Crisis UK - Homelessness Charity Resources and Reports

Crisis Plan.png

I have been a volunteer with Crisis UK in Birmingham since February 2017. I am very impressed with their research and campaigning to end homelessness in the UK. They have a fantastic learning programme to help 'members' (our term for homeless individuals) get off the street, out of hostels, B&B's, sofa surfing, stop sleeping in cars and other places and back into employment and a decent house to live in.

I am creating this blog post with a series of links to reports and resources to assist anyone to understand homelessness better. This way I can just share this link and you can learn more by downloading the reports or listen to the radio programmes, watch the videos etc.

I hope the resources will prove useful for you and your friends and family to better understand the plight of the homeless and maybe you can share a few minutes to create awareness in your network and community, donate a few pennies, spend a few hours per month donating your time for the many charities that exist across the UK.  I appreciate your interest and curiosity to learn more. I will continue to add further resources as I become aware of them, so make sure to bookmark this page.

  1. Join the #everybodyin campaign and pledge your support.

  2. 10 year plan to end homelessness in the UK executive summary

  3. 10 year plan to end homelessness full report

  4. Rough sleepers’ experiences of violence and abuse on the streets of England and Wales

  5. An examination of the scale and impact of enforcement interventions on street homeless people in England and Wales

  6. The creation and use of better evidence for a world without homelessness - Centre for Homelessness Impact

  7. Understanding the models of Housing First in England

  8. The picture of Housing First in England

  9. About Housing First England (website)

  10. Homelessness and Addiction: Getting Clean & Off the Streets

  11. A home for as long as someone needs it, as well as meaningful work in our social enterprises, by Emmaus.

  12. The big idea that can help end homelessness.

  13. The Stingray, a model and platform to utilise and repurpose unused and derelict public houses.

  14. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 - All you need to know.

  15. Counting the deaths of homeless people around the UK

I've moved to Medium


I've got 3 publications there so far. Medium allows me to be freer then I am able to be on either my own website blog or here on LinkedIn. There are other writers there who write great stuff, so I'm learning much more too. It allows me to have different publications, it feels a bit like having a book there, the book of me. I really enjoy being on Medium. Hope to see you there.


This is a daily blog post, quite short and to the point. It's basically about stuff I notice across the digital and the physical, which makes me want to make a statement.

Michael and Josh

This is our daily cartoon series. Well we publish on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I try and look out for topics in the daily news and take some sort of spin on it.

Staying Alive UK

Well this one was basically a copy cat from this blog, so not been updating that much lately. Will have to think where this one goes in the future.

Hope to see you all there!





How do you know if you are being authentic?


This article was inspired by my LinkedIn connection Rebecca Bell, who posted an update about the case of self-proclaimed titles, like ‘Thought Leader’, 'Influencer’ or ‘Visionary’.

See the post below.

The discussion has been fascinating and you can see how many likes and comments are clocking up on this topic, it really has never-ending opinions.

This topic has touched a nerve with many and it’s making me wonder why do we try and big ourselves up so much. Is it because we need that recognition to feel good about ourselves? Is it because the world around us has conditioned us to claim titles for ourselves, so we can be seen by others as important and they will believe in us?

Most of us have heard the saying ‘people buy people first’ and that means someone has to be in your company, face to face (or at least a video call) before this can take place. But because we now spend most of our time in the digital world, the non-physical, we are making up our own non-sense titles to impress and be bought by our connections and sometimes to manipulate search results too. 

Have you ever heard anyone at a networking meeting say. Hello my name is Michael and I’m a visionary or I’m a thought leader or I’m an influencer. Probably not. Recently I was invited to connect to someone who calls themselves a 'Business Maven'. Who encouraged him/her to use this title to suggest that they are maybe better than you or me, better qualified than anyone else to be an expert in the world of business?

A better description, title or headline for any of us would be:

'Have learnt everything I know from others and therefore thank you to all for the great lessons'. 

Because when we came into this world, we knew diddly-squat, nothing, absolutely nothing. Everything and I mean everything we know we had to learn from others. Sure we put our own spin on it and we create some amazing technology because we may think of a different approach to others, but really every tiny bit of knowledge we own, someone gave it to us.

So let's be more humble, grateful for what we know and NEVER proclaim that we are better than anyone else, NEVER!


What’s your story’s formula?

