Category Archives: Karen’s Blog Posts


We have all become used to being able to have a highly interactive experience online with the explosion of Social Media. Now CORS is going to add to this by allowing service users to sign on and look at their own records (optional) and engage with recording some items such as booking activities. Photographs are a great way of making experiences more personal and this will become a feature of all activities whereby graphic representations of what happened that day will assist with the explanations.

Data sharing and protection

Voice recording, listen here:

Data Protection Transcript

Data Protection Additional Notes

Some useful Resources:

The full Data Protection Act 1998

Data Protection Act 1998 overview

Reform of EU Data Protection rules that came into force on the 24th May 2016 

Guide to Data Protection

Downloadable Pdf version of the Caldicott committee report

Government response to Caldicott Report

Why bother monitoring outcomes?

Voice recording, listen here:


Transcript, download Pdf here:

Why bother monitoring Outcomes?

Helping Each Other…

Many of our organisations turn to each other for support for various reasons; sometimes one of them may have been successful with a funding bid that the other organisation is just commencing on, sometimes the similarity in service provision, despite being in different locations, means that they can learn something about what outcome measures are meaningful, and sometimes they even contact each other for guidance and support about how to use CORS! This doesn’t worry us, as we are aware that sometimes you just need somebody that understands you to talk to.

We also turn to our clients to improve our service. We consistently ask for suggestions about how to make CORS better from the people that use the system day in day out. When we started developing CORS into a system that many services would use (we had originally made CORS for one service, but many other organisations asked if they could have it too), we knew that the more people that subscribed to CORS the better value we could make it. This is the old chicken and egg scenario however, whereby until we had to have sufficient numbers to make us sustainable, there wouldn’t even be a chance of our system continuing. The trick was also not to grow too fast so that we could offer a higher quality service. This was many years ago now however, thankfully, and CORS is definitely here to stay, and growing steadily!

The next stage then is to become better value as more services join our family. We are using the ‘helping each other’ model to allow our services to attract others by recommendation for discounts on their own provision. If you know any organisations that you think would benefit from our system, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and ask about the discount schemes available.

Time Flies

Four years ago we were planning our attendance at the Social Enterprise Exchange in Scotland, and here we are again. These experiences expose us to a wide variety of organisations that think differently to mainstream entrepreneurs. I’m not sure if Scotland actually does have a greater proportion of social enterprises, but whenever I visit there is always a strong appetite for the extra value having social impact at the heart of any business brings. Nicola Sturgeon will give the opening address this year , so I am very much looking forward to her plenary.

This year we are planning to partner with one of the social enterprises to provide some more meaningful giveaways. Libertie are a project that provide arts and crafts activities as a therapeutic intervention to reduce the risks of offending. Having worked with offenders myself, I can appreciate that creative interventions bring increased and sustainable positive impact. I hope in supporting them we will be creating good karma by handing out something more worthwhile than the usual tacky handouts! Why not come and see us there at Stand 3

Crowdsource your funding.

I recently had the privilege to attend an introduction to crowdfunding course provided by Manchester City Council, God bless the ‘free event’ filter in eventbrite! Apart from anything else, this was a great opportunity to visit the newly revamped Manchester central library, and learn about the great Business and IP centre there. I find that keeping up to date with issues that affect our services, whilst being secondary to my main role, is crucial to understanding the pressures faced by social enterprises in today’s ever more competitive market.

A key thing that I learnt was that the relationship to your funders is of utmost importance to building a successful crowdfunding campaign. I have myself backed several campaigns through both crowdfunding, and crowdlending, and been witness to both successful and unsuccessful attempts to raise funds through both of these methods. Some campaigns have provided great feedback on what they were able to achieve, others not so great, in this case I’m afraid I am reluctant to further fund in the future. This has led to me wondering, how much do third sector enterprises consider relations with their funders? Historically, larger funding streams have often come from authorities that contract in services, and reporting criteria are outlined from the start. When creating outcome / impact reporting nowadays, you may have to appease to a much larger audience of stakeholders.

