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.

Get Online Week: The campaign may be over but the fun’s just beginning

As quickly as it came around Get Online Week is over for another year – and what a spectacular campaign it was! A very fitting and busy celebration for a tenth birthday indeed.

Get Online Week is a great opportunity for the UK online centres network, and everyone else who wants to spread the digital inclusion message, to jump on the bandwagon and reach the 12.6 million people without basic digital skills, to show them how much easier a life online can be.

A front row seat

The Tinder Foundation team got out and about throughout the week to see Get Online Week activity firsthand and everyone was so impressed by all the great work they saw. I personally made it my goal to celebrate the big one zero by visiting ten different events. By the time I got home on Friday I was very tired but very pleased to have met so many wonderful people and seen so much exciting activity happening.

  1. Learn for Life, Sheffield

I visited Learn for Life in Sheffield with my colleague Boryana. It was so wonderful to catch up with the team there and meet all the learners who were finding out about all the wonderful stuff they could do online through Learn My Way and English My Way. Learn for Life supports refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, as well as people from the local community. It really feels like a family there, it was so busy and vibrant. A great start to the week.


  1. Edlington Hilltop Centre, Doncaster

On the Tuesday I popped across to Doncaster to visit Edlington Hilltop. The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that Rachel and Rob, two of our Get Online Week poster stars, were from this centre. It was lovely to chat to the team there and to hear about all the great stuff they were doing. I can’t believe they achieve everything that they do with just 2.5 staff (or full time equivalents) – they can only do it with the hundreds of volunteers they have.


With Get Online Week star Rob, and Edlington Hilltop’s Centre Manager Rob


  1. Rotherham Libraries

After visiting Edlington Hilltop I went across to Rotherham Libraries who were using Get Online Week as an excuse to get out to five different locations. I visited them at a coffee shop in the centre of Rotherham. They had a great set up to register people as members of the Library, and then talk to them about eBooks and the internet. However, I did meet an older woman who didn’t want to ever use the internet. However persuasive I tried to be, she wasn’t budging. I hope I planted some seeds about the benefits to her of being online and that Rotherham Libraries can nudge her a bit more next time they meet. Everyone at the cafe was so nice, and I have to say, 10/10 for cakes and coffee!


  1. The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London

A few steps from Trafalgar Square and I was in this amazing day centre. From digital skills drop-in and lessons, to the provision of job interview clothes, this centre does everything they can to help homeless people in the capital. I gave one Big Issue salesman, Steve, his Learn My Way certificate, and spoke to lots of men, both learners and volunteers about their stories. Steve told me he used Facebook to communicate with his family via his phone but he knew nothing about email and searching. He was happy to learn that the internet had so much more to offer. A great visit.


He said that gesture meant victory! Victory indeed for Get Online Week 2016


  1. Lloyds Charity Digital Skills workshop

A big thank you to our campaign sponsors, Lloyds Banking Group. The balloons, pens and notepads went down a treat and I was delighted to attend their Charity Digital Skills workshop on the Wednesday evening. More than 100 people were there to learn more about digital. Lloyds also launched their UK Business Digital Index 2016 on Wednesday to coincide with Get Online week.


  1. Peabody Darwin Court

The team at Peabody Darwin Court in London were so nice and it was surprising to see that they had a whopping five volunteers to support all of the people learning digital skills. Covering everything from job searching to copy and paste, it really was great to see people of all skill levels learning something new during Get Online Week.


  1. Cabinet Office Get Online Week event

I had a lovely time at Whitehall on Thursday lunchtime chatting to people from DWP and Jobcentre Plus Maidstone. It was great to hear how digital skills is now playing a bigger part in their day-to-day jobs, and I was delighted to show them how they can become a UK online centre and use Learn My Way to teach clients about all the wonderful stuff there is online to help them with their job search. It was a really insightful event and I hope we can work together in the future. Thank you to Chad Bond, from GDS, for organising these events throughout the week.


8, 9 and 10. I spent the Friday visiting three centres across Liverpool: Liverpool Carers Centre, Mersey Learn (at Mersey Travel) and Kensington Community Learning Centre.

They were all doing such great stuff and there was even a raffle game at Kensington where learners would receive a free raffle ticket for each online activity they completed. Alan Tapp, at Kensington (Liverpool), should help us out with next year’s toolkit – he had prizes from local businesses, he had an online games competition, and a huge turnout for his event.


