Having worked closely with the Online Centres Network over a variety of different projects for nearly 3 years, I'm constantly reminded and deeply amazed at some of the great work that has taken place over that time by staff and volunteers at community centres, libraries and third sector organisations.
From my experience it's always the people that truly make an organisation. It's not an easy time for anyone and yet we've seen more and more Online Centres being creative to make sure that their local communities continue to be supported as best as possible.
Empowering people to develop new ideas and approaching challenges and problems in a different way is a big part of what the Community Challenge Prize is all about.
The Community Challenge Prize is something that we are excited to have developed in partnership with Joseph Rowntree Foundation, as we believe that these ideas should be nurtured. We're all so busy that sometimes ideas come and go without the time to develop them further. It's frustrating but I can fully appreciate that for most Online Centres the community and people's needs come first - finding the time to investigate an idea can be challenging in itself.
That's why as part of the Community Challenge Prize, we're running one-day workshops for Online Centres staff, tutors or volunteers to learn some simple techniques and processes that our Design & Innovation team use on a regular basis, that can be applied to a whole manner of challenges or problems across an organisation. These techniques will help you focus on an idea to quickly turn something that seemed like a mammoth task into a short focused burst of activity.
If your idea is accepted you will be invited to a days workshop, in either London, Leeds or Birmingham. All costs for the people that attend the workshops will be covered as we believe that taking a day out to develop a member of staff, or volunteer is vital and will enable you to take back to your centre what you have learned in applying service design to solve other challenges in your day to day role.
Online Centres in general come across a whole raft of challenges as they try to serve their own unique local community - that's why it is important to enable people to apply a simple application to their own challenges.
I heard some great ideas when we were out and about doing research for the Challenge Prize, simple and yet very effective for the community. For example whilst visiting Edlington Hilltop, I heard how they have an allotment and how developing land further at the community centre would help them support the local older generation by providing low-cost, healthy vegetables. With the price of food rising, this very simple yet effective idea could help the community save money and improve wellbeing.
So if you haven't already, make sure you have a look at the Community Challenge Prize. You'll need to put in an expression of interest before the 28th January but your idea doesn't have to be fully developed as there will be time at the workshops and afterwards to refine the idea before you submit your final application to win the £2,000 prize.
Our network is so special because it puts the needs of people first, but we all need to take some time out every now and then to develop the ideas that could improve lives in our communities.
Find out more about the Community Challenge prize here, we are also running a webinar on Tuesday 16 January 12 - 12:30pm, if you have any further questions please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org