A red strawberry with a black sprout on top

The Interview Summary

Could you tell us a bit more about Warrington Voluntary Action and your role within it?

  • Warrington Voluntary Action supports the third sector, throughout the whole of Warrington, from small organisations through to large organisations. My role works on digital capacity building with all the different groups in Warrington, so that ranges from small groups through to large organisations, again, it's funded by the National Lottery Local Fund. It ends in April 2024.

You mentioned that you accessed a range of Catalyst initiatives. Could we start by asking about the Design Hops course that you attended?

  • I wasn’t able to finish it due to the trainer becoming ill.
  • It was really good. The problem for my Design Hop was to find out some knowledge around putting a digital strategy into place for groups to go through the journey of change, and then decide on implementing a digital strategy in their own service. So that it was quite a huge task compared to the other participants that were on the course. But it was really good to get other people's feedback and bounce ideas off people in the same situation.
  • It gave me structure and steps that I needed to look at and go through, you know, when I'm doing user surveys, and putting it out there to the groups to get feedback, because I've never really looked at it in a structured way.
  • I've used the Catalyst website for looking at digital strategies and what is needed to put a digital strategy in place, but it's getting the groups to buy in and getting them to see the need for it. So that's why I went on the Design Hop course to see if that would help – it gave me a canvas to work with. 
  • I'm not sure how I came across it to be honest, but it is go to for me. I have it on my favourites on the bar and I literally have support services and resources at the top all the time, because I literally use it on a daily basis. It's really good for me to access the resources if a group asks for something specific, say they wanted some help with choosing a CRM database system, for instance, I can go on to the Catalyst website, look at the resources and see what's available, and then send them a link for it. There's lots of useful things on there.

Did you experience any benefits/outcomes from taking part in the initiatives for you, your organisation, or the people/communities that you work with?

  • I’ve not quite got that far but have the tools to move forward.
  • It’s a massive step for a lot of the charities in Warrington to even consider putting a digital strategy in place, they've got a long way to go before they get to that stage. I mean, there are a few bigger organisations that are now considering it. But it'll take a lot.

Could you describe the challenges they're facing in terms of getting there with their digital strategy?

  • The main challenge is not seeing digital as a priority. They are struggling with funds, want to talk about funding, extra funding, being able to write bids properly etc. With the energy crisis and all the rest of it, running services in general is really difficult and unfortunately digital, in Warrington, just doesn't seem like it's number one priority. 
  • They do engage a lot with social media so I'm currently doing a lot of training around using Canva and things like that for design. It's just a really easy to use software so I'm rolling that out at the moment.

How did you hear about Canva? Are there any other tools or websites or organisations that are helping you?

  • I found the digital skills report that was on the Catalyst website, that helped a lot around what the need is (e.g., the percentages of what the groups need to move forward with digital), but I use a lot of different tools and websites. 
  • We have updated our website as well to include a digital page now, which is really useful for the groups. We've got Catalyst on there, services like Digital Candle, the Service Recipes for people to link into, different free designs and images that people can use. 

 Did you use Service Recipes at all, or Digital Candle yourself?

  • Service Recipes, I've had a look through them. 
  • We use the shopping app, because we've got lots of different services with Warrington Voluntary Action, we now not only support the third sector, but we also support the community as well. We have a good neighbours project, which uses the V app for shopping for the volunteers to use to go out and get the shopping to the beneficiaries. Also, I saw that somebody had used Google Maps, we've also used that as well, and integrated on our website to show the Food Network provision. So, we have a Food Network coordinator and are going to roll that out for all the other services that we have with WVA. 
  • We've now got a dementia worker. So, we're hopefully going to have other interactive Google Maps on our site as well so everyone can see where the Dementia Cafes are, and all the different groups, the services that are out there - that'll be exciting.

Do you anticipate that you're going to be using any of Catalyst's services in the future?

  • Yes, all the time. Everything relates to what we’re doing. Most useful so far are the articles in the resource section (the detail that goes into the different articles and the step-by-step process on how to implement it), Website accessibility, GDPR, digital strategies and implementing the digital strategy itself, Data collection. They are questions that I get asked often from the groups. 
  • For example, I just recently worked with a group called Visually Impaired Persons in Warrington. And they needed some support with choosing a CRM system. It was useful to go onto the Catalyst website and check out their resources and you know, find their detailed steps on what to look for with a CRM system and then send that link over to them. 

Looking at the overall picture of all of the services available on Catalyst, is there anything that you think could be improved?

  • Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to navigate and Service Recipes can go on forever. The videos don’t always work. There could be more things around open source, to make life easier. 

What’s next for you and - is there any other support that would be helpful from Catalyst?

  • Future funding to continue with digital would be great. Digital is moving very fast and even the older generation are getting left behind. And I just feel like more funds need to be put into digital in general. It would be good for Catalyst to get in touch or for me to get in touch with them, I'm not sure if that's possible. My experience in general has just been an overall positive experience with Catalyst