I <3 Cows

Hello and a big welcome back after the holiday period. I hope everyone had a wonderful break and if you were working over Christmas and New Year, I hope it was a calm and cheerful time for you. I really enjoyed the festivities, but, most importantly, I had a chance to reflect on our work tackling digital and social exclusion and focus my mind on the crucial areas that should be at the forefront of our work. One of these areas is Rural.

Just before Christmas, I attended the Prince’s Countryside Forum with two of my colleagues and a member of the Online Centres Network, Paul Davies from Destinations@Saltburn. Together with Paul, we hosted an interactive workshop and I gave a lightning talk entitled ‘Digital: Opportunity or Frustration’. We were also able to chat to The Prince of Wales, and I was interested to hear his thoughts on rural and share mine with him.

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One of the things that really stood out for me, was a lady who spoke at the event. She’s a farmer and she knew that from an early age she wanted to work with cows. “I love cows, I always have” is how she opened her talk. But her chosen career path presents many challenges. For starters, where she’s based is so isolated, she finds it hard to meet and interact with other people. She can’t even begin to think about digital inclusion when there are other such pressing issues, like isolation.

This made me realise just how big a social challenge rural is. It made me ask myself, what are the biggest challenges in rural areas and how can we help tackle them?

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When we talk about digital and social exclusion, we often focus on the urban environment where poorer people live. But people in rural areas also have big hurdles to jump, such as isolation – being so far from places where they can go to develop their skills – as well as availability of broadband.

Solutions

There are things being done. For example, the National Farmers Union are lobbying for fast, affordable and reliable broadband and mobile coverage for farmers, growers and their rural communities. Broadband helps rural businesses to thrive. It helps them to be more efficient; attract more customers. The centres participating in our Prince’s Countryside Fund project are helping rural businesses to do more with digital, and in year two – which we’ve just started delivering this month – there’s also focus on individuals, Digital Champions and community organisations.

Some of our centres based in rural areas are a member of our Online Centres Specialist Rural Network. Nyree Scott is a centre manager who works in rural areas running and working in many centres. She does outreach work, as do many centres in the network, bringing internet, devices and the power of online to individuals who would otherwise be left behind. In outreach work, online learning platforms, like Learn My Way, are ever so important, because it means that everyone can be supported wherever and whenever they need it.

The areas of teleworking and telehealth are opening up massive opportunities for people in rural areas that just weren’t there before. The ideas of being able to work from home or a specific location, and being able to provide healthcare remotely, through the means of digital technology, are going a long way in improving their quality of life. But that’s been talked about for the thirty years I’ve been listening!

Worlds apart but closer than we think

Often when we think about rural locations we think about places here in the UK. We definitely don’t think about places like California, especially with it being the home of Silicon Valley. But towards the end of last year I read a blog post about a project taking place there called: Bridging California’s Rural/Urban Digital Divide with Mobile Broadband.

More and more farmers in rural California and relying on tech to make their business more efficient and environmentally friendly through precision agriculture. But many rural communities there suffer the same lack of reliable, fast mobile broadband that we do here, and this means that many rural economies there are falling behind.

The project aims to tackle this issue by collecting data on mobile broadband performance in a specific area – Yolo County – and comparing that performance to what mobile providers claim they deliver, and what farmers actually need for precision agriculture. This information will be collated into a report and presented to state officials to inform public policymaking on rural broadband.

A really interesting project, and something I wonder if we could replicate here.

What does rural mean to you?

The Oxford Dictionary defines Rural as: “In, relating to, or characteristic of the countryside rather than the town.” I am quite sure that many of you would associate rural with ‘old-school’ farming and isolation, and define it as unconnected, perhaps even distant. With better connectivity and better transport links, it doesn’t have to be this way.

The online world can revolutionise the farming industry, revolutionise rural businesses and revolutionise rural life as a whole. With a little collaboration from those willing to help, I am sure we can make this revolution happen.

