There must be something auspicious about the 8th of July as last year on exactly the same date we met with colleagues, friends, partners old and new, at the House of Lords, and this year’s celebration was a big hit too. A year ago we launched our new name – Tinder Foundation – and that was just a great way to kick off a very good year.
It’s a year when we’ve helped another 150,000 people get the basic online skills they need taking our total since 2010 to 1.25 million. We completed the first year of our Widening Digital Participation programme with NHS England where we helped nearly 60,000 people use health information through the Learn My Way health portal and course (in our first nine months) and I’m pleased to say that has cemented a strong partnership with NHS England.
We’ve diversified with lots of great partners helping us to deliver impact but also it’s good to have partners who help fund our work too. So thanks go to: Vodafone, Talk Talk, BIS, NHS England, Communities and Local Government, Society of Chief Librarians, Comic Relief, Nominet Trust, DWP, Post Office, EON, BT, Argos and Asda. We couldn’t have done it without you.
We have an amazing network of hyperlocal partners, who really do reach and engage people that other projects and initiatives don’t reach – at our event yesterday it was great to celebrate with some of the UK online centres who do all the hard work in their local communities. Nice to share the day with Anne Wallace, Baz Kanabar, Victoria Rodney, Paul Davies, Louise Barbe, Debbie Hale and Nyree Scott – thank you, and all the other UK online centres who didn’t come along, for all your hard work.
I was delighted that the Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock MP, made time in his very busy schedule to join us yesterday. He spoke very highly of the work which we do, telling the audience that he’s proud to be associated with us and feels that we have one of the biggest impacts of education on people’s lives by bringing together the most cutting edge technology and allowing access to it for people in some of the most difficult circumstances. It was great to hear him speak so proudly of BIS’s support for Tinder Foundation and to hear him say that he sees that basic online skills are essential for both society and the economy.
Those of you who know us, will know that we never stand still, so yesterday we launched the next phase of our five year strategy. We have three strategic objectives; firstly, we will continue to focus on digital inclusion, especially the hardest to reach, and we aim to help at least one million more people to get basic online skills by 2019. Secondly, we will extend our expertise in networks and digital platforms to help adults who are not currently learning to access informal learning – such as English, Maths, ESOL, and learning for fun through digital. And for third objective we will be focusing on deep rooted societal issues – for example poor health, loneliness, debt, worklessness – and, with partners, see how digital can be part of the solution. You can access our strategy here.
I do know that there is no silver bullet, there isn’t one solution to help the last 10 million people without basic online skills. But I do know that there is loads of knowledge and expertise on models that do work: to help us to continue to extend and share our knowledge on digital inclusion, we also launched a new wiki to produce our collective wisdom on HOW we can help this final 10m. Please look at it, get involved, be tactical but be ambitious too. We’ll be discussing and publishing the output in November at our Annual Conference. You can find the wiki here.
I think everyone who attended yesterday would agree when I say that the star of the show was Roger Hamilton, a former learner of a UK online centre who was homeless and found the skills he needed to turn his life around. After developing his own skills he found the best use for the skills he had learnt, volunteering and then working at St Mungo’s homeless charity, by sharing them with others. He is truly passionate about helping people who face multiple barriers. You can hear Roger talking at the House of Lords below. A shining example of how learning digital skills can really change lives!
I already know how fantastic the Tinder team are and how wonderful our network is but it’s great to hear that it doesn’t go unrecognised. It’s events like yesterday that really brings home just how big an impact we can have on peoples lives. We’ve helped 1.25 million people get online since 2010 but there are still another 10 million who need our help, so we’re not resting and it’s great to have the support of some many friends and partners …. and the Minister too.
Do watch Roger’s film – it will be a few minutes of your life and you will be so glad you did.