Homeless Hack

Recorded at Lean Agile Manchester on 21st June 2017
Kevin Murray shares with us a good cause from the Manchester digital community to help the homeless around Manchester.


So thanks Ian and welcome to Valtech. So today this isn’t a sales pitch, but it’s an opportunity for me to raise an awareness about an amazing event that’s happening at the end of the month. We’ve got the Manchester digital community coming together to organise Homeless hack. The reason we’re doing this is we’re inspired by an event that’s been going on in London for the past year or so. Actually, this weekend coming, I think led by Janet Hughes, who is one of the X leaders of GDS. There’s a homeless hack down in London. Janet put a call out on Twitter, literally a few weeks ago, to see who could do something like this in Leeds. Myself and a couple of other people have offered to organise something in Manchester and this is only in the past couple weeks. We’re ready to go at the end of this month.

So why are we doing this? Well, it’s a problem that’s literally on our doorstep. Homelessness and rough sleeping. I took that picture this morning. It’s heartbreaking. And what we’re … There’s been a lot of information in the press. Rough sleeping has quadrupled since 2010. Even in the past year it’s increased by 41%. So this is a problem that is right on our doorstep. Particularly if you are in the Northern quarry, something that’s right on the doorstep of a lot of Manchester digital organisations. I’ve got personal connections as well. Through a series of strange circumstances, my little brother is now homeless. The amount of rent required in the private sector is just extortionate and there’s a complete lack of social housing. So technically my brother is waiting to get social housing and is effectively homeless.

So what we’re doing is were hosting this hacker fund. And I’ll tell you about it. The purpose of this hacker fund, these are the words of Hillary Stevenson, to bring together people with a mix of skills and expertise to come up with a range of ideas and prototypes. And then it’s not just two days of having fun. We actually want to make these ideas happen. And to do that we are engaged in some charities that are helping as well. So what we want to do is build upon the fantastic work that’s already happening on our doorstep. We talked about the problem that is happening, but there’s already some amazing stuff. Street Support are an amazing charity. Go check out their website.

For people like us, what they actually do, they got a product backlog so you can go on and actual contribute to their product backlog. It’s a fantastic organisation. The only reason this event is actually happening is because Street Support are involved and they are going to be playing a significant role. We’ve also got Nacho Soup and the Kennedy Trust to do some really highly visible work. So the Hacker fund is from Friday morning, Friday the 30th. On the Friday we are going to go three to 12 o’clock, and resume, probably after a few beers, on the Saturday. There will be some high profile judges and the idea is to come up with some … It’s the ideas that count that make a different.

But the reason I’m saying this is I need some help from everyone here. So I’m not doing this talk for my own purpose. I need a little bit of help. I need a few favours. We’ve got 80 spaces and as of five o’clock there was eight left. I can’t guarantee that there’s going to be any by the end of this session, but certainly it’s nearly sold out. And just to make it clear, you don’t have to be a developer. That puts a lot of people off. We’re looking for creative, we’re looking for business analysts, we’re looking for UX specialists. Anybody that can help. Any body that can make a difference would be fantastic.

If you can’t make, and that’s completely understandable. It’s short notice. It’s a weekend. The weathers fantastic. Where you can really make a difference, and helpers, if you can come up with ideas for challenges. Hacks works because people can set the challenges, set the constraint. So we set the board up over there. We got some post its. While you’re listening to everyone else and while you’re socialising at the end. If you can come up with an idea that effects … that could impact rough sleeping or homelessness. Those ideas. Anything will be considered. Really appreciate that.

Also, hacker funds only work if we have real data. Representative data. So if you can come up with any ideas of any data or any open API’s, or if you have any closed data that you can donate, that would be fantastic. Again, stick them on the board. They’d be very appreciated. And if you follow the event, it will be hashtag Homeless Hack, if you follow the event over the weekend. Do some retweets. Just raise the awareness of the profile and the problem would be greatly appreciated. Also, event donations. So this is actually organised by a number of companies, but Manchester digital is at the heart of it. They’re an amazing organisation. So between ourselves and Sigma, Street Support, Manchester digital, we’re bringing this together. But if anyone wants to contribute and help out, what I’ll do is I’ll put the links of the Manchester Digital event in the meet up group.

And also just to say a quick thank you to the amazing people who have already made a difference with the homelessness partnership. Manchester Digital, they do a great job in the community anyway. They’ve been brilliant here. Street Support. But also hail for Sigma and Val tech who will be hosting this space.

So, that’s it for me. Thank you.

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