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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 — Tata Consultancy Services

“So glad that we chose Alive to create our new website. As well as taking the time to get the visual side of our requirement right, they worked with us to understand us, our business and our clients and reflect this across the site. We loved their flexible approach, which, coupled with the right level of challenge has replaced our old, clunky site with one we can be proud of. ”

Victoria Ford — Perago

“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