Every great story ever told has a formula. These days we might like to call it an algorithm, a story algorithm.

Ever since I decided to major on whiteboard animation stories as my mission, I have been attracting more knowledge from the people in my network. 

One such attraction was Michael-Don Smith (Don), someone I’ve been connected to for 7 years. We met recently again at a networking event and he mentioned Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey (1949). And no I had not heard of it, remarkably!

(The word Hero in this article is being referred to a gender neutral form, which is allowed apparently, I looked it up!)

There are other story algorithms that came after, David Adams Leeming (1981), Phil Cousineau (1990), Christopher Vogler (2007).

And when I researched it, it made just perfect sense, something I naturally had adopted in my whiteboard animation stories for clients and now I had confirmation that my story approach was 100% correct. A polite pat on my own back and I know I have loads to learn still.

I will explain briefly. Every great story told tells the journey of hero. Their quest and their obstacles and villains to defeat. Pretty much like life itself really. Maybe that’s why we can all relate so well to stories. They all follow 3 basic steps and then more steps within those as per the table below.

But for us to really be drawn into the story, it will pivot back and forth between what is and what could be. There really is no point of a story to start with the hero, starting their quest, defeating the villain and then going back home. That would be too predictable and too easy. The hero will have several obstacles to face, making us believe that it’s almost impossible to come back from those. Every time the hero overcomes an obstacle or defeats a villain another one comes around the corner. 

We all love it that the hero has an almost impossible task to achieve and somehow, some way it manages to survive and come back from the dead, in some cases literally.

That’s why we all love movies so much, especially the biggest blockbusters, whether Star Wars, Harry Potter, Avatar and many many more. 

Now let’s take The Hero’s Journey into your own world. If you are in business or have a role in sales or marketing, your mission is to become a better storyteller. If you know that everyone and I do mean everyone loves stories then you already know that your clients will love stories too, it's a given.

We already know that most of us do not like the adverts and yes some of them are clever little stories too. Not all of them though, next time you’re watching TV just observe and count how many are stories and how many are just ‘buy me’ messages.

Awareness is the first step and although most of us are reluctant to change to start with, when we finally decide to change we will conquer our fears. 

Practice makes perfect.

Start by writing a short story about your product or service. Place a hero as the main character in your story, how was your hero affected by the problem or the obstacle being faced, present a couple more issues on top of the first one and then present how your hero overcame all of those obstacles by using your product or service. 

Often there is no need to share the full detail of your product or service and how it solved your hero's issue, it is enough to just imply it. Leaving people wanting more is often a good thing.

Try it out, send me your draft and I will be happy to critique it.

Success with your new story!


ps. Saw this great TEDx talk titled the magical science of storytelling

Is your Intention purely Self-congratulatory or is it Selfless?

@LinkedIn & @gapingvoid

@LinkedIn & @gapingvoid

When browsing the internet, my apple news app and the social media networks, the content speaks volumes.

The content largely is self-congratulatory, especially on Facebook. There is very little value in the content that gets posted whether by the news media, your friends, colleagues and the hundreds of strangers that you are connected to. 

Everyone is trying to distract us from our attention in the moment and engage with their story, bring us into their world view and opinions. Mostly it's #fakenews and sucks us in to express a like, heart, laugh, cry, wow or mad, and if we can be bothered, write a comment. 


Whether you believe the research or not, they say it takes you 25 minutes to return to the original task after only an 11 minute interruption. That is an absolute age, have you ever tried to sit still for 25 minutes? It's impossible and lasts a very very long time. 

So why do we do this to ourselves?

Don't get me wrong, I like social media, I really do, well maybe I did and I am starting to wonder how much time I have actually wasted on social channels, whereas I could have been creating some fabulous stuff and change my life for the better?

Realising that social isn't going away soon I have started to re-assess my activity there. I used to post 3 times per day via my favourite scheduling app, Buffer, but now I only post once per day. I paid for the 'awesome plan' so that I could have all my channels there and post to all of them and now I just have the free plan with only a few channels to post to. I continually had to search for new and interesting content from other channels, I even have a feedly account to locate all that content. The stress of having to keep finding content was crazy at times, when I saw my buffer of content emptying, I panicked and had to spend a few hours to find more stuff to load it up. I am feeling like a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders by not having to do that any longer.