Having a reporting system like CORS allows you to send well formatted reports out to people electronically using widely available software such as Adobe and Microsoft Office. It is this professionalism that creates optimism and security on behalf of your funders, who need to see that the money they invest in you is bringing about the changes that they hoped to invest in. Crowdfunding is a great way for the market to get behind projects that they really care about, but it requires innovative approaches to feedback that support the trust required, and proves that the money invested genuinely affects a change that funders wanted to see.

New Year Ponderings…

As the New Year settles in, it may seem that the whole world is in disarray. Brexit looming, NHS along with most public services are at breaking point, and don’t even get me started with the whole president elect! It’s not right, there is no doubt about that, and as an organisation we do all we can to campaign against cuts in the public sector, but the upcoming year will undoubtedly provide our services with some extreme challenges. At times like these that it becomes easiest to neglect the seemingly mundane chores of recording, and investing in systems like CORS to do this. Sometimes however, it is these tasks that make our futures brighter. With this in mind, here at Gravitas we have been having a New Year catch up, a chance to tidy up our bug/suggestions list that has been long overdue, and create a strategy for development over the year ahead.

Sir Stuart Etherington, the Chief Executive of the NCVO has pointed out that it may well have to be volunteers that enable the public sector to cope with increasing demands coupled with reducing budgets. He reminds us that volunteers are not just unpaid labour, but can be well trained and highly dedicated individuals that value the rewards they get for filling their spare time with meaningful endeavour.

If you are a user of our system you will be only too aware that we continually encourage your suggestions for improvement. Towards the end of last year, this led to the implementation of a major piece of development work that integrated the records of service users that move on within your service to become in-house volunteers. This work might not have brought obvious impact to our system users straight away (apart from them not having to enter that person’s details twice in separate systems), but it laid the ground for future work that we knew would be important to our clients.

We are well aware that many of our services use volunteering, both as a method for improving mental wellbeing through increasing self-esteem, but also as a route to enhancing the probability of employment. For these reasons we saw the benefit of linking the service user through the two systems (outcome recording and volunteer coordinating) within CORS, whilst maintaining separate records, offering the opportunity to witness their progress as a singular story.

Please contact Karen if you would like to talk further about what benefit these changes may have for your service or join in with the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

New Beginnings

It’s interesting that when you work with computers people think you can do everything! We have often been asked to resolve network conflicts or broadband connection speed issues, and while we try to be helpful, sometimes we just have to admit these problems are outside of our remit! We’ve had our own tests in this area recently with our web page. Having been the victim of a malicious attack we have now lost all our lovely blog posts that were so lovingly created.

Scottish Parliament

Just to recap then;

We attended the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood for a cross party group on social enterprise looking at the impact of the welfare reforms. It was really inclusive and we were even asked to sit ’round table’ at the front and join in the discussion!


Resisting Chocolate!

Resisting Chocolate!

I had to try really hard not to eat all the lovely goodies from chocolate memories, an organisation that provides employment opportunities through enterprise for people with autism. The event was a great success, and our first foray into exhibiting. We have now caught the bug because it was great talking to so many inspiring people and are due to do our next exhibition at the Third Sector conference on measuring outcomes in May, why not come along and have a chat? We’d love to see you, and you may learn something from the great speakers they have lined up.

'Take her to the Towers'

‘Take her to the Towers’

So, off to the Houses of Parliament next:

An interesting juxtaposition to attending the Scottish Parliament which I found to be wholly inclusive. This meeting was more informative in that they explained the way forward in developing an investment market for the Big Society philanthropy capital. I met some interesting people but mostly got very tired, it was a long day.

Now to the next step, I hope to keep much more up to date with things now that we have our new site and brand new identity. These are definitely exciting times for Gravitas Outcome Services CIC as we are becoming more and more in demand.