If we could do that, my friend from the Prince’s Countryside Forum wouldn’t have to travel to London to share her love of cows – she could get online and share it with the world. But I’m sure, as with all things digital, she would still like to come and meet Prince Charles in person, and balance her online and offline worlds to suit her.

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet…

…for Auld Lang Syne – or so the song goes that we sing at the end of every year. Christmas and New Year are great opportunities to reflect on the last 12 months and to celebrate all of your successes, and for Good Things Foundation there have been a lot.

Here are my top Good Things moments from 2016 (in no particular order):

  • Becoming a charity

We long talked about becoming a charity and in March, thanks to the efforts of my team, we were finally able to make that leap. I was really pleased because the status fits with our ethos of supporting people to improve their lives for the better. What’s more, we were also able to retain our mutual status, making us one of only a handful of organisations to do so. It was a long and challenging journey but it really set us up for the road ahead – to reach the 12.6 million socially excluded people without digital skills across the UK.

  • Receiving my OBE from Prince Charles

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2015 I was awarded an OBE for services to digital inclusion. In February I visited Buckingham Palace to receive my OBE medal from HRH Prince Charles. It was a really proud and fun moment for me, especially when I made Prince Charles laugh. It was great to receive such a high profile award for something that I feel so passionately about and that I just ‘do’ as part of my day-to-day working life. And I’ve been lucky enough to meet the prince again since.

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  • English My Way celebration event

The first phase of our English My Way programme ended earlier this year and we held a celebration event at the beginning of May to commend the achievements of all the amazing learners and centres who were involved in the project. We know that there are still so many people across the UK who are unable to speak English and they’re missing out on so many opportunities, from applying and obtaining jobs, to everyday things such as ordering food in a restaurant. Seeing the difference that English My Way made to the lives of people is simply heartwarming and I wanted to re-share the video from our celebration event, so that if you missed it the first time you can see all the wonderful things the project has done, and will continue to do as we progress through phase 2.

  • Liz Williams becomes our new Chair

In May we made the announcement that Jim Knight, who has been our Chair for the last five years, was stepping down but staying on as a Patron of Good Things Foundation. I was very sad about it but also very happy about the fact that we found a new Chair in our long-time board member Liz Williams from BT. Liz already knows us very well – which is fantastic. She’s exceptional, committed and inspiring, and she recently did a tremendous review for the government on a basic digital skills qualification. I’m really looking forward to working even more closely with Liz and I know she’s going to bring so many new ideas and insight to her role as our Chair.

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  • NHS celebration event

As our Widening Digital Participation programme with NHS England drew to a close, we wanted to do something special to recognise our three year partnership. So in July we held a celebration event at the House of Lords in London, marking the launch of the final evaluation report produced by our research team. We invited along a lot of our partners but, most importantly, we invited the people who worked so hard on the ground throughout the entire three years. From helping the elderly to transforming lives, these people were the ones that made the project so successful, and it was only fitting that they were there with us to celebrate everything it achieved.

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Alicia and Victoria from the mHabitat centre at the launch of our report

  • Reaching 2 Million Learners

Following Get Online Week 2016 we were delighted when the counter on the (old) website finally hit 2 million learners. That’s right – since 2010 Good Things Foundation and the Online Centres Network have helped this many digitally excluded people to realise the benefits of getting online – which is amazing. It’s a key milestone which shows the real scale and impact that our work is having across the UK. We’re celebrating this achievement with the 2 Millionth Learner Awards, which is currently open for nominations. If you know an inspiring and amazing learner who deserves a real treat at the beginning of next year (a trip to a prestigious award ceremony at the BT Tower in London to receive a distinguished award), nominate them today.  

