit economy where we worked longer hours for stagnant salaries so we could buy things we didn’t really need that wouldn’t last more than a couple of years. We’re slaves to the throw-away culture. When’s the last time you fixed something? Most of us just throw things away when they stop working properly rather than even have a go at mending them. There has of late though been an increasing trend to repair faulty items, apply visible mends to clothes and accessories. Make it and Mend is becoming the latest incarnation of customising and accessorising.

The street where I live has an extremely cosmopolitan and diverse population, one end has bespoke hotels and guest houses, the other, what appears to be a bail or homeless hostel and in the middle, small unfurnished flats like mine. Because the flats are unfurnished residents pay a fee if they leave anything behind, meaning that there are regularly beds, sofas and tables often of better quality than the things I own left out on the street to be taken away by the dustmen. (before you ask, I live at the top of a narrow staircase.) We call these items ‘street treasure’. The chest of drawers I have, the huge gilt mirror and VHS player, turns out I did need one after all, were all plundered from the streets in my locale. It’s become so widespread to take things you find home that people label the items they pitch as working or not working.

Freecycling is increasing in popularity, not only for large items that are difficult or expensive to dispose of but for things that people might simply want, like bedding plants, magazines and text books.

It wasn’t so long ago that supermarkets would pour bleach or detergent over the food in their bins to stop Freegans from taking the leftover, edible food they were sending to landfill or having them arrested for theft if they were caught sorting through the rubbish. Now, with austerity continuing to bite and even working families finding themselves so impoverished they rely on foodbanks, supermarkets are finally recognising their social responsibilities and giving food that’s past its use-by date and would otherwise be used as fuel or buried to organisations who work to help the hungry.

On a more global scale, we’re given the line that the world is barely able to support the human population, however, the real problem isn’t with production, it lies with distribution. When most of North America and Europe is obese and more than a third of the food produced is thrown away it’s clear that the scarcity of food isn’t an issue, it’s the will to provide food top the regions of the world that suffer from a lack of infrastructure, climate or war where food can’t currently be produced sufficiently. India is a particularly glaring example of a failing distribution system. It demands its right to burn more coal so that it can catch up with other powerful economies and yet it already has the highest proportion of billionaires in the world. It is a nuclear power and yet it still receives international aid from the UK because of the number of people living in poverty within its boarder. There can’t be many nations that have a space programme, nuclear power, a film industry that’s bigger than Hollywood that still need handouts from the international community.

That’s just one example. There are many countries which suffer from extremes of wealth and poverty, and the difference is getting worse in all industrialised countries, yet, in those with the smallest gap, most notably Scandinavian nations, the difference is less pronounced and the population report being happier. Indeed, on the international happiness index, it has been found that where the gap is smaller the population are more satisfied with their quality of life while those that show a greater difference are less happy. And that unhappiness isn’t directly linked to the poorest in those societies. The rich and the poor are equally miserable in an unequal community.

So, what’s the solution?


Increasing the minimum wage is the obvious place to start. Naysayers object as they claim it would be too expensive to implement, however, in every case where the minimum wage has increased employee happiness, health and outlook has improved while also improving the economy. Happy people with more money enjoy spending it. And who could object to that?

When any business is thinking about engaging in organic social media for marketing and advertising, the two most important questions they are going to ask are “What will I get for my money?” and “when will I see those returns?”

The answers are difficult to provide as each client’s businesses are so different and the way consumers react to different social strategies varies hugely. For instance, one of our clients, a well known SaaS provider who we have been working with for several years recently saw one customer appear as a direct result of our our ongoing social media strategy that we had drawn up for them. A single client might seem like a poor return of investment for the effort involved, however, this consumer had a multi-million dollar budget, and a need for our client’s services. Once the deal had gone through, the investment that they had made in organic social media easily offset the cost of the time that they had been using our services


This highlights one of the key features of social media. Unlike traditional advertising, there is two-way flow. Because social media gives you the ability to talk to your end users, you can gain trust and authority within the marketplace. Your clients will always be watching you online, seeing how you deal with customers, partners and competitors online, observing how you approach innovation and react to a difficult economic environment. They may have been looking at you for years before deciding that it’s you they trust over your competitors and finally pick up the phone.

