Last week was Tinder Foundation’s fourth annual Digital Evolution conference and a broad range of thought leaders, policy makers and community organisations came together to discuss how we can work together and continue to build and sustain our digital nation. I can’t believe the day is over again for another year but I believe it acted as a real gateway for change – an opportunity for the digital inclusion practitioners in attendance to express their opinions, share their experiences and gain new ideas on how they can contribute to our digital future.
In the last five years we’ve helped more than 1.7 million people. Our vision – the vision of Tinder Foundation – is a world where everyone benefits from digital. But like I said on the day, it’s not actually about digital inclusion. Those words make people think of technology – this is a revolution about people. It’s about transforming people’s lives and building a stronger economy. What we’re all doing is working together to create digital fluency; creating people with basic digital skills and internet confidence. I feel like we really put this message across on the day and I hope those in attendance feel inspired to rally the troops and power forwards.
In my afternoon speech I made it very clear that Tinder Foundation, no matter what happens, will stick to the knitting. Our vision is digital inclusion for socially excluded people. The people who are left behind are the poorest and most vulnerable in society and we want to make sure they have the skills – employability, financial literacy, or even digital health – to improve their lives. We are not going to give up. Even it it falls out of fashion we’re still going to do it. Our network of community partners are a big club with a shared vision and we’re all doing this because we want to – because we believe in it.
Revolution, not Evolution
Four years ago, when we were planning our very first conference, I wanted to call it Digital Revolution, but the team wanted to make it a bit more ‘user-friendly’. To this day I still find it appropriate. The whole point of a revolution is about working together. Many voices united is stronger and more powerful than one voice alone. If we continue to work together to create our digital nation, we can make a real and visible difference. We can’t be complacent here – we need change.
It was Tinder Foundation’s birthday on Tuesday 1 December and we’ve come so far in the last four years – but there’s still much work to be done. The Autumn Statement and Spending Review took place on the same day as our conference and it brought some welcome news; news that will help us continue our revolution – an additional £450 million has been allocated for the Government Digital Service. I can’t wait to see what will be achieved with this cash injection. I’m sure it will be a lot.
I’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone who attended Digital Evolution: Building a digital nation, thank you to all our partners, and thank you to our network of community partners. It’s the work they do that happens on the ground that really makes a difference. Thank you to all of our speakers and panellists on the day and especially thank you to Maggie Philbin for chairing. You were wonderful.
I can’t wait to see where we are and how many people our collective efforts have helped by 2016’s conference. Please keep doing what you’re doing, because together we can make a real difference. Until next year …