Parkinson’s UK’s new digital leader has said that enabling people who have the illness to take control of their lives will be at the heart of her new job.
Julie Dodd was this week announced as the charity's first director of digital transformation and communications, one of the first such roles to be created in the voluntary sector.
The former creative director of the digital agency Zone will be responsible for maximising the potential of technology to transform the lives of people with or affected by Parkinson’s, enabling the charity to meet the three central aims of its five-year strategy.
Steve Ford, chief executive of Parkinson’s UK, told Third Sector Dodd’s appointment would allow the charity to develop innovative solutions to help people who have the disease.
"In this role, Julie will be driving the development and delivery of a digital transformation ‘roadmap’, leading our work to use digital and technology to deliver a personalised, interactive experience to the 10,000 people diagnosed with the condition each year," he said.
"Parkinson’s UK has an ambitious five-year strategy with three central aims: to enable people with Parkinson’s to take control of their lives, to ensure that everyone affected by the condition can access quality services wherever they live and to discover better treatments and a cure in years, not decades.
"Absolutely fundamental to our strategy has been understanding the needs of people affected by Parkinson’s. They told us they want to take control of their lives and identified that technology has a central role to play. This played a key part in the decision to develop the new role."
Dodd acknowledged that technological developments to improve management of Parkinson’s had to cover a wide spectrum in order to meet the diverse needs of those with the condition.
"It could be products such as online services or mobile apps, wearable technology, or equipping local service providers with digital technology to improve interactions with the people they support," she told Third Sector.
"It will also be a combination of delivering innovative solutions directly as well as inspiring and enabling others to do so. Again, at the heart of this is looking at how we can enable people with Parkinson’s to take control of their lives with the support of technology and digital solutions, drive up standards across health and social care, and enable and facilitate better research."
The former creative director at the BBC will also oversee the charity’s broader marketing and communications activity to ensure integrated and high-impact campaigns are executed across a range of channels to raise awareness, offer support and encourage fundraising and campaigning.
The digital communication specialist Kirsty Marrins told Third Sector that Dodd’s appointment was a significant development.
"It's sending a very clear message that the charity is serious about investing in digital to leverage the opportunities that digital offers to best serve their supporters and people affected by Parkinson's," she said.
"Change doesn't just happen overnight and, even with the best intentions, digital transformation is as much about a change in culture as it is about technology."
Dodd will take up her new position in August.