Last year, we launched the Catalyst and The National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response. This initiative aimed to help charities improve their digital capabilities. Here, we take a look at an overview of what charities achieved on the Development programme.

As part of the response, ten civil society organisations joined the Development programme. This programme supported charities to prototype and build their digital projects. The majority of applicants had completed discovery through Explore or a Design Hop

Each charity received a grant of up to £25,000. Part of the funding was used to contract a digital partner through Open Projects. The cohort ran over ten weeks between November 2020 and January 2021. Here’s an overview of what each organisation achieved during this programme: 


The Federation of Groundwork Trusts

The Federation of Groundwork Trusts is a network of Groundwork charities.

They use community action to fight poverty and improve the environment across the UK.

Challenge: The aim of the project was to help members of the network feel more confident when using online tools. 

Solution

  • Working with Erica Neve and The Skills Lab, they developed a 'digital champions' model to provide training and support
  • They created new learning resources and accessible digital tools for their members
  • Many of these tools, like Miro and Jamboard, were free to use - contributing to the learning that “digital doesn’t have to be expensive and fancy”!


Caring Together Charity

Caring Together supports carers across Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Norfolk. The charity also offers homecare services to people with disabilities and health conditions.

Challenge: As a result of COVID-19, the charity saw a rapid increase in demand for their services. At the same time, they faced a shortage of carers. 

Solution

  • Working with Effini, they redesigned data processes so that they could understand how resources were being used. 
  • The work included developing a data audit and dashboards.
  • They developed a roadmap to help them use data and resources better.
  • This meant they could meet increased demand and help more people.  

The Scout Association

The Scout Association is the largest scouting organisation in the United Kingdom. They aim to provide skills for life to young people through adventure, fun and creativity. 

Challenge: COVID-19 stopped the Scouts’ face-to-face support for 500,000 young people. Volunteers worked hard to continue to support communities online. But a lack of digital skills became a barrier to delivering new online activities. 

Solution

  • Working with Yalla Cooperative, they developed a web app to help their volunteers assess their digital skills 
  • The app then signposts volunteers to learning resources to help improve their skills
  • Scouts have secured further funding to carry on developing the web application
  • Their ambition is for the app to be reusable by other charities.


Warrington Youth Club

Warrington Youth Club exists to support young people’s development. They offer young people opportunities to develop skills, knowledge and confidence.

Challenge: Warrington Youth Club had to move the majority of their activities online as a result of COVID-19. Their challenge was to make sure they could do this in an inclusive way. They wanted to create more opportunities for young people to connect.

Solution

  • Working with local digital agency Carpe Diem, they supported their community to create content for an online youth club
  • The collaborative online space is co-produced by local organisations and young people
  • Safeguarding and digital inclusion is a key element of the platform
  • Their platform will be ready to launch in Spring 2021.


UpRising

Uprising addresses underrepresentation in positions of leadership in communities and work. Through their leadership programmes, they support young people to lead positive change.

Challenge: UpRising moved their employability programme online in July. But they realised that replacing face-to-face experiences with Zoom calls was challenging. For example, young people weren’t as engaged as before. 

Solution

  • Working with Erica Neve and The Skills Lab, they adapted their programme for online delivery
  • They learned how to make online content more impactful and engaging
  • They automated time-consuming administrative tasks, making it easier to manage projects.


Living Well UK

Living Well are a group of mental health service providers based in the West Midlands. They receive over 2,500 referrals for support each month. 

Challenge: COVID-19 made it hard to provide face-to-face mental health therapy. Some service users said they would be happy to receive therapy online. But Living Well needed support to move their support services online. 

Solution:

  • Working with The Developer Society (DEV), they mapped the journey of service users
  • They created a flow on their website where users could book slots with therapists
  • This helped Living Well improve their user experience
  • They also discovered more about how data and processes work.


The Proud Trust

The Proud Trust is a Manchester based youth organisation for LGBT+ young people. 

Challenge: Lockdown has increased challenges for LGBT+ young people. The Proud Trust wanted to find out how they provide online mental health support.

Solution:

  • Working with SubZero Studio, they developed a digital resource hub and instant messaging platform.
  • They also created a platform for Mentors supporting young people
  • The hub integrates with Salesforce CRM, allowing direct referrals
  • This ensures that the The Proud Trust team are notified of any safeguarding concerns
  • The team will pilot the platform in the North West from April, before moving on to a nationwide roll-out. 


Skills Builder Partnership

Skills Builder work with teachers and employers to deliver education for young people. They do this by providing training support, assessment tools and teaching resources.

Challenge: As a result of COVID-19, they have had to adapt how they work. This means they now focus on working with individual learners.

Solution

  • Working with Reason Digital, they developed 'The Skills Builder Universal Framework’
  • The framework was built for mobile first to improve the user experience
  • Through this project they developed digital resources  for individual learners
  • This has enabled their learners to work independently to improve their essential skills


YMCA England & Wales

YMCA is the oldest and largest youth charity in the world. 

Challenge: YMCA’s provide mental health support for young people. COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the support they offer. They needed to create a digital service so they could adapt their work for online delivery.

Solution

  • Working with SIDE Labs, they explored the best ways of developing support online
  • The result is a new web application ‘Changing Minds’
  • Changing Minds hosts helpful videos to support young people with their wellbeing
  • The videos are made by young people, for young people 
  • A key element of this project was to connect with existing platforms used by their service users. This allowed them to scale their support fast.


Equal Care Co-op

Equal Care Coop is the UK’s first digital social care and support co-operative. They work across the Calder Valley. 

Challenge: To ‘join the dots’ between professional care and informal care relationships in the community. Their project aims to improve communication for people who are providing care.

Solution:

  • Equal Care Co-op worked with Reason Digital and Outlandish to speed up the development and delivery of their online product 
  • They designed wireframes and a chat system using Rocket.Chat to improve the volunteer journey. Supported by Outlandish.
  • They also built a Quality Assurance (QA) pipeline, supported by Reason Digital.

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