[LIFE] Joining @REDJanuaryUK: No resolutions, just looking for challenges

Well, we know I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, right? But I do like to find challenges that work for me, and that are done in a style that I approve of!

#RedJanuary with Mind

I have joined this, because there’s a group of us in YBCN going to encourage each other on every day with an activity. To be honest, with ‘Move‘ with Beyond Chocolate, my daily Pokemon walks, and time in the gym/pool, it’s not going to mean I’m doing anything much different, but I like the way that the challenge is framed, about doing what YOU are capable of, and of the benefit to your mental health, rather than exercise as punishment for the food you ate! And it supports mental health charity ‘Mind’. I’m hoping one of these will be a first go at Open Water Swimming with Kate!


With my digital team at Manchester Metropolitan University, 8 of us will be aiming to swim 10km (between us, or more if we wish to make it more of a individual challenge) for the Swimathon – we will be opening up a sponsorship sheet for this.


My sister-in-law and niece are aiming to walk 150miles this month, so I’m considering ‘Race at Your Pace’ for a future month(s). It’s a shame that it doesn’t let you mix up the activities, but otherwise I like the idea of challenging yourself, rather than competing against others … and preferably joining with others to support and encourage each other on!


I also saw this come up in my feed today, thanks to the #YouMeBigC team, I might check that out in future.


I did this in 2005, shortly after moving to Manchester for the first time, and it turns out sponsorship from this is partly what funds the cold cap that I used so successfully. I’ve already done London, so I’d quite like to try Edinburgh (this year or next?) or Iceland, and my sister-in-law in up for joining me for that.

Macmillan: Hiking Challenges

I’d quite like to do one of these, especially one of the overseas challenges!

A friend is also planning on cycling from Manchester to the Lake District in March to celebrate 5 years cancer free. I’m not sure I’m quite I’m to the fitness levels for that?! Looks like there’s plenty of options … must try not to over-commit in eagerness!!

Cancer Event

[CANCER] Health & Wellbeing Event @TheChristieNHS

Today, I made it to a really helpful event at the Christie. Yesterday, I’d decided not to go (waiting for scan/results is exhausting, keeping yourself ‘up’), then woke up this morning thinking, this is probably exactly what I need. I was largely going because I’m hoping that our team will be funded for Macmillan research into social media/cancer, and I wanted to see the level at which dissemination took place. I found the event a good reminder of why I’ve been undertaking exercise, counselling, etc. and a reminder that many of the complex emotions whizzing through my head are pretty normal. A really nicely paced (short) day, which gave the opportunity to meet others in a similar boat, time for presentations with short sections of structured content offering opportunities to think about own situation, and some chit-chat.


[LIFE] Much walking with #BeeintheCity

Back in July, I found my first #BeeintheCity, outside work (Manchester Metropolitan University):


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Well. I remembered to come and look at my first #beeinthecity ‘To Bee or not to Bee ?’

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I remember once finding a few ‘eggs’ in London, a handful of Lambdas in Liverpool, and something else in Norwich a few years ago, but have never had the opportunity to be somewhere where I could go and find ‘all’ of a collection, but this was possible with Manchester’s Bee in the City, created by Wild in Art.

I’m not sure if I hadn’t been looking for free/gentle exercise post-cancer that I would have sought to find all the bees (and even then, I wasn’t necessarily expecting to finish), but it was a nice way to go and find new parts of the city (although some bees were surprisingly challenging to find). I’m afraid I binned my ‘plan out’ paper map as it got soaked, but the map is nicely set out so you can zone out particular areas – outside and inside the city:

Some excursions I only found one or two, other times – like walking through town for a meeting in the Northern Quarter, meant I was able to ‘collect’ several on the way through. When you find a bee, you can check into the app, and ‘unlock’ a bee (using the 4 digit number on the base of each bee):

One of the earlier ones I caught was the ‘augmented reality bee’ (see second photo):


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More #beeinthecity findings … #manchester

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There have been quite a lot of other events around the bees themselves, and it’s been really intriguing watching what has essentially been the gamification of exploring Manchester, and encouraging walking, using the joy of sharing the findings on social media! I could watch the number of bees I’d collected on the app:

The app was largely good, although it had a habit of checking you in when you clicked on a bee to see more about it, and hadn’t actually seen it, and also the map didn’t autolocate to where you were (which is something we’re used to with Google maps).