Traditional advertising naturally fails to lever this advantage. You spend money putting your name out there, your competitors do the same and you end up in the situation that Pepsi and Coke find themselves in, spending billions of dollars in advertising every year espousing your product’s uniqueness against thier competitor’s almost identical product.

With social media your uniqueness comes from your authority. Another example can be drawn from a different client ours, a high-end B2B wine dealer specialising in importing fine wines from a variety of regions. They frequently receive plaudits from their winery clients for their approach to presentation and the success of their distribution. They have facilitated dialogue between restaurants and the wine producers giving them the opportunity to improve their business in both sales and reputation, all of which reflects back on our client as a trustworthy authority in the marketplace. Thanks to the kudos they receive from their existing clients, they are seeing new business approaching them along with increasing the variety of wines they are able to supply to existing customers.

Long Term Goals Alongside Short Term Wins

These examples of clients who’ve achieved success with a long view of organic social media aren’t alone, however, they don’t represent our entire social media approach. If you look at another client we work with, an app developer with a product which enables users to send gifts of low value confectionary, you’ll see that their needs are entirely different. Their campaign works on a system of driving users to the app following a model of impulse gift buying and repeat purchasing. Once users have downloaded the app they might have the opportunity to forget about it, except that the model we work on via social media constantly reminds them that they have an opportunity to buy low cost candy gifts for all occasions simply by clicking and providing a delivery address.  By keeping their app’s name and function in front of customers’ eyes we make it impossible for users to forget their service so, as a result, their ROI is remains positive.

In this example, measuring the direct success of their social media activities is not straightforward as web to app tracking remains difficult with current technology. And that brings us to the over-riding theme of the question of “What will I get for my money?”: Measurability.

With PPC and email marketing you are provided with real time click-rates, segmentation of users, their demographic and their online usage and spending habits. Organic social media marketing is, because of its organic nature, less measurable although it clearly produces results; companies who’ve used social media successfully in the past and cut back on it have seen appreciable loss of business which has reversed when they have reinvigorated their social engagement. Organic has its advantages in other ways too. it’s generally less intrusive than paid search and PPC. Users are encouraged to like and share as well as get involved in the conversation and this is fast becoming a big deal. Now that products such as Adblocker defeating the more traditional methods of online advertising organic search, natural social media and authority in the marketplace are going to become far more valuable as marketing resources as the return of investment placed in traditional advertising becomes less and less rewarding, which is why it is so important to implement an effective organic strategy today.

When Brighton Went To War

Posted: November 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

A view of the First World War from some local people who fought in it

To remember the sacrifice of the local men who fought on the front and the women who had to watch them go, knowing that they may never see them again, Brighton Toy and Model Museum will be holding an event focusing on the very personal experience of those who went, those who never came back, and the ones they left behind.

It was a Tommy from Brighton who pulled the trigger on the first British shot fired in anger

On 22nd of August 1914 a German officer was unhorsed by Pte Ernest Edward Thomas, a 4th Dragoon Guard who lived on Southdown Avenue. After experiencing several adventures, the decorated and Promoted Sgt Thomas survived the war and died 25 years later, still living in Brighton, on the eve of the Second World War.

Fascinating details like these, the letters shared between those at the front and their wives and sweethearts at home in Brighton And Hove, even songs written by the girls of the local munitions factory: Light and Co of Circus Street will be recited, affording an insight into the attitudes of all those involved in the war effort, both at home and facing the enemy.

The Pavilion as a Hospital

Recognition will also be made to those who came from the furthest reaches of the Empire to fight for King and Country and, once wounded, found themselves recovering in The Royal Pavilion. Letters from officers and other ranks recruited in India describe the reception they received from the people of Sussex, especially girls, cheering their arrival and inviting them into their homes for comfort.

The evening’s schedule remembering the efforts of those from Sussex will start at 7.30pm in the Museum. Admission costs £8.00, 50% of the ticket proceeds will go to veterans’ charity Combat Stress, a UK charity supporting ex-service personnel and their families who are suffering from depression, stress and other trauma related mental health issues. Tickets are available on the door or by booking in advance here.

All of us here at the Museum would like to thank everyone who came along and helped make the Running Day such a success. From the visitors, the volunteers, staff and the camera crew, we couldn’t have had such a great day without you all.

