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Creative capers at Alive workshops with badgers, ducks and animated stoats… 

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Creative capers at Alive workshops with badgers, ducks and animated stoats… 

At Alive, we run workshops with clients and comms groups, sharing our approach to creativity and showing how others can make it a part of their working lives…

This series of posts shares the thoughts and experiences of those who’ve attended along with their top takeaways.

We’re kicking off with the lovely Katie Loates, Internal Communications Manager at Hampshire Fire and Rescue.

Over to you, Katie…

What made you seek out a creativity workshop for you and your team?

We have a culture within Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) to strive for the best and to always look for ways we can improve. I think it comes from our frontline staff and the service they provide for our communities, ensuring they provide the best service and care for people.

When you see this in action its infectious. Our team work closely with our frontline staff for both our internal and external communications, so we naturally want to make sure we support them in the same way.

We’ve found for us to be able to do the above effectively, we need to make sure we provide space for our team and spend time together being ourselves. Getting out of the everyday, doing something different and focusing on ourselves can be so powerful and inject; energy, ideas and new ways of thinking.

Why Alive?

We have been to several sessions and presentations run by Alive and have always been so impressed with how engaging they are. I always come away full of ideas that I can’t wait to take back to the team and put into action. If I see Alive are presenting at an event I will attend the event.

When we’ve used Alive for our team days they have always been met with great success too, thoroughly engaging and thought provoking.

What were the most memorable bits?

  1. The badger, definitely the badger

Alive ran a team session for us at a fantastic treehouse in the New Forest. While setting up the room we found a cupboard with a stuffed badger that took pride of place throughout the session as the team mascot. 🙂

  1. Our rubber ducks

We love our ducks, they’re a great reminder to check that you’re taking that creative time. It sounds odd but I used to feel I needed permission to take this time, it almost felt that if I wasn’t at my desk constantly working on something I was almost slacking and not working. I knew this wasn’t the case but taking that creative time almost felt wrong. It was Alive that reaffirmed that this wasn’t the case and that in order for me and my team to be at our best we need that time, without it we can’t possibly deliver our award-winning campaigns and support our teams. Our ducks remind us of this.

Is there anything you’ll stop doing as a result of attending the workshop?

Cut down on the dull as much as possible. There will always be meetings/work we need to do that require us to be focused and deliver communications support whilst upholding the Service’s reputation. But where we can and when appropriate cut down on the dull and inject some creativity.

What will you keep up?

Our connection with Alive and making sure we continue to provide that creative space for our team.

What new actions will you implement?

  1. Update our team meetings

We have changed the way we run our weekly team meetings. We used to meet every week and update each other on what we’re working on. These meetings became very flat and always over ran. So we’ve spent time updating this meeting in the following ways:

  • It’s now called the huddle
  • We all come together in one area of the office rather than sit across the whole office from our desks
  • We keep it to a maximum 30mins (often we often finish with 5/10 mins to spare)
  • We’ve started to use Slack and WhatsApp to allow our teams to share anything they find creative or update the team as and when they need to
  • Everyone has chance to talk/update the team on what they’re working on

We now have a team creativity box!

We were so inspired by the last team day Alan ran for us, we decided to create a box of creative items (pictured below) that our team can use to help them make some creative time for themselves. This box is filled with; two creative exercises we learnt from Alive, paper, pens, games, books, playdoh, bubbles and most importantly rubber ducks.

It’s filled with anything we feel will allow us to take some time out to free our minds up. Offices are not always the most creative of spaces. We’re lucky at HFRS that we have hub areas with large tables and smaller meetings rooms where we can take some time and get into that creative space.

How will communications be improved at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service having attended the workshop?

We’ve already seen improvements with our campaigns both internally and externally.

We’ve found that we’re more willing to follow that weird and wacky idea and find out where it will lead us. If it works and it means we reach our intended audiences and that our staff teams are engaged we’re more inclined to do it.

Our latest external smoke alarm campaign includes an animated stoat. Need I say more?!


And finally… What was the last thing you said to your little rubber duck?

I promise, we will consider ducks for our next external campaign!


Thanks Katie! What a brilliant example of a team that’s committed to keeping creativity alive. Keep up the great work!

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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