You’ll see that there were also rewards when you completed certain bees, or certain collections of bees. I wasn’t paying much attention, but the free swim at the Aquatics centre alone would more than pay for the £1.99 paid for the app (of which 50p went to charity anyway). There were other aspects of the app that I didn’t really use, including the ‘Steps’ function (as my phone does that anyway, and I often had Pokemon running whilst walking anyway).

So, Saturday, I finished finding all the bees, with help from my friend Erika, who’d already found quite a few of them, so it was less exploring, and more counting them off, but I enjoyed seeing some new bits of Manchester!

I was however, pretty good for nothing the next day, as I totally broke my ‘steps’ record since chemotherapy (most had been about 15/16k steps!):

So, for now it’s back to the Pokemon, and likely joining the PARiS scheme to build up my fitness and mental well being again!

Read more about them on Manchester Evening News, including how the artists and sites were chosen. The bees are in place until 23 September 2018, and will then be auctioned off.


[WEBINAR] on Digital Health with @DigiHealthGen

This evening I joined a webinar on ‘Digital Health’ from a Wellcome funded project. Here are my rough notes from the session:  

  • Young people are Uusing the internet to check out symptoms, working out what can/can’t do, rather than going to the GP.
  • Wellcome Trust project – just starting – re digital health generation. Emma Rich (sociology/education) and Andy Miah (currently in Korea doing stuff with the Olympics). Also Deborah Lupton – self tracking, quantification related to health, etc.
  • Students, teachers and families are the source of data collection
  • How are young people engaging with digital? Healthy citizenship, etc
  • How digital is shaping how we learn about tech and shape health practices.
  • Digital health – expansive area – instagram accounts re calories, etc. What are people doing, and what role can it be?

  • Health services can propose certain services that people can use, but people can use whatever platform they are going to use – going to use Whatsapp for data collection… not pulling people out of their habitus (less artificial)
  • Mobile is driving activity across all levels – can see this as Olympics, Samsung – collecting data, power walls, etc. already happening in some gyms, etc.

  • What data are people comfortable collecting, and what data are they comfortable sharing amongst themselves? Can create degrees of anxiety if not physically active… [Sounds like fitness evangelism….] Intimately connected to mobile devices.
  • This project is particularly interested in ‘healthy lifestyle’ technologies, rather than medical tools that e.g. track glucose … Exponential growth – difficult to navigate the range – 165k+
  • Health knowledge being produced via digital media, can also produce own health data about themselves – where does that go, decisions about future healthcare/ insurance, etc. What impact does that have on self-identity, health behaviours, etc.

  • Project came as a result of concerns about the growth of health technology, and how affecting young people’s health, etc. Data from local schools, what age, what technology, what media do they find most helpful, etc. 8-11 year old owning first digital device, though access before that…


  • Now into 2nd phase, going into 3rd phase, going into more in-depth work, ethical issues re reliability, know what’s safe, choices about what to use, what about the information they use. 3rd = live phase talking to young people as they use it, design of tech itself and how they use it… Interest in inequalities, and the context in which digital engagement takes place… technology seen as removed from rest of social/cultural context – how do e.g. family shape use, where are they when they go online, how does it shape what they use online… online/offline interaction…

  • Willingness to share (quite private) data, subjects of surveillance (what choices do they have about data being collected about them)… e.g. through digital toys – see Ben Williamson… using mobile to learn about health, but 52% survey participants were using an app to track their diet/fitness in some way – Instagram and Snapchat favourite platforms to learn about health…
  • Challenge/opportunity – who are people prepared to share data with … relations of power, who has access, etc who shares devices with other people, access/literacy/inequality… Concerns re coercion, questions about social justice – e.g. if can only get health insurance if sharing physical activity … already a live issue…

