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The Pollen shop

This blog is a chronicle of the happenings, ideas and projects that float in and around The Pollen Shop.

Increasing the pool of specialist foster carers

July 4th, 2016

The Pollen Shop and Exterion Media have developed a partnership to improve the way local authorities connect with potential foster carers

Recently we have been looking at what motivates people who have some pre-existing skills and experience that may make them great foster carers but who currently don’t really understand what foster caring is all about.

These groups don’t engage with traditional fostering recruitment messaging because they are already switched off. They are however the kinds of potential foster carers who may be more likely to support children with more complex needs. Increasing the numbers of these kinds of foster carers will improve outcomes for many children who are difficult to place and help local authorities save money.

The research is at a very early stage but so far has been illuminating. It indicates that amongst people who have not considered fostering, but who have some pre-existing skills and experience, there is:

  • high awareness that fostering can be emotionally challenging but low awareness that fostering can be intellectually challenging
  • low awareness that children who require a foster placement have very different needs, and consequently foster parents with different skill sets.
  • low awareness that children with very complex needs are often adolescents rather than younger children.

An innovative partnership
Exterion Media is the market leader in Outdoor Advertising on transport networks in all local markets throughout the UK. The Pollen Shop works across social care, health care and financial services improving the way organisations connect with people that mater most to them.

Together we are generating new insight into how our clients can better target key audiences. Over the next few months we will continue to capture data, as well as developing a set of messaging tools for local authorities who want to increase their pool of specialist foster carers.

To find out more about how we can help you reach out to more foster carers please contact:

Karen Landles, Behavioural Insight Director

Gwilym Morris, Founder

Track the Act

June 20th, 2016

When the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 came into force on 6 April 2016, it brought with it significant changes in the way social services is delivered in wales. As a consequence Wales is now a very different public policy social care environment to the rest of the UK,  especially in the area of social care ‘rights’. How this translated to improvements in the experiences of people who use health and social services is of course as yet to be tested.

The Pollen Shop is now working with Carers Wales to monitor the implementation of the Act by measuring the difference the new legislation makes to carers over time.

Carers are a key fulcrum group in the delivery of health and social care. They are unpaid and often underappreciated, but without their involvement much of health and social care delivery would simply ground to a halt.

To monitor the Act we have set up a data collection process that will gather the experiential data from carers living in all of the 22 local authorities in Wales and combine this with local authority performance data. We aim to run the  “Track the Act” process over the next three years, producing a 12 month report on our findings on each anniversary of the Act coming into force on 6th April 2016 with an interim report at 6 month intervals.track the act logo

What happened to Pollination Campaigns?

January 16th, 2016

Pollination Campaigns was a specialist communications consultancy run by the some of the same people as The Pollen Shop. Clients included Department for Work and Pensions, Disability Rights Commission and The Equal Opportunities Commission (both forerunners of the Equality and Human Rights Commission) RNID, RNIB, scope sense and arrange of third sector organisations.  

The goal of Pollination campaigns was to help organisations develop relationships with the people that matter to them. One of the key groups we were often contracted to work with were hard to reach groups who were excluded from participating in the development of public policy.

Pollination Campaigns was for example responsible for engaging stakeholders in the development of the technical guidance to much of the raft of new equality legislation in the mid 2000’s.  This has now been replaced by Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), which came into force on 5 April 2011.

In the late 2000’s the work of Pollination Campaigns was subsumed into The Pollen Shop. The two organisations worked very closely and it just made sense to work through a single organisation.

Consultants Views and Perceptions on Access to New Medicine Technologies

January 16th, 2016

Research undertaken by The Pollen Shop has now been published by The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

Oncology & Haemato-Oncology: Consultants Views and Perceptions on Access to New Medicine Technologies  assessed clinicians’ perspectives on – and experience of – routine access to oncology medicines, and the effectiveness of the Individual Patient Funding Request (IPFR) process.

Reaching out to NHS consultants and getting meaningful data on their perceptions on issues such as access to new medicine is notoriously difficult. This is because as a group these kinds of specialists are time poor and have a great deal to say on the matter but are often reluctant to do so. For these reasons a structured programme of engagement was developed by The Pollen Shop and members of the ABPI Cymru Wales Oncology Therapy Group to promote the research. Data was then collected anonymously through interviews with clinicians and via an on-line portal. The research has been generally accepted by a range of stakeholders and was launched at the National Assembly of Wales.

Dr Richard Greville is Director of ABPI Cymru Wales welcomed the research on the Institute of welsh affairs website

This report was financially supported by Astellas, Boehringer Ingelheim, Celgene, Eisai, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Merck Serono, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi.


We’ve just noticed that we haven’t built a website for a while.

July 29th, 2015

The Pollen Shop has a great track record of developing brilliant websites for a wide range of organisations: from breweries to politicians, from small businesses to national charities. We’ve done e-commerce, campaigning, surveys, launches and games.

We haven’t been building websites lately because we have been busy – auditing, reviewing, commissioning, transforming and coaching. Spending time supporting global platforms or building on-line financial processes is fun but we also want to stay true to our heritage and build sites from start to finish.