Talking to amazing carers about Twitter. Communication is so important for people who are often at home alone with those that they are caring for


Louise Ellman MP at Mersey Learn at Mersey Travel


Pulling out prizes from the box at Kensington Community Learning Centre


The fun’s just beginning

Get Online Week 2016 was a truly brilliant campaign. I visited these ten events but I saw so much more happening across social media – look up the hashtag #GOLW16 to see how much was happening and other great photos from the thousands of events around the country.

We may have reached even more people over the past week, teaching them digital skills that they can use to make their lives easier, but the stats still speak for themselves. There are still 12.6 million people in the UK who aren’t able to access the online world and it’s so important that we’re there to offer them support.

Get Online Week is like getting a dog for Christmas – Get Online Week is for life. It’s so much more than a seven-day campaign; it’s an accelerator for activity throughout the rest of the year. Get Online Week may be over, but the fun is only just beginning.

Happy birthday Get Online Week!

The year’s biggest digital inclusion campaign is finally here and this year it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. We all like to celebrate on our birthday and Get Online Week is no different. This year is it’s 10th birthday – the eagle-eyed among you will remember that the very first one was a Get Online Day. Since then the campaign has grown every year, from Get Online Day to Get Online Week; from hundreds of events taking place across the country to thousands. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store this year – especially as I’m going to 10 events to celebrate our 10th anniversary.


Tinder Foundation’s Director of Business and Innovation Adam Micklethwaite at a Get Online Week event this morning


The Get Online Week team at Tinder Foundation HQ have informed me that there’s well over 1,100 organisations taking part this year which is amazing. Thank you to everyone for signing up and for committing to host events that will reach new people in your community, showing them how big a difference technology and the internet can make to their lives.

If there are any doubters who are apprehensive about the power of online, you only have to look at this year’s campaign stars to see the impact it can have. Watch the story from Christina Wheatley who has used the internet to grow the reputation, business and influence of her social enterprise, Edible Avondale SE1, which teaches groups of young people food growing and DIY skills in the South Bermondsey area of Southwark. A real inspiration to small business owners across the UK!

Or what about Arthur and Sue? A heartwarming father and daughter who use the internet to stay in touch since Sue and her family moved to Cornwall. Arthur says that “Technology makes it feel like [they] are together.” And not forgetting Rob Smedley from the Edlington Hilltop UK online centre near Doncaster. Rob used his newfound digital skills to beat the “wilderness” of unemployment and move into full time work, helping others to get online and find work too.

There are so many inspirational people fronting this year’s campaign. If you haven’t heard their stories yet, please do take a look across on the Get Online Week website.

All fun and games

Don’t forget to use the brand new Get Online Week game to engage all the new learners coming along to your events. It’s been developed especially for people with little or no internet skills or experience – though it can be fun for those who are a bit more advanced too – and it’s a really enjoyable way to get a taste of some of the things that being online can help with. Check it out using the “Play the game” button on the Learn My Way homepage.

And finally

I’m so pleased that Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, paid a visit to a drop in session at St Vincent’s Close Sheltered Housing in Girton today to get the campaign off to a flying start. Seeing such a high profile person supporting Get Online Week is truly encouraging and such a huge testament to how much the campaign has grown in the past ten years. I hope you enjoyed the visit Minister.


Matt Hancock MP chatting to one of the learners at the Get Online Week event this morning


My favourite bit of Get Online Week, along with my event visits (I’m really looking forward to them all this year), is seeing the campaign activity happening across the UK on social media. The Tinder Foundation team will be posting about their visits using the hashtag #GOLW16 and I’d love for you to do it too. Facebook; Instagram; Twitter; I want to see campaign activity across them all. #GOLW16 – let’s do it! And keep an eye out because we’ll be sharing and reposting as much as we can throughout the week.

Have a great Get Online Week everyone!

Get Online Week – when anything can happen

Get Online Week is unpredictable. I saw endless amounts digital inclusion activity, both in person and online, and met a lot of inspiring and wonderful people. Some things I expected – meeting socially excluded learners, meeting the great volunteers who work so hard, and seeing the different things our community partners have to offer – but some things were unexpected and pleasant surprises – such as the popularity of our City and Guilds Online Basics qualification and the success of Exeter Library’s Fab Lab. All in all, it was a wonderfully successful week for me, my team and our vast network of community partners.

