Today, Brits are being challenged to leave failed New Year’s resolutions behind, and start something new online instead.
It’s estimated that up to 80% of us will have already failed in our resolutions, just a month since making them. The Start something campaign from UK online centres offers a second chance to make a change - and start something that will actually last.
Whether it’s getting a new job, getting connected or getting healthy, the idea is that starting something online could give people the skills and support they need to do something that really matters to them. Hundreds of Start something sessions are taking place across the country in community centres, jobcentres, libraries and shopping centres. Visitors will be encouraged to see what they could start online - from job hunting to bargain hunting, Skype-ing to socialising, family trees to finding recipes.
Helen Milner is Chief Executive at Online Centres Foundation, the organisation behind the national UK online centres network. She explains: “New Year’s resolutions are so last month! February is all about starting something new online, and the key is to make it something you really want to do. Computers and the internet aren’t an end in themselves - they’re a means to an end. They could help make chores more simple, hobbies more fun, conversations and connections quicker, and opportunities easier to take advantage of.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner with computers, or a bit of a www.dabbler, anyone can start something new online. What’s more - with a bit of help - it’s easy to do, easy to stick to, and could be the start of something pretty special!”
The campaign runs from 4 February to 15 March, and aims to inspire thousands of people to start something online. There’s no doubt that doing so has already helped millions of regular UK online centres visitors achieve their goals.
Norah, 78, from Conisbrough, lost more than four stone in weight thanks to the support of an online weight-loss group and her local UK online centre Doncaster West Development Trust. She explains: "I lost about four stone, in less than six months, which was a lot for me. And there's no way that I could have done it without the website. I really don't believe I would have lost all this weight without the emails and help I was able get online. The more I learn about the internet and use it, the more it changes my life.”
Meanwhile Clive, 56, from Cornwall, is another supporter of the Start something campaign, having found a new job with a little help from UK online centre Cornwall Advice Service. He says: “My computer skills were very limited when I first visited the centre, so when it came to using something like a job-search website, I had no chance. But I got the right kind of help when I needed it most. After being unemployed for almost a year, I was just so happy to be back in work. If it wasn’t for someone taking the time and trouble to sit with me and help me gain the skills I needed, I’m sure I’d still be unemployed today.”
Those wanting to follow in Norah and Clive’s footsteps and start something online this February can find their nearest UK online centre at www.ukonlinecentres.com, or call free on 0800 77 1234.
To find out more about the Start something campaign, visit www.ukonlinecentres.com/startsomething or follow #startsomethingonline on Twitter.
For more information about this press release, please contact Anna Geraghty email@example.com 07872 992748.
Notes to editors:
- Start something is run by Online Centres Foundation - a staff owned mutual with a mission to support digitally and socially excluded people at scale, by translating national strategies into social action at the most local level. This achieved via a network of 3,800 hyper-local UK online centres, based in some of the most deprived communities in the country. www.ukonlinecentres.com
Delegates at the first Digital evolution, local action conference left yesterday’s event inspired with new ideas about how to put technology to use in their day-to-day work.
Even Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, talked about his own ‘bingo moment’ of inspiration, finding out about the new ‘Community How To’ service which launched at the conference. It’s set to help non-profit organisations find and share digital tools that can help them do more of what they do best.
He said: “It's excellent news that the voluntary and community sector are meeting challenges by embracing digital technology - and that they want to do more in this space. That's why I want to encourage organisations to use the Online Centres Foundation’s Community How To service, which will offer them new exciting ways to inspire, involve and connect people so together they can build even stronger communities.”
The Conference took place at the BT centre in London, and brought together grassroots community organisers with technologists and policy makers.
While Nick Hurd stressed the importance of community organisations as the only truly trusted public intermediaries, other speakers offered advice and inspiration. Founder of Localgiving.com and Holidayrentals.com, Marcelle Speller, talked about how to meet the challenges of fundraising, and Dan Thompson, creator of #WeWillGather, shared his experiences of recruiting volunteers and building social action on the internet. An international angle was given by Ken Banks of Kiwanja.net, who reminded delegates to keep in mind the social problems they were trying to solve, and then to think creatively about the shape and scale of their solutions.
As well as the plenary sessions, delegates also got to attend interactive workshops, and talk to other community organisations about how they use digital tools, how they’ve overcome resource and skills issues, and how they continue to maintain, manage, and moderate their online presence.