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  • Get Online Week’s 10th birthday

In October we held our 10th annual Get Online Week and I wanted to celebrate the big birthday by going out to 10 events to meet amazing learners and partners. There were so many incredible people doing incredible things and I especially enjoyed The Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, just a few steps from Trafalgar Square in London. This amazing day centre does everything they can to help homeless people in the capital, from a digital skills drop-in and lessons to the provision of job interview clothes. I met a Big Issue salesman called Steve and I gave him a Learn My Way certificate – he told me his story and how the internet has helped him. I heard so many stories when I went on my Get Online Week visits and I was just so pleased that we’re able to help those in the Online Centres Network to help the people that need it most.

  • Rebranding as Good Things Foundation

At our conference in November I announced that we were changing our name from Tinder Foundation to Good Things Foundation, and we’re taking the network along for the ride, rebranding them as the Online Centres Network. In a move that was either crazy or brilliant, we also launched two new websites on the same day. I love the new name. We do good things all the time and it used to be our tag line – ‘We make good things happen with digital technology’. I feel like it reflects what we do much better than our old name did – and, of course, we will no longer be confused with ‘that’ dating app. I love the new names and I hope you do as well.

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  • Our fifth birthday

So, my final amazing moment of the year was when Good Things Foundation, the little social enterprise that I started, had our fifth birthday last week (1st December). Along with the Online Centres Network, we’ve continued to grow and evolve. Although our birthday celebration was a bit sad with Jim stepping down as Chair, looking back on everything that we’ve achieved in 2016 I feel that we’re ready to press on with our mission to ensure that everyone can benefit from digital.

On behalf of myself and the whole Good Things Foundation team I just want to thank the network and all of our partners for your hard work and your role in our continued success.

I personally would also like to thank the Good Things Foundation team. You’ve achieved so much this year, the redevelopment and launch of new look Learn My Way and our new websites to name just a few. You are amazing.

2016 has been a truly crazy year. The Brexit vote happened, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, and so many talented people were taken from us – I personally spent a lot of time listening to Purple Rain back in April.

But for Good Things Foundation it’s been an incredible year of change.

I’m off to Australia today to round off the year working with partners doing digital inclusion down under. As I won’t return back to the UK until Christmas Eve, this will probably be my last blog post of the year. I think it’s very fitting. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year. I’m looking forward continuing our mission to ensure that everyone in the world has the opportunity to benefit from digital and information technology in 2017.

All the best, I look forward to working with you in 2017.

Ch-ch-changes…so the song goes…

Our annual Digital Evolution conference was yesterday, it was so great to meet old friends and to make new ones. Working with a network full of inspiring, committed and expert people is so fulfilling, and us all getting together is an amazing experience. And it’s not just digital that’s evolving – yesterday I announced a new name and brand identity showing how Tinder Foundation and the UK online centres network are evolving too. Just in case you missed it, I announced a new name and logo for both and two sparkly new websites to accompany them: say hello to Good Things Foundation and the Online Centres Network.

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The question that has occupied us for a very long time now, is ‘how can we make good things happen with digital technology?’ It used to be our strapline when we first became Tinder Foundation and ‘doing good things’ has always been at the heart of what we do. Whether that’s helping the 12.6 million people who lack basic digital skills in the UK to find work, become healthier or just to stay in touch with family and friends more easily. We like to think that these skills, to them, are ‘good things’.

As time has passed, the words ‘good things’ just seem to keep cropping up again and again. For the past six years we’ve focussed on bringing digital confidence to those who can most benefit from them – growing and nurturing the Online Centres Network, building the Learn My Way platform and supporting over 2 million people to take their first steps with digital.

The landscape we’ve been working in has been rapidly changing and we’re talking to more partners, and extending our work to focus, not just on digital skills and inclusion, but more broadly on the impact that technology can have on solving some of the challenges that disadvantaged people face in the UK today – and across the rest of the world.

We’ve grown and built our own skills and capacity. We can see the huge potential to address some of the key social inclusion challenges we face, seeking out the hardest to reach and leveraging digital tools to make good things happen for those who need it most.

