Annual Conference 2017: a recap of the day

11 Dec 2017

Written by Jonathan Bradwell

Our Network Specialist (Comms) Jonathan reflects on his first time at the annual conference, highlighting some key messages for Online Centres to take away.

Before joining Good Things Foundation I’d heard some pretty amazing things about the annual conference, both on social media and from those I knew who were working at the charity. I was very excited when I was asked to attend the event last week to experience it first hand, and it really didn’t disappoint.

Whilst looking after reception in the morning it was great to see so many delegates representing the Online Centres Network. Centre managers like Ivi of North Somerset Training had even taken the time out of their week to travel down the night before. Others had travelled as far as Swansea, Newcastle and further afield. It was an unmissable opportunity to put faces to names of the hard-working individuals I’d been speaking with over the past six months.

With name badges handed out and morning coffee poured, it was time to take a seat in the fabulous BT Centre auditorium. The event’s host and first speaker was television personality Maggie Philbin, the current CEO of Teentech, who was followed by the inspirational Good Things Foundation CEO Helen Milner OBE. Helen set the scene for the day in saying that ‘we don’t just help provide digital skills. We help provide confidence, resilience and hope’.

Although I’d love to divulge the details of every single speaker and session (and I’m more than willing to in a phone call), I’ve picked out a few highlights that I think members of the Online Centres Network can really relate to.

Being a member of the Network Team means I have the privilege of talking to centres every day, so I know it’s easy to lose sight of the ‘end goal’ – the people we’re supporting. If you’re feeling in need of inspiration after a busy year, look no further than the presentation by Molly Watt, a 22 year-old tech evangelist with Usher’s syndrome. Molly spoke passionately about technologies positive effect on her life, highlighting that ‘there are few as passionate about exclusion as those who have been excluded’.

Before lunch it was our Design & Innovation team’s time to showcase their bite-size approach to service design and creative problem solving. The sessions, called Design Studios, had delegates working to tackle a large problem using a simplified, replicable process. If you missed the workshops but want to find out more, please get in touch.

In the afternoon the discussion about how digital can be a driver for social change continued as Campbell Robb, CEO of Joseph Rowntree Foundation, took to the stage to launch the Community Challenge Prize. For anyone that’s not familiar with a challenge prize, it’s where an organisation sets a question and the best answers win a prize. In this instance, the question is:

‘If you had £2,000 how would you help people save money?’

We’re looking to take sixty ideas from the Online Centres Network into a development stage, where all of the answers will be formed into an actionable project, which can then be taken to potential funders. Then we’ll be awarding the ten best ideas a £2,000 cash prize, which we hope will be able to turn your idea into a reality.

This year the annual conference ended with a very well attended post-event reception. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to hear success stories from around the network, and celebrate them with you over a drink. I’m hoping all the Online Centres that attended got as much out of the day as I did, and I hope you’ll join me in thanking all of the day’s speakers for sharing their experience and knowledge with the entire network.

You can watch it again or catch-up on all the day’s action on our YouTube channel