But did it actually work and did I get a return on my investment. I never truly know whether it did or not and my hunch is that it probably didn't. My engagement is no better or worse as a result of reducing my content sharing. 

So what about the way forward? Pretty much as the image says really.

  1. Be impartial.
  2. Inform next steps and offer guidance.
  3. Answer questions.
  4. Solve problems.
  5. Listen, respond and be helpful.
  6. Make people smile, laugh and sometimes give them pause.
  7. Design engagement and customer journeys across screens, platforms and networks so they are seamless.
  8. Create experiences that are delightful, memorable and shareable.

How about you, what have you noticed?


Do you really believe you’re getting better at it?

@LinkedIn & @gapingvoid

@LinkedIn & @gapingvoid

Depends what you’re talking about right?

Well, I am talking about the quality of your content. If the stats are right and I have no reason to believe they are not, then you and me are checking our phones 110 times a day.

I seriously can’t think of 110 things that I have looked at on my phone, can you? I certainly haven’t shared 110 things. The other day my darling wife Clair received her year in review by Facebook. I don’t get one by the way, because I’m not active enough there! Anyway, her most interesting stat was that, over the year, she had liked 13,500 posts. Averaged out over 365 days, that is 37 posts each and every day and that means some days she will have liked much more and some days much less.

If you are a Marketer, a Social Seller, a Writer, a Digital Native, a Coach, a Trainer and more, you undoubtedly be looking at the Social Web to get noticed, to be heard and be searching for engagement.

Just consider the attention span of your readers. They essentially have about a split second, like a ‘Formula 1’ racing car split second to make up their minds, whether your content is worth engaging with.

I bet you haven’t even read this far. And if you have do tell!

I’m wondering if you’ve even realised how quick you check your phone and ‘thumb’ through the content. How much do you actually retain and what grabs your attention to want to engage with it? Not much right? So have a think, what does actually make you stop and read further. Is it a video, a great image, the crafty and sneaky headline, the compelling question or the incredibly useless tip list? Or maybe it’s just good old regular dogs, cats and food. Yep food is a strange one, really it is, but obviously it’s something we’re totally consumed by, food!

Right then did you get the answer yet? What engages you?

I’d love to learn and I am sure you would to, so help me and all the other marketers out there, share your answer below.

LinkedIn created a brilliant eBook with my favourite illustrator. @gapingvoid (Hugh Macleod) creates the most amazing messages through his illustrations. Read more about him and @gapingvoid here:

Regularly I will share one of the articles and illustrations from the eBook and give you my opinion, interpretation, insight and my meaning.

@stayingaliveuk 🚀

contentmarketing #content #socialmedia #engagement #marketing #socialselling

Online is great and talking is even better. Everyone’s ultimate goal in business and life is to make real connections, where you meet someone face to face. Before that meeting a conversation is the ultimate icebreaker. I value my LinkedIn connections and realise that I don’t really know you or what your goals are and how I might facilitate or support those goals. Feel free to click through and book a call with me. I have blocked out only Fridays each week, excluding holidays, for calls. Hope to speak with you soon.

Originally published on Medium

HELP! Older Generation targeted by Computer Virus Scammers based in India

We all receive unsolicited calls from companies trying to sell us stuff. And although we can protect ourselves with ’telephone preference service’ in the UK, companies that call us from overseas are not bound by the same regulations as UK companies. 

When I received a call from an overseas company pretending that they were aware of a computer virus, allegedly on my PC, I decided to record the call and explore exactly what it was that was wrong with my computer.

You can listen to several calls below. Just press play.

It was particularly interesting to me because they told me that they were Microsoft Certified specialists and as I'm a Mac user I was interested to learn how they knew that I had a virus on my computer.

After I recorded the call I uploaded the call on Mixcloud and shared it on Social Media. When someone on Facebook asked me for the Mixcloud link some months later as she too had been targeted by them, I discovered that an ex-employee of the company had shared his experience of working for the company and shared the company’s contact details openly including two of their directors' names and phone numbers.

To read his post just follow the link below to the Mixcloud recording.

The person who contacted me on Facebook asked me how we could make use of Social Media to get this company and its directors brought to justice? She has assisted me with this blog and will be giving it exposure across her network.

So this Blogpost is our attempt to get as much publicity around this scam as possible. Would you like to help us? We need this trending on Twitter for the proper authorities, the press and TV to take notice.