Gradually, it became clear that we needed to find a new name to better reflect what we do and to bring the Online Centres Network even closer to us. When we sat down and had a good think about what our name could be, those two words that kept cropping up, cropped up again. And we knew we’d found what we’d been looking for. So we chose Good Things Foundation.

What our new name means

This new name reflects our strategy, our ambition to use digital to address some of the most pressing social challenges we’re facing, working together with partners to help make good things happen – to change the lives of millions of people.

Focussing on the future, we’ve rebadged and repositioned the UK online centres network, as the Online Centres Network, so we can focus on the huge impact that these grassroots organisations can have working together with each other, and with the communities that support them.

Of course, we’ll still be providing the same support as ever to the Online Centres Network, including accurate data and MI, high quality training, support and resources, and the chance to take part in national programmes, campaigns and initiatives that have a real impact. The new Online Centres website, will help us to do this even more effectively.

From talking to members of the network, and other partners who value them so highly, it’s become clear that being part of a network is the key element in what makes the Online Centres Network so successful – sharing ambitions and challenges, and working together to achieve a common aim.

It’s the good things we can achieve together that matter and at Good Things Foundation, working together will be key to what we can achieve.

Thinking back, it has been fun at times to break the ice with “No, not that Tinder” but the confusion hasn’t always helped us to connect with everyone in the right way. We’re really excited about our new name, new brands, and our new websites. If you haven’t had a chance to look yet, please do check them out.

Now let’s move forward and work together to make even more good things happen.

Halfway there (… now for the rest of the world)

I receive a newsletter straight to my inbox called ‘Internet World Stats News’. Every time there’s a change in the number of people worldwide accessing the internet, they send me an update. I find this helpful when I’m talking to people about the online population, especially seeing as Tinder Foundation is expanding our digital inclusion work to the international platform. The latest bulletin was particularly interesting, as we’ve reached a milestone – half of the world’s population are now online.

This is exciting news.

The record figure is quite astounding – there are now 3,675,824,813 internet users in the world, and that’s 50.1% of the world’s population. The below table, courtesy of Internet World Stats, shows exactly how many people are online and where.

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Image courtesy of Internet World Stats

Unsurprisingly, we can see that the area with the lowest percentage of internet users compared to population, is the Africa region with just 28.7%. Africa is the second largest continent in the world in both size and population, with 54 countries. As part of the developing world, it’s no secret that Africa is one of the poorest places, and therefore would have a lot to gain from digital literacy.

Here at Tinder Foundation we would love to extend our reach to digitally excluded people around the world. 50.1% of the global population might now be online but that means there are still 49.9% who are still offline. These people will often be experiencing a number of significant social challenges. One thing we know that once the infrastructure is fixed it will be the most socially disadvantaged whose finances and whose basic digital skills will still keep them offline.

Our partnership work in Ireland, our pilot in the Philippines, and our new project in the disadvantaged communities in Western Sydney, with partner Leep NGO, have shown that working with organisations in the heart of their communities works and that Learn My Way can support people not just confined in our country.

We have a few thousand people finding Learn My Way and logging in from all over the world, with interesting spikes in Kashmir, Ontario, and California, that we don’t know the reasons for.

According to the Internet World Stats news we’re halfway there. You can call me a glass half empty kind of person if you want, but reaching the other half of the world is where the real work begins.

Why we should close libraries

Recently there was a House of Lords debate on the role of libraries and independent bookshops, with Lord Bird – founder of the Big Issue – warning Government that if they keep closing libraries they’ll have to build more prisons and homeless shelters.

Libraries, added Baroness Rebuck, Labour peer and chair of Penguin Random House publishing group, are a bedrock of social mobility and social cohesion, and should be seen as key community centres, where alongside books, people can rely on other essential life services.

I agree with the view that we must protect essential services, knowledge and education for those most disadvantaged in our communities. I agree there is a wider, long term impact if we don’t.  

I don’t agree that libraries should receive an automatic ‘get out of austerity free’ card, merely on the grounds of being libraries.

