Labelling things and the language we use are important. So is the vast network of organisations — large, small and everywhere in between — across the UK that make up ‘civil society’ (something to which I will refer as ‘the sector’ in this blog).

So, then, why do we have so many interchangeable names for these organisations and what real consequences is this having for the sector (and our public services too)?

This isn’t a new conversation-starter, I’m sure. This is purely an attempt to unpick my thoughts and frustrations around this. …


We — Tom Watson (The Good Ship) and Tom French — have been working together on developing a super-simple CRM in Airtable for voluntary sector organisations and groups. And we want to share it with you today to see if anyone would be interested in using it — for free, of course — and helping us to understand if it has legs. If that’s enough for you to get in touch, then drop us a line!

Screenshot of the CRM we have been working on

If, perhaps quite rightly, you need to know more about why we’ve done this, what it entailed and what’s in it for us then…


Life is complicated.
It really is.
We don’t understand.
Make it simple!

Can we reduce?
Yes we can.
How can we?
Three word slogan.
All that’s needed.
A common bond.
And they permeate…

Education, education, education.
Take back control.
Strong and stable.
Brexit means Brexit.
Get Brexit done.
Build back better.
Hands, face, space.
In it together?

Britain’s Got Talent.
(OK, too tenuous.)

Where’s the rest?
Where’s the context?
There is more.
We are more!

So, don’t simplify?
I like simplicity, actually.
And I think it’s necessary.
I find myself doing it a lot.
But it involves conversation about the whole, about complexity.
I think it’s harder than some would lead us to believe.
I certainly find it so.

Take a stand!
Reject the reduction.
We’re not stupid.
We do understand.

Three word slogan:
Be no more.


It’s been 18 months since I decided to go freelance. By all the usual measures of success — managing to feed myself, having some sleep, still seeing people I care about, not completely ruining my reputation — I have done OK, I reckon.

One of the things that I wanted to do and thought I would be doing more of, however, hasn’t happened at all since day one. And that’s writing outside the confines of paid work; expressing myself independently and exposing myself to challenge. …


This week has been a big one for me. I started a career as a self-employed person. I had a ‘proper’ job last Friday and now I’m on my third day as a freelancer. And people have started asking me about things like what my services are and what I will doing for people. So, I guess one of the first things to do as a freelancer is figure out a better answer to them than ‘data and evaluation support, innit’.**

A good starting point for me has been to reflect on the past three-and-a-half years working at Good Things…


At Good Things Foundation, we’re all about digital inclusion and social inclusion. Our vision is a world where everyone benefits from digital technology. With the support of the Online Centres network we design, deliver and evaluate programmes that aim to tackle these issues and make sure that no-one is left behind in our increasingly-digital world.

Drawing used with thanks to Emily Redmond, Good Things Foundation

But what about those people who have their own reasons for not using the internet? People’s lives are complicated and it’s not as simple as making technology available or putting on IT classes. There are often tougher barriers for people to overcome before they can…


Sheffield Data for Good has been around for about 15 months now. Its aim is to bring together the data and social expertise in Sheffield to help solve the city’s social problems. We’ve held a few Meetups, some focusing on homelessness and others on ‘social isolation’. For most of that time, the group has been finding its feet, particularly in relation to the most appropriate format for our sessions.

One Saturday in late January 2019, however, it felt like it came of age. We held our first ‘data hack’ in partnership with Roundabout, a youth homelessness charity in Sheffield. The…


At Good Things Foundation we collect, analyse and use a lot of different data. Some are our own sets arising from the surveys we administer or through organisations signing up to our Network(s). Other data sets come from elsewhere, such as the Office of National Statistics or other open data sources. We also combine data to tell the story of what we do.

These data are used by of our staff in lots of ways. Often, the data in our external communications are repurposed by different organisations too.

So, how can we ensure a consistent approach to the way(s) in…


This Medium publication is a collection of thoughts, insights and examples from people using different types of data (open or otherwise), their analysis and visualisations to understand / describe / predict / solve social challenges.

This could be at a hyper-local level or nationally. And we talk about what hasn’t worked well as much as we talk about successes.

We are an open group of collaborators.

Contributions are welcome.


At Good Things Foundation we collect, analyse and use a lot of different data. Some are our own sets arising from the surveys we administer or through organisations signing up to our Network(s). Other data sets come from elsewhere, such as the Office of National Statistics or other open data sources. We also combine data to tell the story of what we do.

These data are used by of our staff in lots of ways. Often, the data in our external communications are repurposed by different organisations too.

So, how can we ensure a consistent approach to the way(s) in…

Tom French

Freelancer. A mix of data stuff, research, evaluation and words. Always social purpose, learning and having conversations. Founder of Sheffield Data for Good.

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