Hannah Muirhead works for the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU). She’s been one of our longest standing Fixed Desk Members and even had her job interview in the Pod Space! Cleo and Hannah chatted about local authorities, blog posts and wine thermometers.
“I’ve never needed something that hasn’t been at my grasp: from staplers to wine thermometers, there’s a coffee grinder now, I mean.”
Can you tell me a bit about LGiU and what you do?
We are a local government think tank, an independent body. Our members are local authorities and other public bodies; we do research and write papers, reports and news bulletins about local government. In a nutshell, our members get information from us to enable them to provide public services in the local area more effectively.
You have 35 members, are they all local authorities?
Most of them are local authorities, we have two thirds of the local authorities in Scotland as members. The rest are public bodies, charities, that sort of thing. Scottish Government just joined! Anyone that has an interest in local government and wants our information. We also have reciprocal members who write for us and get access to our content for free. We help each other out.
How would you sum up the difference your work makes to peoples’ lives?
We recently worked out a statistic about how many people live in the local authorities that get our services, it turned out that 80% of the population of Scotland live in local authorities that are members. There’s no hard evidence that sees a person’s life has been effected by us. But, generally, it’s thought that the councils that are members, their employees are getting all our bulletins. That might be affecting policy decisions they make or just the way they think and then influencing the decision the local authority makes. That kind of changes person x’s life and the services he gets from local government too, or how he accesses them. We hope that they’re using the information to do useful things.
So our subscribers have more information at their fingertips to help them do their jobs and provide services.
Have you worked with anyone you’ve met at The Melting Pot?
Yes, Mairi (Campbell-Jack – Religious Society of Friends) wrote a blog for us about military visits in schools and Cass(ian Hall – Tin Can Telephone) I think has just written for us about coworking on behalf of The Melting Pot. It’s mainly been blog related collaboration but we’re open to other things, we’re always looking for briefing writers!
Do you think you’ve received peer support from the Members of The Melting Pot or TMP itself over the last year?
Yeah! There’s the specific situations where you want to know how to do something and someone’s literally told you how to do it. And just, like, proof reading things for each other. Problem solving! It’s helped me understand something that I didn’t before.
Is there anything you think is missing from The Melting Pot?
No. Well, when I discovered you had a wine thermometer I figured that there is actually everything you could possibly need here. I’ve never needed something that hasn’t been at my grasp: from staplers to wine thermometers, there’s a coffee grinder now, I mean.
Do you think you’ve learnt new skills as a result of being at TMP?
Yeah, many. Football for a start. I think it’s been good for conversationally conversationalising. Both networking and just chatting to people and not just blanking them. I still blank people, but less often.
Do you think that working in a place like The Melting Pot helps you understand where the work of your organisation fits into the area of social innovation?
Yeah, I guess ‘cause you can kind of see like the other side almost because what we do is very entwined with policy and government. It helps to understand what your information is being used for. Are these people informed? Well they could be more informed. They’re the sort of people that could be benefitting from the kind of research we’re doing.
What is your favourite thing about being a member of The Melting Pot?
The free food that I get.
And something more heart warming…
The community spirit, the people around me that chat to me every now and then.
The Melting Pot celebrates its 10th birthday on Friday 10 October.