Doing it for the kids…

Monday, February 9th, 2015



It’s the time of year when it feels like everyone is training for a marathon, cycling across the country or going for a month without booze. All great things to do of course, but often the benefits for the person doing them – becoming thinner and healthier – come before the money they raise for a good cause.


Listen, the telephone fundraising agency that we work with on much of our mobile stuff, are doing something totally lovely – and totally selfless.They’ve pledged to donate thousands of pounds to help save the Damilola Taylor Trust.


The Trust was set up in the memory of schoolboy Damilola Taylor, and works to better the chances of young people living in inner city communities. Despite the amazing work they do, sadly they’re facing closure due to a lack of funds. So Listen donated £25,000 to help keep the charity up and running. They’re now aiming to raise a further £20,000 by March – and will match any gifts they receive.


It goes without saying that they’re doing a wonderful thing. Ten-year-old Damilola wanted to be a doctor but he never lived to fulfill his dream. With the help of the Trust, other children will grow up to be the people they wish to be – and a little boy’s death can come to mean something more than just a senseless tragedy.


There’s now just a few weeks left until March, so please dig deep if you can. You can donate by visiting



Diagnosed in a flash…

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Retinoblastoma can be spotted with flash photography


The other week Emily wrote a brilliant post about a simple app assisting blind people in their daily lives. Here’s another great idea I saw that also harnesses the power of your mobile phone – in an even simpler way – to make a real difference to someone’s sight.


The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) is a little known charity with a small group of supporters. With a limited budget and an urgent need to increase awareness, they recently developed an innovative campaign explaining how to detect Retinoblastoma – a life-threatening eye cancer that affects young children.


I was skeptical another app was on the cards when I saw, “everyone has the tool to detect Retinoblastoma in their pocket” in the promo video. But then came the interesting bit.


All you need to do is take a photo of the eye – with the flash on, and the pupil appears white if it is affected by Retinoblastoma. This simple piece of technology, at everyone’s disposal, is all it takes. It reminded me that creating something innovative doesn’t have to be complicated and entirely new to the audience.


CHECT poster CHECT poster CHECT poster


And rather than just tell you, CHECT asks you to try it out for yourself. They’ve used special inks to recreate the effect when you take a photo of the eye in the poster – engaging the audience immediately. And, as we know from campaigns like Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s ‘Five signs’, if something encourages interaction from the get-go it’s far more likely to stay in people’s minds.


Given the constraints, this is a brilliant campaign. If just one child is diagnosed with Retinoblastoma and given the treatment they need, I think every second and penny spent on it, will be worth it.




Friday, January 16th, 2015

On the whole, I’m not a huge fan of apps. They tend to lure me into time-wasting, or I use them a couple of times before they sit on my homescreen, gathering virtual dust. So I wasn’t surprised to read that as many as 1 in 5 apps are used once and then never again (thanks for sharing, PdG).
But I really hope that’s not the case for Be My Eyes.
This new app connects blind people with sighted volunteers from around the world. Using video chat, the blind person can request assistance from a sighted person, to help with anything from knowing the expiry date of food or medicine, to navigating unfamiliar surroundings.
We’re always trying to think of clever ways to utilise existing technology at Open so the simplicity of this idea – and the fact that it’s just making use of your smartphone’s camera – really struck me.
But not only that, the process is quick, straightforward and instantly rewarding. And engaging people in these small gestures – where they can see exactly who they’re helping – could one day lead them to something bigger.
Now, an app that makes life easier for a whole community, and connects you directly with the person you’re helping, is something I can get behind.