Edinburgh Cyrenians Weekend: three months on

This week we met up with Phil Reilly from Edinburgh Cyrenians to hear how the charity is getting on… three months after they took part in Impact48. 

Firstly, how did you got involved in Impact48?
I was at the very first Impact48 weekend with Music in Hospitals in April 2013. Barry, Impact48 founder, approached Edinburgh Cyrenians as the next Impact48 charity.

Edinburgh Cyrenians weekend team

What were your expectations; and did the Impact48 team meet them?
After our pitch for the weekend, we hoped that the team would pick up one of our ideas and run with it.  Not only did they choose one; they picked up several of our ideas.

Looking back, what did you enjoy most about the weekend?
Seeing what could be achieved in just 48 hours.  I really enjoyed the whole weekend, but one particular highlight was the final presentation to a panel including Edinburgh Cyrenians’ Interim CEO.  She bought into everything that had been created and suggested – which was exactly the response we were all hoping for.

How does the long-term impact of Impact48 compare to the initial buzz of that final presentation?

Phil Reilly presents the Cyrenians' new infographicWe received very positive reactions from colleagues to the work produced during the weekend.  We’d achieved so much and they could see that instantly.  I had lots of requests for an infographic created during Impact48.  It tells the whole Cyrenians’ story and shows all of our services – which can be tricky to explain!

“We came away with something ‘complete’ that could be presented and shared immediately.”

The finance reporting microsite is being visited and used. Last year, Edinburgh Cyrenians were shortlisted for a Charity Online Financial Reporting Award by ICAEW.  We’re hoping to stand out from the crowd again and the microsite will absolutely help.  It’s changed the way we look at financial data. Our accounts don’t have to be exclusively for funders but can be made accessible and attractive to others too.  We came away from Impact48 with something complete that could be presented and shared immediately.

The “Give in Kind” project proposal has been put on hold for now, following a feasibility study.  The Impact48 developers have kept in touch and are still working on the system with us.  We don’t want to lose the work that has been done and hope we can pick the project back up in the future.

What are the challenges of taking part in Impact48?
It was intensive and tiring, but worth it in the end.  We were prepared – which was important.  An Impact48 weekend is potentially a huge resource so make the most out of it by coming with ideas, staying the whole weekend and be flexible too.

“Impact48 got us thinking, sparked new ideas and gave us the incentive to spend more energy on our website and social media”

Were there any unexpected outcomes?
One unexpected outcome of Impact48 was that it has changed the way Edinburgh Cyrenians think about digital and social media.  We’re focusing more on our website now; keeping it up-to-date, rather than seeing it as something that just sits there.  We’ve identified and are encouraging staff who enjoy tweeting and posting to Facebook.  There’s still work and training to be done, but Impact48 gave us the incentive and ideas needed – we know that social media is not something that’s going to disappear.

Over the Christmas period we held several events for our service users – who can feel particularly isolated at this time of year.  Our over 65s befriending service had a big get-together in Edinburgh.  Music in Hospitals provided us with a band for the event.  We met through Impact48 and hoped to connect again like this in the future.

Finally, what would you say to any individual or charity thinking of getting involved in Impact48?
Do it!

Thanks Phil – chatting to you has us even more excited about future Impact48 weekends!  Stay tuned for the Reader Organisation weekend in Liverpool that kicks off tonight.  Even if you’re not in Liverpool you can still take part.  Follow @RealImpact48 or join us on Facebook for more info.

If you would like to find out more or volunteer for future weekends please get in touch with us! Email admin@impact48.org and sign up to our newsletter.