Here are a few options for you to share this blogpost via Social Media.

  1. Tweet this article using the following text: 'investigate urgent #pcvirus #scam @BBCwatchdog @actionfraudUK @ofcom @ICOnews @ScamWarners #askpcxperts' CLICK TO TWEET

  2. Ask others to retweet and tweet their own version too.
  3. Post on your Facebook page the shortened blogpost link: and ask your friends to share and re-post as well.

Let's use the power of Social Networking to get this company investigated by the proper authorities and stop them from causing problems for an older generation who are far too nice and trusting based in the UK, USA and Canada.

If you're outside the UK, please ensure you report them to the proper authorities in your country.

We did further research on social media to see if the company had any profiles and found the following accounts. I have no idea if they are real. I suggest that we report the profiles to the Social Networks.

When you report them use the following text. 

'I would like to bring to your attention that this company's profile represents a company in India that carries out bogus calls to the UK, USA and Canada telling computer users that they have a computer virus. We are reporting them to the proper authorities but I suggest you remove their profile from your network'.

1.  Twitter:

2.  Facebook:

3.  Linkedin:

I found some further evidence that ASK PC Xperts and United e-Services are one and the same company by further web research. United e-Services was mentioned in the ex-employee's post. The address details certainly appear to match. Below are some web images from a directory search and a job advert.

Thank you for your support!

Additional information:

Domain details:

Teenager says: 'Sorry, I forgot...'


We all know that teenagers are wonderful people, they are the engineers of the future, the brilliant leaders of the world, the amazing inventors and very clever scientists. We value them and we respect them, well most of the time...

My brain goes purple with rage when I hear them say:

oh sorry I forgot, you know what my memory is like, I just didn't remember...

Why? Because in today's digital world there is absolutely no excuse for anyone, and I mean anyone who has a digital device to forget anything ever.

Teenagers, in the western world at least, have phones, iPods, iPads, iPhones, Androids, Computers, Laptops, Tablets, Kindles, Blackberries and many other digital devices.

All of these devices have something in common and that is they have apps like calendars, notes, tasks and reminders.

Why are they not using these tools?

Every parent and teacher needs to remind their teenage darlings that it's about time that they started using the devices for memory joggers or they will take those expensive devices away from them for ever, not just for a few days.

There should never ever, ever never, never never, ever ever never be an excuse to forget stuff that they are just to lazy to want to remember. It's too convenient to say ’I forgot’, it just doesn't wash anymore.

Remember they have to learn and remember tons of stuff at school and colleges to get through exams and get good grades. They are brilliant at doing this and they do actually remember huge amount of data in their young lives. They are actually much better than adults in doing this because they have to practice remembering stuff every day.

Time to hand out some tough love then, they either start using their devices also for remembering stuff instead of texting, instagramming, tweeting and chatting or they lose them.

Oh and just in case they don't have a digital device, remember pencil and paper?

Go on you can do it.

Do you Appreciate Diversity in Social Media?

I engage with dozens of individuals each and every week and discuss the merits or otherwise of Social Media. Nowadays the workplace consists of different generations all trying to work together to fulfill a company’s mission.

The trouble is most of us don't have a clue how we can ensure that all the different generations get on together, let alone catering for them in the social media stakes.


Let me share what I mean in a bit more detail.

Born between 1925-1945, you're a traditionalist, 1946-1964 and you are the famous baby boomer, the largest population group on earth. Gen X 1965-1979, Gen Y 1980-2000 and Gen Z 2001-now.

If you're a traditionalist you may already be retired or you will be in a mentoring and/or chairing capacity or very likely to be working in the 3rd sector.

As a traditionalist you value respect above all else. So being mentioned in a tweet incorrectly, accused of some wrong doing, you’ll be on the phone to your lawyer promptly. Not being shown respect is a major issue for you.


Baby boomers really value relationships. That's probably why this group is one of the largest on Facebook, which in essence is a massive relationship community.

Believe it or not Gen X value life/work balance and these will be CEO’s who tell their teams to leave on time and spend more time with their families, making them more productive at work and satisfied with life. Social Media more than likely is a way to relax for them. Something traditionalists and boomers would never even consider as relaxing!

Gen Y, want to be heard, they are likely to be the most prolific on twitter, making their opinions known to the world and feel happiest when they receive likes or retweets. It means someone’s listening to them.

