Six things you don’t want to miss at this year’s Digital Evolution conference

I’ll soon be back from Australia – thankfully, just in time for our annual Digital Evolution conference. For me, this is a highlight of the year as not only do I get to meet inspirational and knowledgeable members of the Online Centres Network, but it’s also a great opportunity to catch-up with partners and stakeholders from the various different organisations we work with.

I’m looking forward to the whole event but here are six things in particular that I really can’t wait for.

Design differently

Since we established our new Design and Innovation Directorate in April, they’ve been helping the Good Things Foundation team to do things differently. This includes everything from designing interventions for some of our hardest to reach users, to helping us work more efficiently as a team together. Now, we want to share these new approaches with you, to help you discover new and exciting ways to tackle digital and social exclusion in your community. We’ll be talking about quick techniques used by some of the most successful organisations in the world – something you really don’t want to miss.

Celebrity guests

For the past two years, our conference has been chaired by the wonderful Maggie Philbin OBE, and we’re delighted she is chairing the conference again this year. Maggie is the co-founder and CEO of TeenTech CIC and has presented for the BBC, including on TV shows that I love such as Tomorrow’s World and Bang Goes the Theory. She’s always interested in hearing about how people are using digital for good and I just know, as always, that she will be a wonderful addition to the conference agenda.

Industry experts

We’re welcoming a great variety of speakers who are all bringing something unique to the table. The conference will cover a range of themes, including the power of technology for good and how we can achieve a stronger Britain through digital, so I’m sure you’ll unearth plenty of questions and ideas to discuss with fellow delegates during the day – and afterwards.

A problem shared is a problem halved

The conference is a great opportunity to meet other Online Centres and those working in the fields of digital and social inclusion. We’re all in this together as a big club with a shared vision, so whether you’re meeting over a coffee or a sandwich, or if you simply get chatting to the person you’re sitting next to, it’s a great opportunity to make new contacts, share new ideas and get some advice to help you tackle any problems or issues you may be facing.

Our showcase session

We’ve brought together three very knowledgeable individuals to really get into the nitty-gritty of digital and social inclusion and tell us how those two things are so very closely linked: our COO & Director of Social Inclusion Charlotte Murray; Good Things Foundation board member and programme lead at Starting Point Online Centre, Nicola Wallace Dean; and Amy O’Donnell, ICT in Programme Lead from Oxfam. This is sure to be a thought-provoking session and one not to be missed.

Raise a toast with us

And sixth, I’m really looking forward to our post-conference drinks reception. Those who have attended previous Digital Evolutions will know that we usually have a pre-conference event or an unconference. This year, we’re doing things differently hosting this informal gathering at the BT Centre after the event. This is a great opportunity to mingle with those who you haven’t yet spoken to and with the drinks included in the price of your ticket, it’s certainly a less stressful alternative to pushing your way through the busy London rush hour, and helps that hanging around for the off-peak tickets home.

See you there 🙂

Sold? Book your tickets now.

Digital Revolution and a gateway for change

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.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 15.13.43

Our vision

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.

Thank you

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 …

Leaving Nobody Behind

After all of the excitement of our Digital evolution events on Tuesday and Wednesday, I’ve finally found time to blog, and what a few days it’s been!

This is the third year we’ve run the Digital evolution conference, and I’ve got to say it gets better every year. It’s just brilliant to bring together such a positive, can-do bunch of people who have a real commitment to making things happen, and making things better, for the people they’re supporting in their communities.

This year, the focus of the conference was on leaving nobody behind, and people saw the conference as a rallying cry to close the digital divide once and for all. I talked to delegates about the enormous social and financial benefits of basic online skills, and I presented our A leading digital nation by 2020 report, that we published in February, which for the first time ever sets out clearly the cost of getting everyone in the UK online. It’s great having these figures as it gives us something to aim for, and a clear ask in terms of investment.

I also spoke about the focus that we need to put on really getting to the hardest to reach. I know I’m preaching to the converted when speaking to UK online centres about this, but as more and more people get online, we need to start trying to reach those who are most excluded, as they’re the ones who can benefit the most from what the internet has to offer.

Rachel Neaman gave a great speech; she talked about her new role as CEO of Go ON UK, and her ambitions for the organisation. One thing that Rachel said really stuck with me, that “1 in 5 of our adult population doesn’t have basic digital skills and this a national problem and a national disgrace.” She also talked about digital as the fourth basic skill, alongside reading, writing and arithmetic. This ambition really resonated with the audience, and with this kind of clarity I’m confident that Rachel will have a big impact in her role heading up Go ON UK.

All the delegates and speakers had such a positive attitude – everyone spoke as a real doer, not just a talker. This was only emphasised by our final two speakers – Steven Roberts from Barclays who leads the bank’s Digital Eagles programme, and Dominic Campbell of Futuregov, who is aiming to revolutionise the delivery of public services. They both have a great can-do attitude, which I think really sums up the conference.

I’m confident that every single person at the conference will go away and do something else, new, additional, to help close the digital divide – whether big or small. I certainly came away feeling really inspired, and I hope that if you were there, you did too. You can take a look through what was discussed through the #digievol14 hashtag, and you can look at our Storify here.