The Tinder Foundation team visited almost every corner of the UK. I visited an event in Sheffield at Longley 4G, and went down to Exeter to visit two centres, St Loyes and St Sidwell’s, as well as Exeter Library. I had a very different experience in all of them and it really opened my eyes to the reality of digital and social exclusion and the need for digital equality.

Team work

In an ideal world I’d have been able to visit all the Get Online Week events but unfortunately that’s not possible for one woman to do in seven days, so the Tinder Foundation team were my little helpers for the week and went out in their masses to visit all kinds of centres in different parts of the country.

I can’t stop shouting about the work we’re doing with libraries at the moment – it’s a subject that’s really close to my heart – and lots of my colleagues managed to pay visits to different libraries. Our Finance Director, Margaret, went to Oxford Library to say hello and see what they’re up to; our Head of Digital, James, popped along to Goldthorpe Library to help people try out different devices for getting online; and one of our newest additions to the team, our Research Intern, Sharon (who’s working very hard on our Libraries Digital Inclusion Fund project) visited Chesterfield Library to interview one of their learners for the project. This is just to name a few…

Margaret GOLW visit

Margaret really enjoyed her visit to Oxford Library

Some of us visited familiar haunts – our Senior Learning and Development Coordinator, Alison, went to Destinations@Saltburn for their employment-focussed event – and some of us went to completely new locations – Wider Network Manager, Caroline, visited our new partners, Remploy, in Sunderland to see how they’re getting on.

Some of us went further afield. Our Director of Business and Innovation, Adam, went all the way down to Somerset Media Solutions in Chard for their brilliantly named ‘TechNOphobia’ event, while our Content Marketing Officer, Sam, went to Prestonpans just outside of Edinburgh for their library’s employment drop-in session – and our Head of Marketing, Communications and Bids, Anna, went to Barrow Libraries to see their Digital Surgery with local MP, John Woodcock, in action. She was very impressed with the event, which around 40 people attended.


Some of the wonderful people Adam met at Somerset Media Solutions

Even the Ministers were getting involved

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the fun. I was thrilled to see Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey MP, out and about, visiting Erith Park in Bexley, part of housing association, Orbit Group. I think it’s important for the government to acknowledge digital inclusion, after all, they are the ones who can make the big things happen, and the fact that Ed took the time to get involved with our campaign was wonderful.

He showed his support by taking part in their innovative Walk the Talk tour which helps build community engagement through the use of a ‘digital suitcase’. Residents can get involved by passing the suitcase from person to person and using an old-fashioned telephone inside to record stories.

Orbit Group are also doing other wonderful things. The residents said that they love where they live but find it difficult to get to know their neighbours, so interactive screens have been set up in stairwells for neighbours to take selfies, leave messages and introduce themselves to kick-start interactions with their future friends.

They’re doing some really great and innovative work in the field of digital and this was recognised by the Minister: “The work being done in Erith Park is brilliant and it’s great to see Bexley taking part in the nationwide Get Online Week initiative. Getting online and embracing new technology is becoming more and more important in this digital age, and I congratulate all involved in this innovative scheme aimed at using technology to build community engagement.”

12-10-2015 Picture shows : Ed Vaizey MP tours new development Erith Park in Kent. Carl Fox 07966 349 562 www.carlfoxphoto.com

Ed Vaizey MP tours new development Erith Park in Kent. Image courtesy of Carl Fox (www.carlfoxphoto.com) via Digital By Default News

Dare devils

To top off the week, in a big end of campaign twist, our Director of Business and Innovation, Adam, along with TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding and Go ON UK’s Rachel Neaman, abseiled 120ft down TalkTalk’s Shepherd’s Bush office – all in the name of digital inclusion.

I applaud their bravery and the fact that the promise of the Get Online Week abseil encouraged hundreds of TalkTalk employees to share their digital skills as volunteers at local UK online centres. A big pat on the back to all!

Adam gets ready for the abseil

Adam gets ready for the abseil

I think this has been one of our most successful and eventful Get Online Weeks to date. The #GOLW15 hashtag was used almost 2400 times over the week and our social media campaign, #EasierOnline, almost 1200 times. On top of that #getonlineweek was used almost 900 times. I really enjoyed seeing all your pictures and posts. Here are a few of my favourites below:

Thank you to everyone who posted on Twitter and Facebook

Thank you to everyone who posted on Twitter and Facebook

Next year’s campaign will be our ten-year anniversary, so we’ll be aiming to make that our biggest and best Get Online Week yet, but if this year is anything to go by it’s going to be a hard one to beat. Maybe I should encourage the Tinder Foundation team to do a Get Online Week skydive…

A touching trip to Longley 4G

This morning I went to my first Get Online Week event of 2015 at Longley 4G Community Centre in Sheffield. It was a truly touching and enlightening experience.