The thing is, that this ‘community’ role is not in fact part of libraries’ official statutory duties. Not all of them are living up to it. But all of them are taking credit for it.

Furthermore, I need to point out that knowledge is no longer just found in books. Increasingly, knowledge, education, history, news and even fiction, are found online. I would go as far as to say that talking about bookshops in the same breath as libraries is particularly unhelpful. Books are not synonymous with knowledge, and they are certainly not synonymous with community.

In my view, libraries need to work beyond books to really become the community hubs Baroness Rebuck already gives them credit for being. They should be about social inclusion, providing learning and training opportunities to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Digital skills and digital inclusion are now a vital part of that remit – and it’s a part that was curiously missing from the Lord’s debate.

Some libraries are doing an amazing job of supporting the needs of their community, using digital and other means to engage and empower excluded and vulnerable groups. They’re working closely with Jobcentres, Citizens Advice Bureaux, GPs, social and sheltered housing organisations, faith groups, community centres and charities. They’re offering digital skills, jobs clubs, hosting community workshops, mother and toddler groups, school programmes, local history exhibitions and much, much more.

These, these are the community hubs. Online, offline, on the ground, in real life.

Other libraries are not.

They are insular, don’t integrate with other community groups or services, barely integrate with the council that runs them, and have a cultural resistance to change or modification. These libraries, I believe, deserve to close. I understand that change at a micro level in isolation is very hard. But the fact is these are organisations that have now consistently failed to make the most of the considerable advantage of their position and long-term funding.

From my perspective, it’s time this long-term funding should be channeled to the libraries – and other community organisations – really playing the role of community hubs. The organisations whose whole remit and reason for existence is about providing access to knowledge, learning, advice and other vital support services.

I want to make it really clear at this point that I love libraries. But I love them when they’re fulfilling their potential. When they are not, I believe they are bringing the institution down. I believe they are letting local people down. And I’m fed up of seeing them get a free pass to do so when other community hubs – community centres – are also at the brink of closures, and also faced with the really pointy end of the local council cuts.

During better economic times, some libraries have grown lazy. Austerity has been a shock to them. Now they really need to look beyond their doors and respond to their communities, to modernise, to think outside of the box (or book). And they have to prove that they’re doing more, for less money, for more people, and most importantly for the ones who need them the most.

That’s where I think Tinder Foundation can help. It’s our job to make good things happen in communities with digital technology. Some of the best UK online centres in our network are libraries. They are working tirelessly to make life better for local people, and digital has become a key way in which they are connecting people to the services, skills, and opportunities they need.

To do so they’re making use of our products and services (like our popular learning platform Learn My Way), our Management Information systems to track and prove their impact, and they’re taking part in our projects, pilots and campaigns (like this last week’s National Get Online Week) to engage with new audiences, new partners and new intermediaries. In fact 97% of our partners believe that it is only by working with other community organisations that they can become ‘community hubs’. You can read more about some of those partnerships in action in our recent Library Digital Inclusion Action Research Report.

I believe we can help libraries be better. I believe we can help libraries to be places Lord Bird, Baroness Rebuck and more importantly – local people – would be truly proud of. I believe we can make libraries so strong, so useful, and so essential that no one in their right mind would ever close another one.

But unless we act to change and create the library service of the future – unless we face up to the fact not all of it is working all of the time and cut out the bits that are failing – the vision Lord Bird set out of no libraries, higher walls, more prisons and more shelters, will still come to pass.

So let’s rise together to meet the challenge we’ve all been set.

Get Online Week: The campaign may be over but the fun’s just beginning

As quickly as it came around Get Online Week is over for another year – and what a spectacular campaign it was! A very fitting and busy celebration for a tenth birthday indeed.

Get Online Week is a great opportunity for the UK online centres network, and everyone else who wants to spread the digital inclusion message, to jump on the bandwagon and reach the 12.6 million people without basic digital skills, to show them how much easier a life online can be.

