Care Labels For Humans: Help me test version 2



Having toyed with the Care Labels For Humans concept for nearly four years, I decided that 2018 was going to be *the year* when I made some real progress.

If you’d like to take part in the next prototyping on Sunday 14th January, then you can sign up to be a participant here. Please note that although this is Manchester Girl Geeks event it is open to all genders (those under 14 need to be accompanied by an adult).

Care Labels For Humans v1

Back in October 2017, I gave my first paper prototype for Care Labels For Humans its first test at a Geek Mental Help Week event held with Manchester Girl Geeks.

The badge back for Care Labels custom stickers.

Label badge from October 2017

The Care Labels were simple. A standard name badge bearing three slots for labels:

  • A – how the wearer wanted to be approached
  • B – the behaviour desired by the wearer
  • C – an interest as a conversation starter

I really loved testing the first prototype with a small group of engaged people,  it’s amazing how much I learned from a relatively unstructured session.


Inventive use of Care Labels

My favourite thing about testing the prototype is when people break my ‘system’, as it gives me so much insight into how creative people can be when it comes to expressing their needs.

This badge took the ‘toxic’ symbol, offered as one of the A (Approach) labels and repurposed it to express their passion for physics.

OK, so what’s new?

As well as having had the chance to mull over the findings from the October test, I discussed the Care Labels concept with lots of different people.

I’ve been delighted by the positivity of so many people, and these discussions have allowed me to add features which deepen the Care Labels experience.

Bigger = better?

The badge back for the Care Labels is now much bigger and worn on an A6 lanyard rather than fixed to an item of clothing.

Identity matters

  • Space for you to write your name
  • A place to specify your pronouns e.g. she, he, they etc

Asking permission

The B (Behaviour) badge is now used to identify how open the wearer might be to questioning. The options are:

  • Ask me about anything
  • Ask me about some things
  • Ask me about nothing

More freedom of expression

The badge front has space for the wearer to display more than one C (conversation) label, as well as options for those who do not wish to engage in verbal communication.

Participants will also be able to customise their Care Labels to suit their mood.

There’s a back to the badge!

I’ve introduced an extra element which allows the wearer to display some additional label types, but only to those they really want to.

I’m not going to say too much more here or it will spoil the fun!

Don’t miss out…

Please come along and join in the experiment at Virgin Money Lounge in Manchester city centre for our Blue Sunday event.

Tickets are just £3 and include tea, cake and a ‘lean coffee’ talks session.

See you there!

My Week In Happy: Stressipes, recipes and taking things at my own pace


This has been a relatively quiet week for me going-out wise allowing me time to spend a bit more time reflecting and less time doing.


Spent some time learning about the kinds of things stress people out at work and how these ‘stressors’ can cause us to behave. At times it can be difficult to separate out issues at work from other events in our lives and all of these anxieties can combine to become what I think of as a ‘stressipe’ (rhymes with recipe).

Cheer Up Love - upcoming events

Giving my whiteboard some love.

Lifestyle is one of the key factors (other than personality type) that affects how we cope under pressure – one key aspect of this is making sure we do stuff we enjoy. That’s a big part of what is about – and to make it seem more official I’ve started using my whiteboard to display the fun events I’ve got coming up.


Received a last minute invitation to see War Horse at The Lowry. I was actually feeling pretty weary but I knew that the offer was too good to turn down. It was lovely of my colleague Andrea to think of me when someone had to drop out the day before (especially as the ticket was just a tenner).

I had seen and heard a lot about the show, which is story based around the events of World War One, it’s not a subject I am normally drawn to but the spectacular puppetry and gripping emotional plot made it totally worth it.


I recently decided it was time to get really serious about nutrition. On the advice of my personal trainer, it’s out with processed food, too much cheese and gorging on sugary fruits, and in with a high protein diet which includes ‘good fats’ like nuts and seeds.

Angie's chilli

Chilli grown and packaged by @angieokchan – used for very tasty salmon and broccoli stir-fry.

All of this has taken considerable getting my head round but it really does make sense – so it’s back to the chopping board for me! I’m experimenting with recipes that consist of 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% (as proportions of the overall number of calories. If you have any suggestions for meals I could try I’d be glad to hear from you!


Popped in to Silicon Drinkabout Manchester at The Lower Turk’s Head near Shudehill tram stop. I hadn’t been to a Drinkabout for a while and I have to say the venue was ideal for chatting and mingling.