One conference delegate was Kim Wood, from Blackpool Community and Voluntary Service . He said: “We heard from some really brilliant speakers and I’ve got some great ideas to take away – for instance top tips from Dan Thompson about different ways to use Twitter that just hadn’t occurred to me. It was also great to meet and spend time with other community organisations, and to feel like we’re all part of a bigger picture. Everyone attending was willing to try every trick in the book – and on the internet – to do more for the people we work with.”
Conference Chair Lord Jim Knight, former Schools and Employment Minister, is now keen to see how delegates like Kim are going to take their experiences from the conference and put them to use back home. He said: “It’s been a fantastic day, and I’ve learned a lot not just from the speakers but from the delegates I’ve been chatting with. We’ve seen how digital tools can make community work quicker, easier and more effective. We’ve had a day of talk – now it’s time for the action. I’m looking forward to hearing from delegates on #dela2012 and on the Community How To discussion forums about how the tips and tools they’ve taken away are enhancing their impact on the communities they serve.”
The Digital evolution, local action conference was organised by Online Centres Foundation, the organisation behind the national network of UK online centres. Speaker presentations, videos and a full conference report will be available shortly at www.ukonlinecentres.com/dela2012. See the Community How To service, now live at www.communityhowto.com.
Community organisations will get expert advice on going digital, and are being challenged to use technology to do more of what they do best, all at a new conference taking place this winter.
The Digital evolution, local action conference takes place on 27 November at the BT Centre in London. It aims to give grassroots delegates a view of the high-level policy areas affecting them, uncover the barriers they face when engaging with new online tools, and send them away with new ideas to put to use back home.
The conference will be chaired by former Labour Schools Minister and Employment Minister, Lord Jim Knight, who is also the chair of Online Centres Foundation, the organisation behind the conference. He says: “Technology can change lives and bring communities together, but often local and community organisations struggle to harness its power. At the Digital evolution, local action conference we want to inspire social change in local communities by breaking down barriers, sharing best practice, and providing practical support to help organisations do more - more easily - with digital tools.”
Delegates will get to take part in interactive workshops and hear from the experts about how technology can be used to deliver projects, improve services, build communities and organise local action. Speakers will include Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd MP , Marcelle Speller founder of Localgiving.com, Dan Thompson - the creator of #riotcleanup and #WeWillGather, and Ken Banks, founder of kiwanja.net, which helps non-profit organisations around the world make better use of technology.
At the end of the day, Lord Knight will collect pledges to find out what people intend to try out or do differently in their communities as a result of the conference.
The Digital evolution, social action conference is delivered by Online Centres Foundation - which runs the national network of UK online centres. Chief Executive Helen Milner added: “We’re really excited about the conference and the opportunity to give local social innovators new tools to do their day-to-day work - and hopefully more confidence in their personal ability to make a difference. These are the people who are in the driving seat for social justice in Britain. If you’re one of them, and feel you could make more of technology to make more of an impact, it would be great to have you join this conversation.”
Tickets are on sale now at only £135 + VAT, and £95 + VAT for members of the UK online centres network. To find out more visit the Conference webpages at http://bit.ly/UkSHl7 or follow #dela2012.
For more information about this press release, please contact Abi Stevens firstname.lastname@example.org or Anna Geraghty email@example.com 07872 992748.
Notes to editors
The Digital evolution, local action conference is run by Online Centres Foundation, a staff owned mutual with a mission to support digitally and socially excluded people at scale, by translating national strategies into social action at the most local level. This achieved via a network of 3,800 hyper-local UK online centres, based in some of the most deprived communities in the country. www.ukonlinecentres.com
What began as one victim of multiple strokes plucking up the courage to try a computer course at a UK online centre has become a group of survivors who understand the challenges each face on a daily basis and the group, which provides invaluable support that to its members, is now the winner of the 'Community Impact' prize at the Technology4Good Awards.
The Stroke Survivors Group meet once a week at the Paignton Library in Torbay, Devon. Their main focus is using the courses on UK online centres' Learn website to progress their computer skills at their own pace but it certainly doesn't stop there! With the help of the Stroke Association they've launched their own website and have become trailblazers for stroke victims helping other survivors on the road to recovery.
Project Manager Susan Herlihy says, "Initially a new group member might concentrate on learning how to use a mouse and keyboard, finding equipment to suit their needs. Using technology is the group's common goal, but this very quickly leads to much, much more. They soon find out that technology gives them the opportunity to reach out to others in similar situations, giving them the hope and confidence they need to face the future."
