One common theme in everything I seem to blog about is the importance of working together. We couldn’t support people to improve their skills, and we certainly wouldn’t have been able to help one million of them in just over two years, without working together with our fantastic network of community partners.I’m a big advocate of working together, so it’s great that I can talk about a project that has done just this, resulting in positive outcomes for a whole city. We kicked off the Sheffield Channel Shift project late last year. Sheffield’s our home city and we’re pretty passionate about it. Unsurprisingly, we’re also pretty passionate about the internet, and what it can do to make people’s lives easier, as well as to save the government money. So it seemed natural for us to bring these two together. Thus, the Channel Shift project was born. The project aimed to bring lots of different partners, including Sheffield City Council, Jobcentre Plus, the Department for Work and Pensions and Citizens Advice Bureau together with some of our local UK online centres, so we could work out just what we needed to do to encourage people to move transactions online across the city. We completed the project in April, and one of the main discoveries was that it’s really all about culture change, and ensuring the staff at every level buy into the project, and can understand the online services that are available and why they should be promoting them. They also need to be able to direct customers to where they can go to find help and support. A joined-up, partnership-led approach is the only way to make this happen. The project was a real success, in lots of ways. 75% of people we surveyed after the project said they could now access services online, with 23% estimating they had reduced calls or face-to-face interactions by 10 a month, representing a huge saving.
And not only did we have a real impact during the life of the project, but we also established partnerships that will continue way into the future. Our partners will continue promoting the benefits of the internet, and will help people find the support they need to use it. They’ll continue to save the government, and organisations, money, and they’ll continue to make people’s lives bigger by opening up new worlds. This is why I think the Sheffield Channel Shift project has been such a success, and why I’m keen to see it replicated across the country. You can read more about the Sheffield Channel Shift project, including the full report, and a video featuring some of our partners here.