Had fun hanging out with @angieokchan, @frimkron@cnorthwood, @ianforrester and we *somehow* ended up chatting for ages about dating and Ian’s proposed ‘flirkshop’ event and eating at the legendary Northern Quarter burger joint Almost Famous (definitely not nutrition compliant!).


My lovely friend Elizabeth invited me round to her flat for a ‘bring and share’ afternoon tea she was holding. This was kicking off at 4pm so I thought I had plenty of time to bake. Of course, I couldn’t do anything simple. Of course, I knew that the supermarket would not stock one key ingredient in the recipe and max out my culinary skills.

I also knew that I would forget I had a fan-assisted oven which meant it didn’t need to be on so hot, and that I definitely had a cake tin big enough to put the finished product in.

Slice of avocado cake

Avocado cake – yum!

Also, I definitely knew when I tried to whisk the ingredients with a hand-held blender that they would spray all over the hob and work-tops. What I did not know was that this would necessitate a complete reorganisation of my cupboards as they had kind of been annoying me lately.

Thankfully, the cake turned out well in the end – due to feats of engineering with ingredients, oven heat and transit arrangements. It was lovely to catch up with Elizabeth and her family, chat about BBC Radio Cumbria and drink tea, but it was a definite bonus that I had made a cake I felt proud of – happy days!

Crazy In Love & The Chimp Paradox

Wedding attire.

Looking posh

OK. Life got busy but now I’m back!

This picture is of me at my friends’ Kas and Nalin’s wonderful wedding in Oxfordshire last week (one of things keeping me busy).

The Care Labels project is still very much in my mind and I’m planning to do some research with people who face challenges when trying to express difficult emotions.

I’m really interested to find out the kind of emotions and needs people find it hard to express and how they prefer to communicate.

I am looking at how best to do this, so in the meantime here’s a few other thoughts on emotional expression and psychology.

I have been reflecting on the emotional states and how these relate to two different models of how we think and behave in the world.

Thanks to Kate Norman (@sarahkatenorman) for pointing me the direction of this TED Talk by Dr Helen Fisher – ‘The Brain in Love’.

Dr Fisher studies people in different stages of romantic love, using MRI scans to look at brain activity of subjects, ‘17 who were happily in love, 15 who had just been dumped’.

In those happily in love, the research identified activity in the ventral tegmental (VTA) area of the brain. The specific cells concerned generate and distribute dopamine to other bits of the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which relates, among other things, to pleasure.

What is interesting to me about this finding is she describes this activity as ‘way below your cognitive emotions’, in other words we have very little conscious control over whether this area is activated or not.

Dr Fisher likens the effect of this brain activity to the craving and excitement which we experience as when we are ‘in love’ with someone (similar to the effects of some addictive substances).

This might be something that we’d suspected all along but this work has provided some more concrete data on brain activity and love.

For all the self-help books, TED Talks, magazine articles and blogs out there offering to help us meet more suitable partners, make ourselves more attractive and hold onto romantic relationships, this research suggests there will always be a part of the attraction formula we can’t control.

Perhaps this is the reason, like it or not, that so many romcoms are based on this premise – a genre that remains ever-popular.

The second psychological model of the week comes from the excellent executive coach I have been working with for almost a year now.

He has a strong interest in the theory behind what drives our behaviour in the workplace, and recommended that I familiarise myself with the work of Dr Steve Peters – in particular his book The Chimp Paradox.

Steve was the psychiatrist that support the GB cycling team to success in the London 2012 Olympics.

I’ve not yet read the book, but this short film gives an idea of how we can be enslaved to the primal (chimp) part of our brain which has a tendency react to situations before we have a chance to think through a rational response to whatever is happening.

The reason I am connecting these approaches is that they highlight a primal part of the brain in a similar way. However much we know about ourselves and master our emotions there may always be that part of our minds that our beyond our conscious control.

Dr Peters looks to help us to tame our, often too quick to respond ‘inner chimp’ in certain situations, and Dr Fisher’s work suggests that there may be parts of the primal brain that rule our hearts no matter what.

Underlying both of these approach is the need for self-awareness – we may not be able to have complete control over the emotions or responses stemming from the old brain, but by being ready and willing to recognise these feelings we can deal with them in the way that serves us best.