Community Directories – It’s Time for a Change

 Community Directories and Treacle – What’s the big deal?

We all know the theory of the “butterfly effect” in chaos theory, ie that a small change in one part of a system, can have an exponentially bigger effect in a later state of that same system. I firmly believe that this can be true of organisations, not just weather patterns. Sometimes it is the smallest of changes which can make the most significant difference. I have worked as a nurse in hospitals, on ships and in community settings, all over the world, and have seen first hand how this is true. is a great example of this concept. It has made a small but significant change to the idea of a directory. (I know a very dull subject, but stay with me.)

Instead of putting organisations at the heart of the directory, it puts the user front and centre. It asks for nothing except for you to recognise what you need help with, and it does the rest. It has turned the idea of a directory on its head. This one simple change means that anyone in Bradford or Bolsover can now quickly and easily find the help and support they need.  Everything from mental health to food banks, social isolation to bereavement, the whole spectrum of social prescribing problems are simply laid out. You don’t need to enter a keyword, or know your postcode, you simply open and make a start. This small change is making waves way beyond what I expected at the start of this journey.

Our impact assessment after 12 months of working in Bradford, is that we have shown an almost £2 million social return on a very small investment.  Community directories – it’s time for a change.  To be quite honest, the message behind the Impact Report is much more interesting than the number. It is full of professionals whose jobs have been made easier and people whose lives are made healthier, because they found Treacle, and thats what gets me out of bed in the morning.

The Treacle Wheel - A community directory with the user in the centre.
The Treacle Wheel