We all had a great time and hope that everyone who came along to see our collection of trains running enjoyed themselves too. It was good to see so many people who had not been before, who said “I always walk past but I’ve not come in before” and those who never knew we were here in the first place. We hope you all felt welcome and we look forward to seeing you again.
Because the Children Go Free day was such a success and we loved meeting so many new people we are thinking about putting on more Children Visit For Free days during the summer holidays, giving the kids something to do that’s a little bit out of the ordinary on a weekday. We can’t confirm anything yet but keep an eye out for posters and pamphlets in the next few weeks.
We asked anyone who was interested in seeing the final broadcast TV show to give us their email address so we could forward the link to YouTube when it became available and naturally we’ll be hosting a link to it from our channel and on the website but if you’d also like to get the link sent directly to your inbox when we get it then email us and we’ll make sure you get it just as soon as we do.

Since we’re on the subject of children in the museum, I would like to make a little addendum to mention that we are going to be re-launching the Children’s Club in September. After that the club will be open one Sunday every two months when we will have toys out to play with, art, crafts and stories told by one of our resident raconteurs.

For more information as it becomes available, look out for our blogs, Facebook andTwitter updates, posters or simply join our mailing list where we can inform you of all these details plus much more museum news as it happens. To sign up, just drop us an email with “Mailing List” in the subject field to

On Wednesday our event encouraged people in Brighton and Hove to get involved in our campaign to collect and share their childhood memories .

It was good to meet so many people who wanted to get involved in this project, and we’re sure that with their help and the help of the contributors we gain in the future, then the Toys In The Community, Valuing Memories of dolls, teddy bears and construction toysinitiative will be a valuable resource for people interested in childhood, play, development and memory for many years to come.
As well as the participants who came in and offered to share their memories we also had some of the consultants who are going to help make this project a reality in the museum to meet the volunteers and show them, and the participants what the process of gathering, collecting and storing the memories will involve.

When the project comes to fruition it will be more than just a relic in a museum, we are planning on keeping digital records of the memories which can then be shared in perpetuity on the internet, through a printed book and exhibit which will travel to various locations in order to bring memories of childhood and toys to where they are wanted.
In order to achieve this goal we have recruited the services of Steven Cragg, a local photographer who specialises in portraits, photographic services and events.
The designer who is taking care of the website which will be dedicated to the Toys In The Community project is Peter Pavement@surfimpress, managing director and founder of Surface Impression.
Paul Dutnall from JunkTV was also here,as  he is taking care of the videography for the project. JunkTV are a local youth and community TV production and screening company and Paul will be helping us tape and edit the interviews that we create.
Also present on the evening was Sarah Hitchings @spokenmemoirs of Spoken Memoirs another local organisation who specialise in recording oral histories, interviewing, oral history training, preservation and research.

In The News!  

Posted: June 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

If you’ve been to visit the toy museum recently you’ll know about our project to collect memories of toys and childhood from people all over the Brighton and Hove area.

The campaign is due to come to fruition next year, in order to coincide with 25 years of being open to visitors. Our idea is to gather thoughts and memories of people who are currently living in the area, who may have come from anywhere in the world, to share with other people. The memories will be put together and used to create a traveling exhibit, a book and new website which will be a permanent resource for people who are interested in toys, models and childhood generally.

As part of our activities to promote the project we’ve been approaching people in all sorts of places to get interested and promote the open evening we’re having on Wednesday 9th of July from 5:30 to 7:30 where people can come along, have a look around the museum for free and sign up to be interviewed about their memories of their own toys which they used to play with. As well as getting a few pieces in local newspapers and magazines Andrea, our project manager for the Toys In The Community, Valuing Memories of dolls, teddy bears and construction toysinitiative has been interviewed on the local BBC and Juice 107.2 radio stations. You can read about the interview Andrea gave to Juice here, unfortunately they don’t appear to have a way of listening to the piece after broadcast but if you want to listen to Andrea waxing lyrical (although early in the morning, we admire her commitment!) then you can find the show by clicking on Neil Pringle‘s face.Neil Pringle
So remember, if you’re able to come along on the open evening, then please do, and if you’re not able to come down but you’re interested in contributing a memory, please do let us know by calling on 01273 749494 or email us so we can arrange a time that’s convenient for you to come to us or we could even come to you. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!