Digital inclusion action leaps into spring
Good Things Foundation’s Group CEO, Helen Milner OBE, blogs about our exciting plans coming up this quarter.
I love spring: the first daffodils, the longer days, sunshine in my bedroom urging me to leap out of bed. I can’t quite believe it’s spring – time flies when you’re busy fixing the digital divide!
The first few months of 2023 has seen Good Things Foundation already make significant strides towards our goals of growing the National Digital Inclusion Network and supporting digitally excluded people across the UK with access to data, devices and digital skills.
So far this year we’ve grown the network, expanded the reach of the National Databank, and working hard on scaling the National Device Bank. Last month I was thrilled to give oral evidence about digital exclusion and the cost-of-living crisis to the House of Lords. I used the opportunity to talk about the urgency of the issue – more so now in today’s economic climate – and outline how we can together fix the digital divide, for good. You can read more about this here.
The actions we’re prioritising, with our partners, is to deliver our strategy we published last year. Of course, all of this is made possible with the support of our network and Strategic Partners (Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone).
Now that spring has officially sprung, what’s next?
We’re growing the National Digital Inclusion Network
In 2023 so far, we’ve welcomed over 200 local partners as Digital Inclusion Hubs as part of the National Digital Inclusion Network. This is a fantastic achievement, one that means more and more people in the UK will have somewhere local to go and get help accessing and using the internet. We’re welcoming new organisations to the network every week, just take a look at our latest tweet showcasing the newest members.
These hubs are absolutely central to fixing the digital divide, they deliver invaluable digital inclusion support to the people who need it and working together across communities and across the country makes a huge difference to thousands of people’s lives every month. This quarter we’ll be working hard to recruit even more organisations, helping them to embed digital inclusion into their support offer. If you’re an organisation that is interested in delivering digital inclusion in your local community, find out more about joining the network here.
(In case you’re wondering, in line with our new strategy we’ve moved from calling the network the Online Centres Network to the National Digital Inclusion Network – it’s clearer that it’s about throwing our arms and our offers around all local organisations helping local people to get help with digital exclusion. It’s “a big club with a shared vision”, it’s free to be part of, and it’s welcoming to any local organisation big or small or shares the vision of a nation where a digital divide no longer exists.)
We’re launching a new map and directory
Next month we’re launching a map and directory to highlight where these thousands of local Digital Inclusion Hubs are and what they support they can offer. This will make it extra easy for people to search for and find support in their local area. I can’t wait to share the map with you all very soon. (I really am very excited about this and the difference it will make to being able to promote digital inclusion far and wide!)
We’re bringing you a new and improved version of Learn My Way
Spring 2023 will also see the launch of the next generation of Learn My Way, our free platform for digital learning. The new site has lots of exciting new features; users can tailor their own learning programme, choose from a range of bitesize topics, and access the platform from multiple devices. Learn My Way is an integral part of us achieving our goal of engaging one million people (2022-2025) and making sure people have the digital skills they need to participate fully in the online world. We’ve got support from Google.org that includes helping us to grant fund our new Learn My Way Ambassadors, who will be representing the unique National Digital Inclusion Network, promoting our services, supporting our strategic partnerships and providing us with essential feedback and insights from those who are digitally excluded.
- A1 Community Works – Rural Yorkshire
- ACDA Training – West London
- Music and Digital Swansea
- Learn for Life – Sheffield
- Go-Woman Alliance – Birmingham
- North Manchester Community Partnership (working with Wai Yin) – Manchester
We can’t wait to get this new site out there, you can find out more about what this change means in our latest blog.
The National Device Bank pilot continues
We’re currently running a pilot for scaling up our National Device Bank. This is our next big thing – working at scale to receive and give out refurbished devices to people in need via our network. The London device bank, created in collaboration with LOTI (London Office of Technology and Innovation), has recently seen some success! 53 Digital Inclusion Hubs in London are distributing devices, across 21 boroughs. This has helped prevent over 1000kg of e-waste. I was so pleased to see some videos of people receiving their devices on Twitter – it’s amazing to see firsthand the impact that these used devices can have on people in need.
AND We’re doing research with the Circular Electronics Partnership and Deloitte to explore the barriers and enablers for businesses and other large organisations to put regular donations of old technology into their usual operating model. I loved interviewing around 20 organisations and hearing about their work and their ideas. This research will be published in April and May. Sneak preview: there is lots of opportunity for creating even more environmental impact alongside huge social impact. When we launch this I’ll definitely be tweeting about it!
This quarter we want to get more devices into the hands of people who really need them. We’re calling on businesses to join the device bank by giving us their old devices for reuse for good. If you’re looking for a way to help tackle climate change whilst also helping vulnerable people, the device bank could be perfect for you. If you have devices that we can reuse – let us know by completing this form.
The National Databank will keep doing amazing things
The National Databank, created in collaboration with Virgin Media O2 and, supported by Vodafone and Three continues to grow. We hope to see more Digital Inclusion Hubs joining us to give out free data this quarter. I love seeing the databank in action, it’s really incredible how much it is helping people. Spring will be another season of giving free data to people in need. If you’re a community organisation and you want to join the databank and help end data poverty in your community, learn more here.
There’s going to be some media about how well the National Databank is doing very soon..
We’ve signed up to be a Living Pension Employer
To look inwards for a moment, Good Things Foundation has signed up to become a Living Pension Employer, supporting employees to build up a pension pot that meets the cost of living. We’re one of the first six organisations to join. We’re already a Living Wage Employer (of course).
This is an excellent step as we want to provide security and stability for our amazing staff not just now, but in the future too. You can find out more about this here.
Keep in touch
There’s so much going on at Good Things Foundation and across all of our partners in the National Digital Inclusion Network I’ve not listed everything we’ve done in 2023 so far and not everything we’re about to do. I’m active on Twitter and try to be active on LinkedIn.
The Good Things team are also keen to share stories, stats, thoughts, and news. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and if you’ve not done so already please sign up for our newsletter.
As spring sneaks into all our lives, it’s by working together that we can fix the digital divide for good.