There were a lot of people there who regularly attend the centre. People of different ages, from different backgrounds but for many of them the story was the same: they were unemployed and struggling to find work.

It was heartbreaking to hear some of their stories. The gentleman with me in the picture below is called Phillip. He is in his early 60s and suffers some health issues. He worked the same job for 25 years, a job which he enjoyed, and unfortunately was made redundant from. Since coming to Longley 4G he’s been applying for several jobs each week, sometimes as many as 20, but he never hears anything back.


Stories like this are the reason why we do what we do. Get Online Week is about having fun, a chat and a cup of tea, but it’s really about informal events that are welcoming to everyone – including those with very real challenges, such as unemployment. Campaigns like Get Online Week highlight these issues and, more importantly, encourage people to start their journey to a more positive future – to really grab hold of what they want.


To the learners and team at Longley 4G, thank you so much for having me today and for telling me your stories. Not only did I enjoy meeting you all and spending time in your company, but it also made me more determined than ever to make sure everyone has access to equal opportunities in life.


Your pictures have been flooding in. You’re all so creative, and I didn’t know there were so many things that can be made much simpler by using the internet. Here are some of my favourites from the past 24 hours:

GOLW15 Tuesday

I’m looking forward to seeing even more of your #EasierOnline pictures posted on social media. Don’t forget to post pictures of your events too using the #GOLW15 hashtag. I’m visiting two centres tomorrow – St Loyes and St Sitwell Centre – and Exeter Library to meet everyone there, including Ciara Eastell, whom I mentioned in my blog yesterday. I cannot wait!

Get Online Week begins…

I woke up this morning feeling really upbeat about the week ahead, because today is the start of our ninth annual Get Online Week and there’s lots of exciting things happening all across the country.

I cannot believe our big digital inclusion campaign is in it’s ninth year already – doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun? And speaking of fun, I have a busy calendar of events lined up, that I can’t wait to get started on. This is what I have planned so far:

Helen's calendar1

I love visiting our network of community partners and the best thing about Get Online Week is that it gives me the perfect excuse to spend an entire week out of the office meeting centre staff, volunteers, and learners.

One event that I’m particularly looking forward to is Wednesday’s trip to Exeter Library. I am a big fan of libraries (my colleagues here at Tinder Foundation can vouch for that) and I firmly believe that they play a very important role in communities across the UK. In order to support libraries to deliver digital inclusion activity, we recently launched a new project called the Libraries Digital Inclusion Fund, where we awarded funding to sixteen libraries to deliver innovative activities with the aim of reducing digital exclusion in their communities.

The project is giving us a great opportunity to work with libraries and I believe it will do a fantastic job raising awareness of the great work that they do. For me and my team, Get Online Week is the perfect excuse to go out and visit a library. I am certainly looking forward to mine, as I’ll be meeting up with Ciara Eastell the President of the Society of Chief Librarians and the Head of Libraries, Culture & Heritage for Devon County Council. You can be rest assured that I will be discussing all the great work being done in libraries, across the UK online centres network and beyond.

As usual one of the biggest parts of our campaign is social media. Anything you do this week that’s even slightly Get Online Week-related, I want to see it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or whichever channel it is that you use. Post it with the hashtag #GOLW15 and we’re guaranteed to see it.

Last week I posted my #EasierOnline photo too. I’m sure you managed to see it, but if not I’ve posted it here below, along with a couple of others from my team.


As part of the campaign we’re asking everyone to get involved and post a picture on social media of something that’s much easier online. Whether that’s booking your cinema ticket, buying pet food, catching up on TV shows or chatting with family abroad; if it’s easier online, post it with the hashtag for the whole world to see.

I’ll be blogging about my visits to fill you in on my experiences. I’ll let you know where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, who I’ve met, and my thoughts on the campaign so far. I’m off to Longley 4G here in Sheffield tomorrow, and I cannot wait.

Until then…Happy Get Online Week!