If you have got an interesting project – micro site, launch pad, promotional tool, e-commerce site we would be interested in talking to you about your project.
What you will get is world class developers that would love your project.

So what are you waiting for get in touch……

Access to Oncology & Haemato-Oncology New Medicine Technologies

November 7th, 2014

The Pollen Shop is working with the ABPI to assess clinicians’ perspectives on and experience of access to medicines in Wales. This work is covering both Oncology & Haemato-Oncology.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is recognised by government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK.

The Pollen Shop offers services to public sector clients

June 6th, 2013

The Pollen Shop is now able to offer services to public sector clients through the recently announced ConsultancyOne and GCloud iii frameworks through our relationship with NTT data.


Government Procurement Service is leading the transformation of central government procurement through the centralisation, standardisation and aggregation of spend on common goods and services, to deliver sustainable cost reductions across central government.

The ConsultancyONE framework agreement is the procurement vehicle for this transformation for business and management consultancy and related services and is the mandatory route for projects within scope between £100k and £2m for Central Government customers.

For Consultancy One, clients can use

Lot 2.2 (Organisational Strategy);

Lot 3.2 (Human Resources);

Lot 3.4 (Information and Communications Technology);

Lot 5.2 (External Assurance and Advice).


G-Cloud has been developed by UK government to make it easier for companies including  SMEs to do business with Government organisations through a simpler and more efficient procurement framework.

For GCloud iii, clients can use Lot 4 (Specialise Services) which includes a wide variety of professional services, which, unlike the framework suggests, are not IT-based.


Joining Up

April 19th, 2013

the cover sheet of the Joining Up report Why people with hearing loss or deafness would benefit from an integrated response to long-term conditionsGwilym Morris -  Director of  The Pollen Shop and advisor to the ESRC funded DCAL Research Center based at UCL -  has co-authored a report looking at the issues around providing health and social care services to people who have hearing loss or who are deaf and also have other long-term conditions, including dementia, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s and sight loss.

The report published by DCAL and Action on Hearing Loss was launched at the House of Commons at a dinner hosted by Stephen Lloyd MP on the 16 April 2013.

The report discribes evidence of a strong link between hearing loss and dementia, and shows how at least £28 million could be saved in England by properly managing hearing loss in people with dementia.

Joining Up calls on health departments, commissioners and providers of health services throughout the UK to recognise hearing loss and deafness in assessing, diagnosing and managing people with other long-term conditions.

To read the full findings and recommendations from our report, please download ‘Joining up: Why people with hearing loss or deafness would benefit from an integrated response to long-term conditions’

John’s Health is in your Hands…

February 12th, 2013

John's health is in your handsWestgate Cyber Security together with The Pollen Shop have developed a behaviour change programme designed to keep people like John safe. We use the latest security information and combine it with the behaviour change techniques that work with real people.

Download Brochure (PDF 338KB)


The Road to Language Learning Is Iconic

December 4th, 2012

Languages are highly complex systems and yet most children seem to acquire language easily, even in the absence of formal instruction. New research on young children’s use of British Sign Language (BSL) sheds light on one mechanism – iconicity – that may play an important role in children’s ability to learn language.

For spoken and written language, the arbitrary relationship between a word’s form – how it sounds or how it looks on paper – and its meaning is a particularly challenging feature of language acquisition. But one of the first things people notice about sign languages is that signs often represent aspects of meaning in their form. For example, in BSL the sign EAT involves bringing the hand to the mouth just as you would if you were bringing food to the mouth to eat it.

In fact, a high proportion of signs across the world’s sign languages are similarly iconic, connecting human experience to linguistic form.

Robin Thompson and colleagues David Vison, Bencie Woll, and Gabriella Vigliocco at the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London in the United Kingdom wanted to examine whether this kind of iconicity might provide a key to understanding how children come to link words to their meaning.

Their findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The researchers looked at data from 31 deaf children who were being raised in deaf BSL signing families in the United Kingdom. Parents indicated the number of words understood and produced by their children between the ages of 8 and 30 months. The researchers decided to focus on 89 specific signs, examining children’s familiarity with the signs as well as the iconicity and complexity of the signs.

The findings reveal that younger (11-20 months) and older (21-30 months) children comprehended and produced more BSL signs that were iconic than those that were less iconic. And the benefit of iconicity seemed to be greater for the older children. Importantly, this relationship did not seem to depend on how familiar, complex or concrete the words were.

Together, these findings suggest that iconicity could play an important role in language acquisition.

Thompson and colleagues hypothesize that iconic links between our perceptual-motor experience of the world and the form of a sign may provide an imitation-based mechanism that supports early sign acquisition. These iconic links highlight motor and perceptual similarity between actions and signs such as DRINK, which is produced by tipping a curved hand to the mouth and represents the action of holding a cup and drinking from it.

The researchers emphasize that these results can also be applied to spoken languages, in which gestures, tone of voice, inflection, and face-to-face communication can help make the link between words and their meanings less arbitrary.

“We suggest that iconicity provides scaffolding – a middle-ground – to bridge the “great divide” between linguistic form and bodily experience for both sign language and spoken language learners,” says Thompson.


To learn more about Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre at University College London, please visit

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