Helping Charities to Overcome Barriers to Digital Service Innovation

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Searcys at The Gherkin

30 Saint Mary Axe



United Kingdom

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Come and join us at the iconic Gherkin in London, for our next breakfast event for Charity Digital Leaders.

About this Event

Charities need to build new digital products and services or risk getting left behind.

If you work in the charity sector, you'll know there are challenges to adopting this way of working (funding, governance, procurement, digital skills, etc.). So we've created an event to provide a platform for charities to share how they are overcoming these barriers.

You'll hear from MQ and Sue Ryder - two charities that are adopting new ways of working and transforming their service delivery in the process. They’ll share practical tips and advice, from managing procurement to getting funding; design sprints to MVP; tech choices and more.

Olly Willans, Managing Director and Dave Harris, Product Director at Torchbox, will be interviewing our speakers, including:

  • Kathryn Excell, Head of Digital, MQ - will share the process they’re going through to create a new product to engage the public in mental health research (and how this could be a major future income generation tool for the charity).
  • Lizzie Wrobel, Head of Digital, Sue Ryder - will talk about their pioneering new video counselling service, which will extend the reach of their bereavement support.

This will lead into table discussions, sharing and addressing the challenges and opportunities that you face with digital product innovation.

This event is for Heads of/Directors of Digital and Innovation at Charities (most relevant if you’re embarking on a new service innovation project). Due to the high interest in this event, we are limiting tickets to one per organisation.


8.30am - Grab a coffee, some (delicious) breakfast and mingle

9am - A welcome from Torchbox

9.15am - Q&A sessions with MQ and Sue Ryder

10.15am - Round-table discussions on key topics

10.45am - Time to wrap things up

Some feedback from our last event..

“A really thought provoking event and sparked some really useful conversations. It was great to meet you all and great to meet some new faces from the sector facing similar challenges. I look forward to the next one.”

Peter Kelly, Digital Transformation Manager, Mind

“Just wanted to say thanks for inviting me to the breakfast event yesterday. I had some useful conversations, caught up with a couple of people I only knew online or hadn’t seen for years, and the talks were more interesting than a lot of the events I’ve been too lately – plus the food was great!”

Will Howells, Head of Digital, Terrence Higgins Trust

MQ is the UK’s leading mental health research charity. They’re transforming lives through research, helping to create a future where mental illnesses are understood, effectively treated and one day prevented.

MQ’s featured project - mental health research tool

Robust research and scientific rigor require participation from those affected. Without the views and involvement of those with lived experience of mental illness, research will not address the most important issues, or be able to deliver the ground-breaking progress we desperately need.

Yet, recruiting the required numbers of participants to mental health research studies, and retaining them, are two key challenges faced by the research community. Mental health studies often struggle to recruit enough participants, and participation in mental health science lags far behind that of physical health studies. Approximately 2% of people who use specialist mental health services are involved in NHS funded research, compared to almost 20% of cancer patients.

MQ’s work with Torchbox is hoping to address this need – bridging the gap between researchers and those affected, to improve the mental health of everyone.

Meet Kathryn Excell

Kathryn joined MQ in January 2017 and leads on MQ’s digital strategy, transformation and product development.

Before joining MQ, Kathryn worked in fundraising and marketing roles for a range of different causes in the charitable sector, most recently single parent charity Gingerbread and homelessness charity Shelter. Outside of work, Kathryn is a Trustee at campaigning organisation Global Justice Now and sits on the steering group for Charity Comms events.

Sue Ryder supports people through the most difficult times of their lives. Whether that’s a terminal illness, the loss of a loved one or a neurological condition. Their doctors, nurses and carers give people the compassion and expert care they need to help them live the best life they possibly can.

Sue Ryder's featured project - online bereavement counselling service

Sue Ryder has been providing bereavement support for many years to families and loved ones of people who have died while in their care. They saw an opportunity to expand their existing bereavement support to people who didn’t already have a connection with the charity.

Following a period of market research, they also discovered that there is a considerable gap in provision of bereavement counselling and support in the UK, with long waiting lists for free services. In response to this, in May 2018 they launched a pilot online bereavement service, offering an assessment and six free sessions of counselling with a qualified bereavement counsellor.

The pilot was successful, helped to provide valuable insight and to successfully secure funding. Sue Ryder is now working with Torchbox to develop a new platform offering a more streamlined service, enhanced user experience, and a vastly improved interface for counsellors working on the service.

Meet Lizzie Wrobel

Lizzie has been leading the digital team at Sue Ryder since April 2017, covering both digital communications/engagement and digital service delivery for the organisation. Prior to that, she worked in digital roles for healthcare and NHS policy organisations, overseeing digital activity at The Health Foundation for seven years and working at The King's Fund prior to that.

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Searcys at The Gherkin

30 Saint Mary Axe



United Kingdom

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