In just three months, the group has grown from Colin, the stroke survivor who first went along the library to use Online basics, to over a dozen members. Colin is now a Digital Champion and earlier this year he won an award from The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education for all his hard work developing the group. He says, "The group has opened up a whole new world and adventure for me, bringing hope and new horizons to all stroke survivors and carers"
There are now plans to make sure that the group can become a sustainable project. With the demand for the support the group provides so high, it's hoped that some of the original members will volunteer to run a second group, showing others how computers and the internet can make a huge difference to the way they live their lives.
For one member, the group has made a huge difference, not only to his skills but also his self esteem. He says "I can't write, I can't read or remember much, I can only talk with a stutter so I can't tell a joke and I feel like a complete fool.
"But coming to these lessons has shown me I have knowledge that I can share, people do care about me and although I still feel like a fool, it's a lot less of a fool!"
Organisations could do more for their communities by making better use of free technology, Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd said today as he visited UK online centre in South Yorkshire. He was there to mark the development of a new website to help community workers to use more free digital tools to make their lives easier.
The visit was hosted by the Lifewise Centre in Rotherham, a multi-agency purpose-built facility that provides education, prevention, intervention and rehabilitation to communities across South Yorkshire. It was attended by a number of Community Leaders from across England, all keen to share their views on the power of technology to help communities achieve more.
The event was organised to announce the development of a new website by Online Centres Foundation, “the Big Community Hub”, that will revolutionise the way community organisations work through the use of digital tools.
The Lifewise Centre is one organisation that is certainly using technology to improve the lives of residents. As part of their Community Hub programme, led by Online Centres Foundation, the organisation is using technology to communicate more broadly about tackling gun and knife crime, as well as supporting literacy and reading issues in school using Kindles and tablet- based technology.
Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd said: “Visiting the Lifewise Centre, and having the opportunity to talk to such an inspiring group of community leaders reiterated just how valuable technology can be to the voluntary and community sector, not only in changing the lives of people living in communities, but also by allowing organisations who are often both time and cash-poor to do more for less using online tools. I’m looking forward to seeing the Big Community Hub website develop further, and believe it will be a vital tool for the sector as a whole.”
Helen Milner, Chief Executive of Online Centres Foundation says: “I’m passionate about the benefits technology can bring, to communities, individuals and organisations. Bringing this group of committed and inspirational community leaders together to share their views on what technology can do for them and their communities was really useful, and it was great that Nick Hurd could see first hand just how much great work is going on in communities putting technology at their heart.
Annika Small is the CEO of Nominet Trust who have funded the development of the Big Community Hub. She says “At Nominet Trust, we’re great believers in the power that the internet can have in revolutionising the ways in which people work, interact and achieve in their communities, which is why we’re funding the development of the Big Community Hub. I think the website will act as a much needed resource, enabling community organisations to work smarter, and essentially do more, in their areas.”
The Big Community Hub website will be launched later this year, and will be piloted in Beta version in advance of its full launch.
Jobseekers who are offline are much less likely to find work, according to a new survey by UK online centres and research agency ICM which reveals that 72% of employers are unlikely to even offer an interview to someone without basic computer and internet skills.
The research also details the top IT skills employers are looking for in new recruits; being able to email (96%), word processing skills (93%), and the ability to search for information online (88%).
And it's not just getting through the door to interview where offline jobseekers are missing out. The report reveals that recruiters prefer advertising jobs online because it is accessible to more people (58%), cheaper and more effective (56%) and easier (49%). 25% of job opportunities are now posted solely online.
Martha Lane Fox, UK Digital Champion, founder Race Online 2012 campaign said: "With unemployment at a high, we must acknowledge that digital skills are vital if you are to secure employment in this competitive market. Today, we know that once in a job, internet savvy workers can earn an average increase in lifetime earnings of over £12,000. And, if 3.5% of offline unemployed could find work by using job websites it would deliver an estimated £560 million to the UK economy. It seems nonsensical that in 2012 there are still people missing out on the benefits and opportunities the web can offer."
There are currently 8.4 million people in the UK who can't use computers and the internet, and with unemployment reaching a new high at 2.68 million, those without computer and internet skills are being put at a real disadvantage in their quest to find work.
One person who has seen first hand just how hard it is to get back into work if you're offline is Remington Mills, 54, from Middlesbrough who was recently laid off. He says: "Losing my job was a real blow. It was a point of pride that I was a worker and had earned my own money, so I wanted to get back into work straight away. I'd never used computers before - I'd never needed to at work - and I didn't realise just how much I would need them for my job hunt."
