New year, new priorities
09 Jan 2015 |Written by Helen Milner OBE
This blog post was originally written at www.helenmilner.com
January is a time we traditionally all stop and think about where we’re going, why and how. So - in keeping with tradition - this blog sets out Good Things Foundation’s 2015 resolutions - and solutions. And we’ve got big plans.
For us, 2015 is a transformative year that will see us fighting the good digital fight on two fronts. Digital inclusion remains our core business, and this year we plan to do even more of it - working with our brilliant local and national partners. However, we also want to expand and grow the other parts of our strategy in 2015 - and do digital (and social) good that goes beyond digital participation.
As regular readers will know, the key ingredients in digital inclusion are motivation, skills and access, and - as ever - Good Things Foundation, the UK online centres network, and our partners, will be doing all three.
- Motivation-wise - our next campaign Be Online takes place from 23 February - 8 March. It follows a massively successful Get Online Week back in October, and will focus on health and skills for work. It’s a great opportunity for partners to work with us to spread the digital inclusion word, and help inspire more people to see what possibilities open up when you’re online. Hundreds of event holders have already signed up to take part, and packs will start heading out early next week. If you’ve made a resolution to do more for digital inclusion this year, get in touch and get involved.
- In terms of Skills, it’s our job this year to ensure we create 'confident and independent internet users’ with a little bit of help from our learning platform Learn My Way, which continues to develop to reflect the needs of both learners and centres. Yes, that still means online basics like getting to grips with keyboard, mouse and touchscreen. But it also means helping people develop skills that they continue to use to help and empower themselves - from shopping, to banking, keeping in touch with our new email course, and even democracy - taking part in local and national politics via digital means. Watch this very space for more before the end of the month…
- When it comes to Access, I’m looking forward to seeing the results of two exciting pilots in the first quarter of 2015 - our project with Vodafone to see how mobile broadband can affect internet use, and the Internet Start project with TalkTalk offering customers a cheap device and free broadband trial. It’s only with the support of key technology partners that we can crack the access gap, and I’d like to see this kind of project scaled up for UK online centres customers - and others - before the year is out.
Just as exciting as our plans for digital inclusion are our wider plans for doing good via digital - a new strand of our strategy that will grow throughout 2015. In essence, we want to address social challenges with digital solutions.
- Digital health has been an area Good Things Foundation has been working on for some time now, in partnership with NHS England (see my latest health blog here). The NHS does a great deal of social good, but its survival and development is a very real social challenge, and digital is one of the solutions I really believe can help it thrive. By April of this year (for instance) all GPs will have to offer at least 30% of appointments online, and I think Good Things Foundation is uniquely placed to support both GPs and patients reap the rewards of online health. The models piloted within our programme - like the work of Heeley Development Trust with Dr Ollie Hart - is something we plan to build on during 2015.
- English My Way launched last year, and has already helped hundreds of people use free digital resources to get to grips with English as their second language. This is just part of the work UK online centres do across the country to support integration, facilitate understanding and build successful local communities. Digital is a gateway to community participation and cohesion, and it’s another area we want to explore, track and share this year.
- Digital access to learning is a third strand for social good we will focus on for 2015. I wrote back in December about our Innovate UK research and development project, which will see us look in detail at how we might improve access to and participation in wider community and adult learning by using digital tools.
Beyond these examples, this year Good Things Foundation is resolved to continue exploring how we can work with hyper-local partners in the very poorest of communities, reaching out to those experiencing the biggest challenges in their lives. We already work in pockets with the long term unemployed, people struggling with little money or debt, homeless people, and people with long term and debilitating health issues. What more can we do to make good things happen for those people, with the help of digital technology? How can we identify best practice, share it, and most importantly scale it across the country?
As ever, let me have your thoughts and ideas. And let’s see where 2015 takes us - blog by blog - over the next exciting 12 months.
Happy New Year.