Digital skills in Sheffield: Just Google it!

We work with lots of partners across sectors to make good things happen with digital and to reach those 11.5m people without basic digital skills. One of those partners is Google and today I was delighted to speak at the launch of their Digital Garage, right on Good Things Foundation’s doorstep here in Sheffield.


With our new ways of working, we’re doing a lot more internationally – we’re setting up offices in Australia, we’ve done work in the Philippines and we’re doing a pilot project in Kenya. But Sheffield is my home and I’m so pleased that Google has chosen to open a Digital Garage here.  

Our project with Google is based around their Digital Garage training and it’s aim is to help learners improve their digital skills and grow their confidence or business online. It’s great for both small business owners and individuals looking to boost their CV.

I was delighted to be invited to speak at the launch, along side Sheffield Heeley MP and Shadow Digital Minister Louise Haigh and Vice President of Marketing for Google UK Torsten Schuppe.

Learners who attend the one-to-one mentoring, masterclasses and workshops here will be able to boost their digital skills, very much like Alison from Cheshire.

A mixing bowl of skills

Alison owns her own business called Alison’s Bespoke Cakes and Balloons, but being dyslexic she lacked the confidence needed to use computers and the internet. After a little convincing from her friend Sue, Community Librarian at Eccles Library in Salford, she decided to pop along to their Digital Garage classes to get the help she needed to boost her business.

Alison is still taking part in the classes but her knowledge and perspective on computers and the internet has come a long way. She now has a Facebook page and is working on a website and logo with a professional designer.

Alison is great example of how the Digital Garage is helping people to not only boost their skills but also their confidence in using computers and the internet to make their business a success.

How you can get involved?

If you think you can benefit from the free training at the Digital Garage, they’ll be in Sheffield for six months, so there’s plenty of time to pop in and see what it’s all about.

For those who need to get to grips with the basics, the Google staff will be on hand to get them started on Learn My Way, while those who are a bit further in their learning journey or are specifically looking to use digital to further their business will be using the Digital Garage resources.

Any Online Centres Network members who are based in Sheffield – Learn for Life, Southey Forum and Foxhill Forum, to name a few – feel free to drop in and see what’s happening.

You can find out more about the classes and book on to some of their sessions here.

An exciting future for Good Things Foundation

If you follow me or any of the team on Twitter, you’ll have noticed we’ve been advertising some exciting new jobs. These new jobs are part of a new way of working at Good Things Foundation that will see us grow as an organisation, develop new cohesive programmes that drive social change, and test and pilot the best approaches to helping people to improve their lives.

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Our mission is a world where everyone can benefit from digital. Everything we do is to help us achieve this mission. All our work is now focused in two new programmes: digital inclusion and social inclusion. We have projects and partnerships within these to ensure we’re having the biggest impact possible.

Our Digital Inclusion programme is led by Adam Micklethwaite. We want to close the digital divide once and for all, and ensure everyone has the skills, self efficacy and confidence to thrive in a digital world. The Digital Inclusion programme will include our large-scale DfE-funded Future Digital Inclusion programme, which has already helped hundreds of thousands of people to improve their basic digital skills, and it will include other important projects including training Digital Champions, developing new content, supporting rural hubs, and helping small businesses funded by partners including Lloyds Banking Group, Google, Prince’s Countryside Fund, and TalkTalk. The programme will also include place-based approaches, working with councils like Leeds and Sunderland. We’re also going global to share our digital inclusion expertise and ideas with projects in Australia.

Our Social Inclusion programme is headed up by Charlotte Murray. We want socially excluded people to have better lives and we achieve this by using digital to drive positive social outcomes and tackle some of our most pressing social challenges. Our Social Inclusion programme has at its heart tackling inequalities such as lack of English language skills, loneliness and isolation, and financial exclusion. The programme includes our work with the Money Advice Service, the Department for Communities and Local Government, Comic Relief, NHS, HMRC and the Big Lottery Fund. As with digital inclusion, we’re also going global with social inclusion with a pilot in Kenya to assess the social impact of digital literacy alongside the Sustainable Development Goals. Charlotte and her team will ensure what we’re doing in this space has deep impact on the most excluded in society today.

A third new Directorate will drive a new way of designing and innovating interventions that make a difference in digital and social inclusion. This new Design and Innovation Directorate is led by Bea Karol Burks. Our aim is to pilot and test new approaches to tackling both digital and social exclusion interventions and projects that can then be scaled. I’m really excited about this new approach that we’ll be taking, and piloting and design won’t just be a new team, but a new approach we’ll be taking to ensure our work is having an impact.

Thanks to everyone who has supported Good Things Foundation – from staff past and present, to our partners across the country who have made what we do possible. I’m really excited about the future, and I know we’ll continue to have a huge impact – through our network, our digital platforms, and our partnerships. If you think you can play a role, and you’re passionate about the things that we are, then do get in touch.