How far we’ve come! Looking back on 2011

It’s that time of year when, to take a break from rushing around the shops and frantically wrapping presents, it’s traditional to cast an eye back over the achievements of the year. If you read my last blog, you’ll know I have quite a lot to be proud of this year with Online Centres Foundation winning the tender for the running of UK online centres. 

Although establishing OCF, our brand new staff-owned mutual, sometimes felt like a year’s worth of work, it was far from being the only thing we achieved in 2011. So to celebrate the festive season, I thought I’d share with you some of the things the fantastic team here has achieved.

  • We built a new learning platform and a brilliant new website for our learners at to replace myguide, which sadly was no more from September. Most importantly, the website was built in consultation with our centres and learners, and we’ve had fantastic feedback from the people it really makes a difference to. Through our learning platform, we’ve helped more than 750,000 people to get online since April 2010.
  • We’ve run three high profile ‘Go ON’ marketing campaigns which helped hundreds of thousands of people to get online for the first time. 
  • We’re particularly proud of our partnership with Jobcentre Plus, which has seen the percentage of learners who are referred to UK online centres by JCP soar from 9% to over 23%. 70% of our centres now having a referral relationship with their local Jobcentre.
  • We’ve supported 60 Community Capacity Builders (CCBs), who have run large scale projects to help get whole communities online and really make a difference to the people living there. 
  • Through our training team and the CCBs, we’ve supported and trained 2,000 digital volunteers in local communities. 1,000 centre staff and volunteers have participated in one of our online or face-to-face training sessions.
  • We’ve built exciting partnerships with corporate organisations including Asda, JD Wetherspoon and Mecca Bingo, who are opening up their venues so that local UK online centres can deliver outreach training to their customers.
  • We’ve developed our internal technologies significantly to become ‘digital by default’, so all centres can now apply and claim for grants online without the need for any paper records.
  • We’ve run or helped to run Go ON Leeds,Go ON Barnsley, Go ON Liverpool and Go ON Sheffield (twice) which significantly raised the profile of getting online in these towns and cities. 
  • We managed our first collaborative funding round with Nominet Trust, giving £750,000 in grants to hundreds of centres, allowing them to establish UK online centres in innovative outreach locations including scout halls, cafes and laundrettes.
  • We’ve supported 80% of our learners to use online government services and 43% of them to reduce their phone and face-to-face contacts, amounting to around £118m of savings to government since April 2010.
  • We’ve continued to support our network of nearly 4,000 community partners to work at a grassroots level to help people to take their first steps online – and are delighted that so many of them choose to share their stories.

So thank you to all of our lovely partners, supporters and friends without whom we couldn’t have achieved all of this. I’m genuinely really excited about 2012 and all of the opportunities and challenges it holds for the organisation. I can’t wait to continue working with you in 2012. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!