  • Area becoming increasingly complicated/expansive in its breadth. AI seen as the solution to much for the NHS? FDA approved a digital drug – medication with sensors in it – tells people how that drug is working! Questions about who owns data, what we can do with our data, etc. esp as we are limited in our access to data. Do younger generation feel more empowered, or co-erced into that world…

  • Do people go onto these kind of apps from ‘tabula rasa’ – or because they have a problem? What are the motivations – v. different – wide range. With young people … typically an issue/concern will look to digital fora for a solution.
  • Do young people share more than older people? Makes people more confident to go to GP, etc. Young people = normalised = used to tracking, engaging, etc. online, so health is not an unusual area for that …
  • Mobile devices are normalised, part of everyday life, but schools are pushing people away from using that… Schools may be using apps instead of other resources (e.g. mental health app) – how are they being drawn in in ways they haven’t before…
  • Cultural divide … secondary school now – grown up with iPhones, but teachers haven’t… A year away from digital, and it’s all changed…
  • How do you deal with the fact that major things may be missed? A lot of work connecting patient groups together … support groups = adult things, what do they do under 18s to find support? What about benefitting from the insights from 1000s of drs, rather than one human dr … long shift to go there.. NHS able to keep up with the use of this data, etc.?
  • Fatigue/boredom, 6 weeks on, people tend to abandon all kinds of apps… BIG question – ownership of own data, etc… Some only see it as needing a lock on the phone, rather than the bigger picture of what happens to data, etc.
  • More data of different kinds, can increase anxiety amongst users … difficult for many of us to make sense of what that data means… e.g. labelling overweight, etc. damaging for young people, lead to crash diets, etc. Challenging issue for the future – so many apps, and some collecting data before we even choose to do so.
  • Sleep, food, activity levels, etc every part of our life can be quantified in some way.
  • Fake news/health – aware of it becoming a big issue in last 18 months … not looked explicitly. Health related info e.g. fitness, nutrition, etc. are a significant source of fake news… diet, etc massively contested before we even get to the digital, so a challenging environment to be in ..
  • Young people reducing time going to websites, spending more time on apps, data policies unclear on how shared, etc. locked into certain spaces… Don’t know about the journey that someone goes through on a particular app… big gap in our knowledge… Anxieties – young people avid followers of e.g. fitness bloggers, trendsetters, etc. very difficult terrain to manage… demonstrating that you’re the ‘right healthy citizen’ and ‘doing the right things’ – the data and the popularity!
  • Much more visually investigated … journey into information, proliferation of channels, and no central channel which has authority. Big shift about how receive information about all kinds of things – including health, who is the voice of authority in health… [Notion of who is an expert … ]
  • Earlier research – being measured/weighed – led to hyper (self) surveillance … comparing/contrasting – ways of standing out … thinnest, healthiest, etc.. Heavily moralised…
  • As healthcare becomes more reliant on data, becomes locked into propriety systems, difficult to get out once in them … old fitbits chucked in a drawer! How to access own data, and what is happening to their data … will young people rise up and not share data any more – ‘this is the way of life’..
  • Where does the individual fit in that, where are govt discussions, etc. Priority access to healthcare if a ‘diligent healthy citizen’!
  • Should the NHS be central to digital health – is there enough joined up thinking, do they understand the issues, or are we going to have to hand data over to private companies. NHS tech challenged = not a secret! Big data companies have worked out how to make platforms that are easy to use, etc. – much more agile than NHS that tends to make use of tech just as it’s becoming redundant.. are we going to engage with health information differently?
  • Interesting – some young people still looking to the NHS for guidance…. Still the kitemark/rubber stamp.. not a library of recommended apps.. Reviewed policy documents re digital health, limited understanding – assumes that digital is empowering and that all have access, can navigate it… beyond whether can afford ‘internet access’! As gap widens, young people will experience health differently… Organisations that might push apps, etc. onto young people – how equipped are they to use them? Digital health = always the solution.

Don’t overload your schedule

Some reminders before I head to Durham that it’s an opportunity for a change of pace – aside from work that I believe in, it’s time for fun, fitness & friendship:

A great saying – what more do you need to say… but I did, on Bible-Reflections.