Week 10: Communities Defined…and Implemented

Andy Bell
Published in
3 min readApr 27, 2021


As we reach the end of SIDE Labs’s 10-week Communities Definition programme, I was absolutely delighted in the final show and tell. What a buzz to see the progress made by our six charities.

Wow... is it really the final show and tell?

What have we made together?

Intergenerational Music Making

IMM had made a Spoonful of Music — An intergenerational NHS music project, using Zoom to connect young musicians with geriatric patients.


Back Up had developed a live online session giving family members the chance to learn more about life after spinal cord injury, using Zoom and EasyGenerator.

Gilly at Catalyst said:

Amazing to see how you and IMM have both approached this programme as an overall ‘service design’ challenge, using digital to enable you to deliver your services. Brilliant presentations!


Facilitated peer-to-peer support for families with children and young people with complex medical needs, via a Facebook group.

Gilly at Catalyst said:

This is such a lovely story of reuse and taking a really user-led approach. And I love the fact that Facebook is footing the bill rather than you having to spend the money on building an app to give you the functionality you need.

Margate Bookie

Created a space online for writers to do what they previously did in real life: supporting their creative process via Slack and Google Docs.

Gilly at Catalyst said:

Really exciting and so pleased that your experience has been positive and that you had such great feedback from the users.


Improved the information architecture of their core offerings, via a series of website iterations.

Gilly at Catalyst said:

Really love your approach to iteration. Dealing with a website redesign can feel like a huge, overwhelming challenge. But seeing how you’ve really focussed and prioritised is great.


Cataloged ACRE members’ use of digital applications, via crowd-sourced interactions on a Coda app.

Gilly at Catalyst said:

Really love this solution. Had you started using Coda.io before this programme or have you set all this up recently?


Prize names don’t have to alliterate… OK, they do!

No one goes away empty-handed! Everyone gets a certificate.

Final reflections

The effort/impact non-correlation

As a no-coder, it always surprises me how there is little relation between the effort that goes into a solution and the impact of that solution.

90% of the benefit of the work we did with Well Child came from pressing one button.

This might sound like I am undervaluing the pushing of a button. Far from it! Once you’ve found the right button to press, it can unblock a team and set them on a new trajectory.

Communities are so many different things

The six different projects were using seven different bits of software:

  • Zoom
  • Zoom + EasyGenerator
  • Facebook Groups
  • Slack + Google Docs
  • Wix
  • Coda

In real life, the word ‘community’ refers to something pretty tangible. When we translate that to software, it can mean so many different sorts of interactions. And each interaction is best supported by a different platform.

Facebook Groups is actually pretty good

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Facebook Ad Manager. It is so buggy and unintuitive, it makes me want to stick pins in a Mark Zuckerberg doll.

On the other hand, Facebook Groups is really clear, easy, and has lots of good features. Highly recommended for anyone starting a new community.

The vibrancy of the Third Sector

What a broad range of missions we’ve seen! Whether it’s back injuries or sick children, vulnerable Middle Eastern women or rural communities… it is a privilege to witness this slice of the social action across the UK.



Andy Bell

Co-founder at sidelabs.org: Social Impact Digital Explorers. Working on HelpFirst.ai