"I visited my local UK online centre - the Hope Foundation in Middlesbrough - where the staff helped me apply for a temporary job at the Post Office over Christmas, and I was dead chuffed when I got it! It was only temporary but a big step to be working again. I'm now looking for another job but I can go to the Hope Foundation every day to improve my skills. I wish I'd done it years before!"
This research report has been commissioned by UK online centres, a national social enterprise that helps people to get started with computers and the internet, to support the "New Year, new online you!" campaign they are currently running in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus. The campaign aims to encourage offline people to make 2012 the year they get started with computers and the internet in order to change their lives, and take advantage of all of the great services that are available to them.
Helen Milner is Chief Executive of UK online centres. She says: "We always knew that being offline if you're unemployed puts you at a real disadvantage, and this report just goes to prove that. And it's not just getting into work that can be affected - if you can use computers and the internet, you'll also earn between 3% and 10% more over your lifetime. That's why this campaign is so important, and I really hope that people are inspired by the benefits that being online can bring, and decide to find somewhere near them where they can find a little help - whether they've never touched a computer before or just need some help brushing up on their skills."
Events are taking place at UK online centres across the country between 23 January and 17 February so people can get started with computers and the internet. You can find a local event by calling 0800 77 1234, or by visiting www.ukonlinecentres.com.
The relationship between technology and happiness is linked again today in new research.
A survey with new internet users, conducted by UK online centres, found 87% of people thought their lives had changed for the better since they started using the internet, and nearly a quarter said the internet had been literally ‘life changing’.
It comes as no surprise to UK online centres, an organisation which specialises in helping people get online for the first time. It’s the second week of their Go ON get more out of life online campaign, and the research shows people are already doing just that.
Managing Director, Helen Milner, said: “At UK online centres, we see computers and the internet making a very real difference to people’s lives every day. Technology can alleviate isolation, extend independence, and quite literally open up whole new worlds of opportunity and interest. The Go ON campaign targets Britain’s 9.2 million offliners, and aims to inspire them to find out how they too could get more out of life online. As this survey shows, the benefits can range from something very small like saving a bit of time on everyday chores, to something immeasurably important, like keeping in touch with far flung family and friends.”
Indeed, many respondents in the survey could identify very specific ways in which the internet had improved their lives. Over 90% said the internet had helped them learn new things, and find information more quickly and easily. 85% said the internet had helped them keep in touch with family and friends, with 72% saying they felt closer to people as a result. Nearly three quarters of those surveyed said the internet had saved them time, with 68% reporting that it had also saved them money.
As well as the very tangible benefits of being online, there were also less direct results which were helping people improve their lives. For instance, some 65% said the internet had helped them find new interests or follow old hobbies. A staggering 63% said they felt using computers and the internet had actually helped their general confidence.
Perhaps more significantly, 38% said the internet had helped them improve their confidence at work, with 27% - more than a quarter – saying it had actually helped them find work. With 90% of jobs now requiring computer skills and more than seven million jobs advertised online last year, it’s perhaps unsurprising that technology should enhance people’s workplace confidence.
Job satisfaction and security play a large part in our overall well-being, and UK online centres have teamed up with Jobcentre Plus for the Go ON get more out of life online campaign to help jobseekers get to grips with computers and the internet. The campaign is also backed by Race Online 2012 and the BBC, whose First Click campaign is running alongside Go ON over the next few weeks.
Go ON get more out of life online is already seeing around 2,000 people a day take up the challenge to see what the internet could do for them, and the campaign is set to get more than 80,000 people online by the middle of February.
For more information on this press release please contact Abi Stevens on 0778 666 0689 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
1. There are 9.2 million Brits still not using computers and the internet, and potentially missing out on the benefits and opportunities it can bring. Taking place between 17 January and 14 February, Go ON get more out of life online activities will run at around 1,500 venues across England – from UK online centres to Jobcentre Plus offices, libraries and community centres. Visitors will get the chance to find out how the internet could help them in everyday life – from getting on at work to keeping in touch with family and friends, exploring interests to saving time and money. The Go ON campaign is supported by Race Online 2012 partners including the BBC and Jobcentre Plus. For more information visit www.ukonlinecentres.com/goongetmore
2. UK online centres provide millions of people with access to technology and support in using it, at 3,500 local centres. They offer free or low cost access to the internet and email, deliver online courses and encourage people to progress onto further learning. Visit www.ukonlinecentres.com for more information.