A big week for politics (and football)

I’m one of those people who listens every morning to the Today Programme (even when I’m in Australia), follows political commentators on Twitter, and who in general feels up to date with politics. However, this week it’s been hard to keep up both on the national level but also here in Good Things Foundation world.

A very French outing

At the end of last week, I sat on a panel at the Local Government Authority conference in Birmingham with three other people, including Debbie Brown, Transformation Director at Salford City Council – a key player in our Digital You project.

From Birmingham, I zoomed off to Paris to attend the France UK Digital Colloque, a meeting of the UK and French digital ministers where they agreed to join forces and share expertise on AI and research, working together to improve digital services, collaborating to develop tech talent. I sat on a panel with some very inspirational women in tech where we discussed inclusion and diversity. It was a great event and I appreciated being invited by Matt Hancock, though this ended up being my last outing with him as Digital Minister.

Digital Colloque

At the France UK Digital Colloque with Debbie Forster and Claire Calmejane


This leads me on to…

Following the resignation of some of the Conservative Cabinet the then Secretary of State for DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) Matt Hancock became the new Secretary of State for Health, with Jeremy Wright replacing him as SoS at DCMS.

Welcome to Mr Wright and I hope he gets the importance of driving digital inclusion and basic digital skills as much as his predecessor did. The team here at Good Things Foundation are very excited to develop our relationship and work together to help the country reach its digital potential.

And of course we’re keen to keep working with Matt Hancock – our work on Health and Digital/Social Inclusion is now in its second phase and we’re innovating with CCGs and others around the country – something I’m sure the new Secretary of State at Health will be interested in.

And finally…

I was one of those people who on Wednesday night sat on their sofa and shouted at the telly to encourage our football team. We were all a little blue in the Good Things Foundation office yesterday after England’s defeat to Croatia in the World Cup semi-final.

Luckily, we were holding a workshop in the office for the Online Centres who are delivering our Voicebox Cafes project – that’s giving women a voice in democracy – being run with Helen Jones MP, the Chair of Parliament’s Petitions Committee. This cheered everyone up, as we’re always happy to meet the amazing people who work in Online Centres and we were honoured to have Helen Jones in our offices working with us and the centres.

The workshop was going great… then it got even better when Sheffield Lord Mayor Magid Magid and comedian and actor Rufus Hound turned up with some ‘World Cup commiseration’ sweets to cheer everyone up on their Sheffield #SweetTweetTour. Magid even managed to come in and speak to the people in the workshop and meet Helen Jones.


Magid meets Helen Jones MP


It was good fun and great to see members of the Green Party and the Labour Party getting along so well!

An interesting week in politics – which has moved onto the Donald Trump visit (which I won’t comment on here).

A slightly surreal rollercoaster of a week but one that ended with the Good Things Foundation team posing for a great photo with Magid and Rufus Hound, and eating Skittles and Haribo. What more could we ask for?


An unexpected surprise

#LocalDigitalSkills – making digital inclusion happen, together

The unique selling point of the Online Centres Network is the localised approach for digital skills learning that only they can provide. Being the CEO of Good Things Foundation for the past six and a half years, I know this area well, so I was delighted to be asked to chair the local arm of DCMS’ Digital Skills Partnership (DSP) as part of my role on the DSP Board, along with MB Christie from Tech Nation. I hope you caught up with my and MB’s blog when we announced this in February – it’s worth a look if you’ve not read it.

Just before Easter we hosted a ‘Creative Summit’ in Sheffield, bringing together people from tech companies, Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), the Online Centres Network, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department for Education (DfE), and others, to talk about localised approaches to digital skills learning. This is a bigger agenda than ‘just’ digital inclusion as it includes all levels of digital skills for everyone at all ages, including businesses and charities, and recruiting talent. Because digital skills are essential for economic strength and social inclusion.

And we have a big ambition – we want there to be Local Digital Skills Partnerships all over the country. It’s a very big tent as everyone has different experience and a different area of expertise to contribute. When we all have a shared goal it makes sense for us to join forces, rather than work against each other.

At our Creative Summit we kicked off the co-production of a Local Digital Skills ‘Playbook’ – part guide/framework and part inspirational examples. Or it will be! The Playbook is currently in draft form and will be launched, in draft, on our Local Digital Skills Partnership (LDSP) Medium publication very soon. And we’ll be asking everyone who’s interested to take part in refining and adding to the final version. Adopting this joined up approach to creating an important product like this is exactly what we need to make sure it’s relevant, effective, and can become a real tool for success. Watch this blog as I’ll let you know as soon as the public draft is launched.

I was pleased that we had representatives from Local Enterprise Partnerships at the event. LEPs are a collective of local authorities and businesses from an area. In England there are 38 LEPs and the impact and influence they have means they can make a real difference on the subjects that really matter.

For this project they can play an important part, representing the views in their respective regions and, following the publication of the first ‘Playbook’, bringing it forward and using it as a tool to make digital skills happen for people and businesses in their areas.


Me and MB at the Creative Summit

The Creative Summit was a great session and I’d like to once again thank everyone who attended. The next one will be held in the Summer and I’m sure by then that the Playbook will have evolved and developed into a truly useful and exciting tool. If you’d like to be on the invite list do let me know.

I can’t wait to see where this takes us.