Gen Z, are too young I know, but watch out, they will be there soon and despite age restrictions on social networks, they've already been active for a couple of years and by the time they get to work, they will have been active for 7 years or so.

Most of us have only been active for a few years!

With all of these different generations working side by side, you can learn a huge amount about them from just watching their social network activity or maybe even the lack thereof.

It allows you some insight into how they relate to the other generations too.

Would you put a Boomer alongside a Gen X and get them to learn from each other or do you let all the Gen X and Y’s sit together in a pool and feed of each other?

Respecting diversity is important in communities, appreciating how they behave on social media, with some of THE largest communities on the globe, is becoming even more important.

Wishing you massive success always.



How Do You Share Content?

As part of your journey into ’Social Selling’ and becoming your own ’Personal Brand’, you will inevitably need to share content. You don't always need to write your own content, although it’s obviously better if you did. Not everyone likes writing, certainly it took me a few years before I started blogging.

So curating and sharing other’s content is OK, providing it adds value to your own authority on your subject matter.

So how do you do it? Or rather how do I do it?

First we have to answer a few questions. Why share content in the first place?

Well, it shows that you are interested in your subject matter and more importantly that you wish to share it with your network and maybe, just maybe they will get something from it. Don't be concerned about not receiving any comments, likes or shares, that should definitely NOT be the reason for sharing your content.


However they might and it's that possibility that should encourage you to keep sharing. You just don't know where it could lead to.

I use just 3 apps for doing all my curating and sharing.

Firstly the best sharing app that I use is ’Buffer’.

I have written a separate blog on buffer, so go ahead and read more about it there.

The second app is Flipboard, where I follow different streams that are closely connected to my subject matter, plus all the posts from people I follow.

The third app is ’Pulse’, a LinkedIn app, which allows me to find more content, by LinkedIn Influencers and many other news streams.

Buffer allows me to email all content I find on the web, either via these apps or generally on the web.

I have set my buffer to share the content 3 times per day, meaning my content is posted automatically in the morning, lunchtime and evening. Times of the day that people are most likely to browse their mobile devices.

I will add additional content now and again on a more spontaneous basis. And I also add some personal comments now and again about any subject I wish. This will hopefully show people that it's not all about business and they will see my personality come through too.

So it's time to start writing, get searching, reading and finally sharing. Have fun and ensure that you have your audience in mind when sharing content.

Wishing you success always!

Blogs that wear Clogs...

I have done it, I have resisted doing it for months, but finally I have opened a hosting account with the brilliant and transferred from a ".com" Wordpress account to a ".org",  And I am delighted with it. Because now I am in charge of my own destiny, and able to make use of the thousands of plugins for Wordpress, develop true social integration and if need be mess with HTML and embed code, when I fancy.

It's quite incredible to think that only a few years ago, creating a website or blog was the domain of web developers, graphic designers, charging "an arm and a leg" to create a website for you.  But now the website is free and the hosting is a just a few pounds per month.  This makes it incredibly cost effective for anyone to have their own website and more importantly be in charge of their own updating as well.

Their is a huge amount of training available either through Wordpress and many others who have created hours of video or tutorials to help you develop your own learning of Wordpress.  And it's all free!  All you need is a bit of courage and a friendly help desk in who give all their telephone support for free to get your hosting up and running.

The other thing I have learnt as part of my Social Media journey, is that blogs are more important then having a standard brochure website.  It means you can be more engaging with your audience, it allows them to understand better what the company is about and what they are up to, through reading or subscribing to their blogs.  Obviously if you are selling via the web then that is different.

Therefore my suggestion is to ditch the website, create an engaging series of videos (we can help with that), which talk about your business and create a "weblog" instead of a "website".

Most of the information you can include on a weblog is the same, it is just displayed differently, no difficult navigation buttons, just a simple clean layout is what is required and I hope that this is what I have managed to achieve here.

I have noticed that a lot of the latest websites have gone for this very clean, white and open design.  And I do like it, because it means my eyes are not distracted from lots of stuff on the site.  Hopefully it means that the viewer will stay on the site longer and will be more interested in making an enquiry.

Anyway I hope you like it and please feel free to leave me some feedback and share the site by using the social media toolbar at the bottom of this weblog.

And if you need any assistance in doing the same, you know where I am!