A rollercoaster year

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Mid October may not be a traditional time for reflection and self-analysis, but in the run up to my sixth Get online week campaign (15 to 21 October), I find myself thinking about exactly how far we’ve come.  

Part of this, of course, is prompted by the publication of our latest Annual Review, which showcases just what a year April 2011 – March 2012 was for us – full of change and new beginnings.  If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that last December we became a staff owned mutual running a social enterprise, which has had huge implications on what we do – and even on how we feel.

Before the very first Get online week was even a twinkle in the already twinkly eyes of former MP Derek Wyatt (a story for another time) the idea of being a self-operated, independent body was – at best – a pipe dream.  (Or given my views on people vs pipes, perhaps I should say a ‘people’ dream).  

The journey to becoming a mutual wasn’t an easy one.  We had to imagine the kind of organisation we wanted to be, articulate that in a competitive bid, and then establish ourselves as an independent body with a new board to steer us, a new strategy and new funding streams and partners to work with – and this all had to happen at breakneck speed.  But being a mutual has meant that we can be more responsive, more flexible, and more strategic about our work.  The buck stops with us, and it means we work harder and smarter to achieve what we want for our customers, consumers and network (although I’d like to add that I think we worked pretty hard before mutualisation too!)

The highlights of what we’ve achieved so far as a mutual – and in the lead up to mutualisation – are too numerous to count.  Our annual review shares a small number of them, as well as setting out our plans for the future as we diversify what we do, working in communities to inspire change through technology, and helping organisations and government prepare for the shift to digital – so everyone can take advantage of the huge benefits of technology.  Please give it a glance.

Last year, Get online week supported c40,000  people to improve their skills.  This year – our first under our own aegis – we hope to match (or beat) that figure.  It may have been a rollercoaster year – but there’s still time for you to ride it with us for Get online week.  If you want to visit a local event, get involved as a volunteer, or just help us spread the word, do get in touch at  help@ukonlinecentres.com.   I’ll see you on the other side with all the juicy #GOLW12 details….  

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