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The Interview Summary

Could you tell me a bit more about mySociety and your role within it?

  • mySociety is a civic technology charity, and its mission is repowering democracy. The primary ways in which we try to do that is through digital services and data. Everything we do is generally open, accessible, reusable. Our primary focus is on the UK, but some services are used outside of the UK.
  • We're well known for our big services, like the Freedom of Information platform, 'What Do They Know', 'They work for you' and 'Write to them', which are helping people to engage with representative democracy, and 'Fix my Street' is a local reporting service. 
  • I'm the Outreach and Networks Coordinator for mySociety's climate programme, which is coming up to its second official birthday.

You accessed Digital Candle. When and how did you access this service?

  • I started thinking about the tools mySociety uses for managing contact data in early 2022, and I wanted to explore other tools available for stakeholder management. 
  • The Digital Candle conversation was helpful in taking a step-by-step approach to this. What was really helpful was being able to talk with somebody who's got a lot of experience and expertise of advising on the basis of a particular set of circumstances, and to get some advice that was tailored to our particular situation.

What resulted from that? What kind of conclusion did you reach? What does the tool look like today?

  • We haven't changed very much about our setup. But that doesn't mean that the Digital Candle wasn't really useful because I was spending quite a lot of time and energy trying to understand whether we needed to do something differently, or whether we were okay to carry on as we were. The Digital Candle was just priceless, because it gave me the confidence to keep going the way that we were. 
  • The climate program is currently funded for three years, with a year left as are we, if we receive more funding, there may be an opportunity to revisit our relationship management tools and assess their effectiveness, and being able to kind of pick up this advice at that point will be really helpful.

How did you come across the initiative?

  • I’m often like a bit of a magpie when it comes to this sort of stuff. I'll stumble across things through Twitter or LinkedIn, they could be a couple of avenues where I might have encountered Catalyst. I signed up for the Catalyst newsletter, and I can't really think of any newsletter that I've received from Catalyst that hasn't had something of interest in there. 
  • I might have also encountered this through the e-campaigning forum newsletter. Some of the organisations that are involved with Catalyst are on that list and share the services and support there.

Did you access any other Catalyst services?

  • I don't I don't think I've really made use of any of them in the way that I have with the Digital Candle. I think I've clicked into stuff like the reuse work section and had a skim of it. But it's felt a little bit overwhelming because it's quite a long list.
  • I've had a little look at some stuff like the Service Recipes. But nothing jumped out at me. Or maybe I just felt like there was too much there for me to really get to grips with and I didn't have an immediate problem.

Would you be able to say whether you'll continue using Digital Candle in the future?

  • Yeah, without a doubt, and I've recommended it to other people as well. 
  • The whole thing was great, not just the conversation itself but the process of arranging it was already smooth and fast.

Do you think that there's anything that could be improved? 

  • There may be an opportunity to better connect Catalyst's support services.
  • You could have an account where you're able to organise some of the resources that you particularly like or use frequently. 
  • One thing I found a bit confusing is engaging with the different kind of networks, and I think some of them point to a Slack. I can see that there's logic to having these thematic communities of practice. I wonder whether there's some cross pollination between those or having a place where people from those different communities can interact?

What is next for the climate team of mySociety? 

  • We're working with The Climate Coalition on a data hub for the climate movement for grassroots activists. We're still working with Climate Emergency UK who we partnered with quite early in the programme's life. We're working on a council climate scorecards website, which will assess the climate action of local authorities in the UK.
  • The work that I'm probably most closely involved in at the moment is a partnership with Dark Matter Labs, looking at home energy and how digital services could hopefully catalyse collective action on home energy.
  • There's other work we might pick up and develop further. 

Is there any other support that Catalyst could provide?

  • I'm aware that that Catalyst is evolving. I think it would be great to keep an eye on how that's happening and any opportunities that there might be to support, either for us to be supported or to mutually support each other or collaborate. 
  • There could be some interesting links with other members of the of the network, where we think there might be a role for a digital service in helping people to navigate home energy pathways. 
  • We don't necessarily blow our own trumpet a huge amount. Having people know about and use our services is something we always appreciate help with. So if we're not taking advantage of the ways in which we could be signposted, that would be something to understand better.

Is there anything else that you would like to add about Catalyst?

  • I think it's just really fantastic that Catalyst exists. I've just had great experiences with everybody that I've met through Catalyst. I think they do fantastic work.