A front row seat

The Tinder Foundation team got out and about throughout the week to see Get Online Week activity firsthand and everyone was so impressed by all the great work they saw. I personally made it my goal to celebrate the big one zero by visiting ten different events. By the time I got home on Friday I was very tired but very pleased to have met so many wonderful people and seen so much exciting activity happening.

  1. Learn for Life, Sheffield

I visited Learn for Life in Sheffield with my colleague Boryana. It was so wonderful to catch up with the team there and meet all the learners who were finding out about all the wonderful stuff they could do online through Learn My Way and English My Way. Learn for Life supports refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, as well as people from the local community. It really feels like a family there, it was so busy and vibrant. A great start to the week.

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  1. Edlington Hilltop Centre, Doncaster

On the Tuesday I popped across to Doncaster to visit Edlington Hilltop. The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that Rachel and Rob, two of our Get Online Week poster stars, were from this centre. It was lovely to chat to the team there and to hear about all the great stuff they were doing. I can’t believe they achieve everything that they do with just 2.5 staff (or full time equivalents) – they can only do it with the hundreds of volunteers they have.

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With Get Online Week star Rob, and Edlington Hilltop’s Centre Manager Rob

 

  1. Rotherham Libraries

After visiting Edlington Hilltop I went across to Rotherham Libraries who were using Get Online Week as an excuse to get out to five different locations. I visited them at a coffee shop in the centre of Rotherham. They had a great set up to register people as members of the Library, and then talk to them about eBooks and the internet. However, I did meet an older woman who didn’t want to ever use the internet. However persuasive I tried to be, she wasn’t budging. I hope I planted some seeds about the benefits to her of being online and that Rotherham Libraries can nudge her a bit more next time they meet. Everyone at the cafe was so nice, and I have to say, 10/10 for cakes and coffee!

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  1. The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London

A few steps from Trafalgar Square and I was in this amazing day centre. From digital skills drop-in and lessons, to the provision of job interview clothes, this centre does everything they can to help homeless people in the capital. I gave one Big Issue salesman, Steve, his Learn My Way certificate, and spoke to lots of men, both learners and volunteers about their stories. Steve told me he used Facebook to communicate with his family via his phone but he knew nothing about email and searching. He was happy to learn that the internet had so much more to offer. A great visit.

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He said that gesture meant victory! Victory indeed for Get Online Week 2016

 

  1. Lloyds Charity Digital Skills workshop

A big thank you to our campaign sponsors, Lloyds Banking Group. The balloons, pens and notepads went down a treat and I was delighted to attend their Charity Digital Skills workshop on the Wednesday evening. More than 100 people were there to learn more about digital. Lloyds also launched their UK Business Digital Index 2016 on Wednesday to coincide with Get Online week.

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  1. Peabody Darwin Court

The team at Peabody Darwin Court in London were so nice and it was surprising to see that they had a whopping five volunteers to support all of the people learning digital skills. Covering everything from job searching to copy and paste, it really was great to see people of all skill levels learning something new during Get Online Week.

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  1. Cabinet Office Get Online Week event

I had a lovely time at Whitehall on Thursday lunchtime chatting to people from DWP and Jobcentre Plus Maidstone. It was great to hear how digital skills is now playing a bigger part in their day-to-day jobs, and I was delighted to show them how they can become a UK online centre and use Learn My Way to teach clients about all the wonderful stuff there is online to help them with their job search. It was a really insightful event and I hope we can work together in the future. Thank you to Chad Bond, from GDS, for organising these events throughout the week.

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8, 9 and 10. I spent the Friday visiting three centres across Liverpool: Liverpool Carers Centre, Mersey Learn (at Mersey Travel) and Kensington Community Learning Centre.

They were all doing such great stuff and there was even a raffle game at Kensington where learners would receive a free raffle ticket for each online activity they completed. Alan Tapp, at Kensington (Liverpool), should help us out with next year’s toolkit – he had prizes from local businesses, he had an online games competition, and a huge turnout for his event.

