The Interview Summary

Can you tell me more about Age UK Oxfordshire and your role within it?

  • I work for AGE UK Oxfordshire, a charity for older people, looking to support them in all aspects of their life. I work within the physical activity team with a special focus on falls prevention exercise. My role is to manage the falls prevention programme (in person, group exercise classes held around the country).

Where did you access the Discovery and Development initiatives? What was your experience of the process like?

  • I accessed the Discovery programme through our funding department in October 2020. It was a time when our group exercise classes were no longer able to take place in person. We were having to look to move everything online, offering them via Zoom and did really need some support with the infrastructure and the administration of being able to manage that.

Are there any other Catalyst initiatives that you accessed? 

  • The month of the Discovery programme introduced me to a lot of opportunities (not all Catalyst). I certainly made use of a lot of the webinars that were promoted through Catalyst communications. 
  • I attended a lot of SCVO webinars. I genuinely found them really good. The whole experience and the opportunity were just really, really good, very relevant at the time. 
  • I had one very brilliant experience of a Coffee Connection, connecting with a lady from a charity in South Africa.
  • I accessed Digital Candle to sound out ideas about the best approach for achieving what we wanted to do. We wanted resources to make it as straightforward as possible, just to try and reduce any exclusion.

How does the service look like today from engaging with Catalyst resources?

  • We've been able to move the majority of our offer back to in person, but we still have regular daily online classes. 
  • I would say some of the challenges that we had we still have, but as time has progressed, some of those have reduced naturally as people have become more used to using Zoom and just doing things online in general. 
  • The experience and the understanding of the Discovery and Development process has been really helpful in other project work that we've taken on, and understanding of user needs has been quite informative for other digital development work within our wider organisation as well.

Could you talk more about other projects that it has helped with?

  • One of the key interests that I developed through my experiences with Catalyst was looking at accessibility. So, from having had that opportunity, and the time to research, join webinars, etc., going forward I've always got a keen eye on accessibility. So that I think has been a benefit to several projects rather than perhaps one specific project. 
  • Certainly when we have looked to introduce something new, we've worked through that user needs process, five interviews to gain the insights and that sort of thing. We've tried to apply that process as and when we can, when appropriate.

You mentioned before that there were other organisations or maybe resources outside of Catalyst that helped you as well. Could you tell me more about those?

  • I'm not sure whether SEVO qualify as part of your umbrella, but definitely those stand out. I also joined some Third Sector Lab webinars. So, it's predominantly accessing webinars and some meetups which were also managed by members of the Catalyst support. That was quite helpful to be seeing those outside of the Catalyst work, too. 
  • I think, in general, I was just given the opportunity to find out about events and activities, mostly online. There's a whole range of digital related webinar opportunities.

Can you tell me about the benefits or outcomes of the initiative?

  • I realised how little I knew and went through a process of learning by joining regular webinars with various organisations. Then when we're producing content material for our clients, always applying that kind of eye for accessibility. Although I have a very basic understanding, but more than I had before, to do the best that we can to make sure we’re not making anything unnecessarily inaccessible. So hopefully our class participants here are benefiting from resources that are accessible to everybody. 

Could you tell me more about the challenges that your beneficiaries are still experiencing?

  • Ongoing challenges for some are navigating systems online for booking and registering to book tickets for our classes. Existing third-party systems aren't designed with older people in mind (e.g., colours don't necessarily make it easy to see, navigation isn't super simple). Given the opportunity to have something that was really bespoke, you would make it very straightforward, quite simple, nice, big, clear visuals, etc.
  • Another side, in terms of barriers, is just people finding out and being aware. But that's not a digital barrier, that's a bit more of an awareness of what's available.

Regarding using these services for Catalyst, do you anticipate using them in the future?

  • Yes. Being in a period of change this far has meant not having protected time to make use of the resources available but now it would be beneficial to start to try and get myself back into that space and bring my understanding back up to date again. I'd like to do a refresh of the user research that I was introduced to in 2020. 

Within Catalyst, what do you think were the success factors that helped you achieve what you did and what could be improved?

  • Comprehensive, well written materials covering a range of issues. The Discovery programme was genuinely brilliant. It was four weeks full on, so maybe having more time to digest the learning. In Coffee connections I was lucky to have a connection that lasted but perhaps the opportunity to be more specific about what you are looking for from the connections to find a suitable match. 

What’s next for digital service at Age UK Oxfordshire and how can Catalyst support?

We currently have a system that works for our service as it is, but we're going to be changing. I will be going back to my Discovery work to make sure that we do sufficient user research to inform those next iterations as best we can, then revisiting those processes and applying those again, internally with our IT department. 

In terms of Catalyst support, possibly, it would be some support in identifying elements within the opportunities that might help me to do a much smaller Discovery and Development process or support those within the wider organisation.