Seeing is believing

I’m currently in Australia working on the Be Connected project, setting up a new network of digital inclusion centres in Australia, quite similar to the Online Centres Network in the UK. A lot of what I do is inspired by the amazing work of the Online Centres and that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about using our UK experience here on the other side of the world. Now, thanks to two new videos which we launched in the UK last week, I can share that amazing work with others too.

The first video is about the impact of the Online Centres Network. The story is told by a handful of network members and it’s their passion and commitment to improving people’s lives and their communities through teaching digitals skills that really puts the point across in this video. I always say that Good Things Foundation and the Online Centres Network is a big club with a shared vision and I think this video really shows that we’re all in it together. Take a look and see for yourself.

If you run a community organisation or you know of one and you’d like to explore the benefits of joining the Online Centres Network more, take a look at our second video because not only does it summarise everything that being a member has to offer, it shows how great it is being a part of this big club.

If you’re a member of the Online Centres Network, if you believe in the work we do and share our vision for a world where everyone benefits from digital, or if you simply love the videos and feel inspired by them, please do share them on your channels (websites or social media) and spread the word about the Online Centres Network and all the amazing and dedicated individuals who are working hard everyday to help people overcome social challenges.

We did it… We helped tens of thousands to #Try1Thing!

This time last week, I was sad to wave goodbye to Get Online Week. That’s right, it’s over for another year and it really has been another great week.

Organisations of all shapes and sizes across the UK held events to help learners both old and new to #try1thing different online.

I was personally pretty nervous to try one thing that I didn’t know how to do online. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it! If you recall my blog from last week, the one thing I was going to try was creating a vlog. Well, here it is. My colleagues at Good Things Foundation have said it’s a really impressive piece of work considering I’ve never filmed or edited a video by myself before. I think it’s OK, and I really enjoyed being challenged. What do you think?

A well-travelled team

The Good Things Foundation team were out and about visiting events in lots of different places. Harriet, one of our learning designers went to a couple of events, including Joining Communities/Leigh Hackspace. She says: “Becca at Joining Communities had organised a 4-day course for learners and I joined them on the 4th day. Learners had spent the first few days of the course researching the history of Leigh online, learning about their local community in the archives and then taking pictures of the town as it is now on tablets. We went to Leigh Hackspace and edited the images of Leigh past and present and then made jigsaws of their creations!”


My colleague Kevin went to the Library of Birmingham for an event organised by Catalyst Mutual CIC. He said: “The team were really passionate about helping their local communities, the library event was just one of several in different locations during the week. I met some lovely Brummies who all felt they could do with learning more online. Learning new languages was popular so we got some DuoLingo practice going.”

Kevin on DuoLingo

And one more story came from Online Centres Network Specialist Jonathan who went to Cottsway Housing in Oxford, a social housing organisation who offer their residents the opportunity to develop their basic digital skills. He said: “One learner that stood out to me was called Susan. It was the first time that she had seen Learn My Way and was really enthusiastic about how much this would help her. She thanked me numerous times for helping her register. It was a really great event. The Online Centre received one of our £500 Get Online Week grants and had a professional photographer and catering from a social enterprise that employed people with learning disabilities.”


And me? I went to one of two events at Whitehall, organised by Chad Bond of the Government Digital Service. I went to a similar event last year but they were so successful Chad organised them again this year. It was a great event with lots of people from different government departments turning up, keen to chat to us and find out what one thing they could try online. This was also a great opportunity for me to record footage for my vlog.

Chad Bond

I really do love Get Online Week. It always reminds me of the thousands of organisations and people who are all determined to reach and support others to do more and thrive in a digital world.

We think we’ve reached over 50,000 people but we won’t know until the numbers have been counted in a couple of weeks.

As I say, it’s about people, not technology. People coming together to share their experiences and their willingness to help others.

That’s the true beauty of Get Online Week.


Today sees the start of the eleventh annual Get Online campaign – the biggest digital inclusion campaign in the country. With over 1,000 organisations registered to take part, there will be thousands of events taking place in communities across the country, where people can get free and friendly help to Try 1 Thing.

We’ll be asking thousands of people to do just one thing online that they usually do offline. It could be their first online shopping experience or video call with friends or relatives, setting up online banking, booking a GP appointment, claiming benefits, or applying for a job online: anything that they haven’t had the skills or confidence to try before.

Why are we doing it?

Earlier this year we released a piece of research in partnership with BT and Professor Simeon Yates from the University of Liverpool analysing the 2015 Ofcom Media Literacy Survey – The real digital divide?. This broke down the demographics of people who are not utilising the full benefits of the internet. We found that there were people who did not use the internet very often but also there were people – previously thought of as internet users – who use the internet every day but only use two or three websites or apps. We called these two groups limited users.

In today’s digital society it’s more important than ever not to leave people behind and that’s why campaigns like Get Online Week are so important.

There were so many great stories from our ‘poster men and women’ of the campaign. Ravi Sundararajan is one of them. When he was younger, his prospects for the future were looking better than ever but a change in circumstances meant that he found himself homeless and alone. He was picked up by a homeless charity and eventually found his way to Adult Education Gloucestershire where he’s learnt digital skills, built his confidence back up and is feeling better than ever.

My plans

As always I will be out visiting events throughout the week, as will other Good Things Foundation staff. We’re all really looking forward to it as it’s a great opportunity for us to get out there, on the ground, and experience the great work that the Online Centres Network do firsthand.

There were a couple of fun new additions to the marketing pack this year – the #try1thing cut out and the #try1thing bingo game. Here’s me with the cut out – the one thing that I’m trying online is making a vlog about Get Online Week (and I’m a bit scared about it actually). I’d love it if you could use the cutout and encourage others (colleagues or even friends and family) to do so too to show us what you’ve been up to during the week. The bingo is a great way to engage learners and there’s lots of different ways you can play it. Check out the Get Online Week website to find them out.

Helen's blog

As well as community partners holding campaign events, Get Online Week is also supported by committed private sector partners and I’m delighted that Lloyds Banking Group is sponsoring Get Online Week for the second year running. Lloyds are leaders in digital inclusion, having trained thousands of their staff as Digital Champions and pledged to help millions of people, businesses and charities improve their digital skills. Their support is vital in addressing digital exclusion across the UK. Thank you. 

That’s all from me for now but I’ll be back blogging again after the campaign to share all the wonderful things that I see and do. To everyone taking part, have an amazing week and together we can help tens of thousands of people to #try1thing online.