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Talking to amazing carers about Twitter. Communication is so important for people who are often at home alone with those that they are caring for

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Louise Ellman MP at Mersey Learn at Mersey Travel

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Pulling out prizes from the box at Kensington Community Learning Centre

 

The fun’s just beginning

Get Online Week 2016 was a truly brilliant campaign. I visited these ten events but I saw so much more happening across social media – look up the hashtag #GOLW16 to see how much was happening and other great photos from the thousands of events around the country.

We may have reached even more people over the past week, teaching them digital skills that they can use to make their lives easier, but the stats still speak for themselves. There are still 12.6 million people in the UK who aren’t able to access the online world and it’s so important that we’re there to offer them support.

Get Online Week is like getting a dog for Christmas – Get Online Week is for life. It’s so much more than a seven-day campaign; it’s an accelerator for activity throughout the rest of the year. Get Online Week may be over, but the fun is only just beginning.

Happy birthday Get Online Week!

The year’s biggest digital inclusion campaign is finally here and this year it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. We all like to celebrate on our birthday and Get Online Week is no different. This year is it’s 10th birthday – the eagle-eyed among you will remember that the very first one was a Get Online Day. Since then the campaign has grown every year, from Get Online Day to Get Online Week; from hundreds of events taking place across the country to thousands. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store this year – especially as I’m going to 10 events to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

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Tinder Foundation’s Director of Business and Innovation Adam Micklethwaite at a Get Online Week event this morning

 

The Get Online Week team at Tinder Foundation HQ have informed me that there’s well over 1,100 organisations taking part this year which is amazing. Thank you to everyone for signing up and for committing to host events that will reach new people in your community, showing them how big a difference technology and the internet can make to their lives.

If there are any doubters who are apprehensive about the power of online, you only have to look at this year’s campaign stars to see the impact it can have. Watch the story from Christina Wheatley who has used the internet to grow the reputation, business and influence of her social enterprise, Edible Avondale SE1, which teaches groups of young people food growing and DIY skills in the South Bermondsey area of Southwark. A real inspiration to small business owners across the UK!

Or what about Arthur and Sue? A heartwarming father and daughter who use the internet to stay in touch since Sue and her family moved to Cornwall. Arthur says that “Technology makes it feel like [they] are together.” And not forgetting Rob Smedley from the Edlington Hilltop UK online centre near Doncaster. Rob used his newfound digital skills to beat the “wilderness” of unemployment and move into full time work, helping others to get online and find work too.

There are so many inspirational people fronting this year’s campaign. If you haven’t heard their stories yet, please do take a look across on the Get Online Week website.

All fun and games

Don’t forget to use the brand new Get Online Week game to engage all the new learners coming along to your events. It’s been developed especially for people with little or no internet skills or experience – though it can be fun for those who are a bit more advanced too – and it’s a really enjoyable way to get a taste of some of the things that being online can help with. Check it out using the “Play the game” button on the Learn My Way homepage.

And finally

I’m so pleased that Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, paid a visit to a drop in session at St Vincent’s Close Sheltered Housing in Girton today to get the campaign off to a flying start. Seeing such a high profile person supporting Get Online Week is truly encouraging and such a huge testament to how much the campaign has grown in the past ten years. I hope you enjoyed the visit Minister.

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Matt Hancock MP chatting to one of the learners at the Get Online Week event this morning

 

My favourite bit of Get Online Week, along with my event visits (I’m really looking forward to them all this year), is seeing the campaign activity happening across the UK on social media. The Tinder Foundation team will be posting about their visits using the hashtag #GOLW16 and I’d love for you to do it too. Facebook; Instagram; Twitter; I want to see campaign activity across them all. #GOLW16 – let’s do it! And keep an eye out because we’ll be sharing and reposting as much as we can throughout the week.

Have a great Get Online Week everyone!