Bridging the digital skills divide weeknote 22/09/20

30s read

  • Reserve your spot at our Dragon’s Den event with LOTI at DigiLeaders, and grab some inspiration from others on how to close the digital divide
  • Check out our Digital buddies website for buddies, beneficiaries and schools keen to learn more about the programme
  • Digital skills is popping up all over the borough following our publicity drive, and it’s paying off not only with residents but with referrals coming from the health sector
  • We’re looking towards how we can render this programme of work sustainable in the longer term

3min read

LOTI Dragon’s Den at DigiLeaders

Our Dragons’ Den event with LOTI at DigiLeaders is scheduled for 12-2pm on 14 October – get the date in your diaries and reserve your spot! The aim is for boroughs and organisations to share great products and projects they have proved work, and package them up for reuse by others. This way we can all get a leg up when trying to stand on the shoulders of giants. 

Southwark, Brent, Lambeth and, of course, Hackney are confirmed and we’ve got another 5 or 6 waiting in the wings. Really looking forward to this one, even though it’ll be virtual rather than in an East London warehouse with Deborah Meaden.

Digital buddies

We’re ramping up promotion of the Digital buddies programme to attract those in need of a buddy (‘beneficiaries’), by engaging with organisations working with older residents. We know there are a number of social groups and lunch clubs whose participants would jump at this service and we’ll be leveraging our existing relationships to get Digital buddies on their radar.

Similarly, Meg has briefed social prescribers about the scheme and we’re looking forward to working with them and seeing them ‘prescribe’ Digital buddies for those patients who warrant a one-to-one approach.

We’ve created a Google site for buddies, beneficiaries and schools who may be interested in participating in Digital buddies. Having everything in one place (including the risk assessment Lynn’s just drafted for schools), makes it easier for people to learn more about the programme before signing up, and gives us a consistent place to signpost to in our publicity and comms. 

We know what we’re doing is working as buddies and beneficiaries who’ve gone through the programme have told us via their evaluations. With that knowledge in hand, we’re now working on a plan to render Digital buddies sustainable in the longer term. 

Digital skills

On Digital skills, we’ve added some more signposting links including to Learnmyway and Makeitclick who are creating content for the digitally-challenged amongst us. Which is probably all of us at some point. I still can’t find Apple TV via the remote and I’m delivering a Digital Divide project for goodness sake!

We now have flyers and posters advertising the Digital skills page in Morrison’s, on estate notice boards, on posters in the HSC lobby and going out with new and refurb’ed devices from Hackney Council, Hackney Quest and Wick Award, Plus, as of last Saturday’s 11km walk around the back streets of Hackney, in one or two pharmacies. Next stop: park notice boards and the mobile library. 

Plus, due to Meg’s relentless publicity tour, we now have CCG, assistive technology and social prescribing teams referring patients to Digital skills should they be in need of a boost in tech know-how.

We are working with Comms on a campaign that will include press releases, posters in bus stops and active social media engagement to encourage click-throughs to our content.

As with Digital buddies, we need to consider the longer term options for our Digital skills page. Do we continue to scale with more content for different audiences – or do we step away? We’ll be discussing options with potential funders in the next couple of weeks.

As ever, get in touch via, or if you want to be added to or removed from the mailing list. Read our backstory on the HackIT blog.

Finding support services weeknote 21/09/20

tl;dr (Too Long; Didn’t Read)…

  • GDS Assessment complete and we are good to go (wahoo)
  • We’re upskilling ourselves using expertise from within our own team
  • Getting ready for launch including; comms, implementing recommendations from our GDS Assessment and delivering on time (and within budget!)
  • We are recruiting an individual from the Hackney redeployment scheme to support this project post go-live (take a look and get in touch)

And the detail

GDS Assessment complete and we are good to go (wahoo)

This is important. A GDS Assessment, for those that don’t know, is an assessment to ensure a digital product/ service has been designed using best-practice principles set by the government before it is delivered. The Digital Service Standard is a set of 18 criteria to help the government create and run good digital services. It helps digital teams to build services that are simple, clear and fast (and prevents any delays to delivery if your assessment goes well). It also ensures that the product is accessible and at a suitable standard for the end-users (most important). 

Some high level feedback from our assessors:

“really impressed by the way that you identified your problem and dealt with a diverse set of user groups with competing needs”

“You delivered [the MVP] at pace [due to Covid] but used it intelligently as an opportunity to gather data and insight from your users to build an improved service”

“Our [main] recommendation would be to conduct some [more] accessibility checks”

“[You’ve] reused standards, technologies and components from existing approaches [and made] sensible decisions around security and monitoring”

Here is a photo of us on ours last week! 

We’re upskilling ourselves 

When we have a multidisciplinary team full of wonderfully talented people, why shouldn’t we share our skills with each other? Exactly. We’d done just that with the Find support services comms plan. 

We acknowledge that communications and engagement is key to ensure this product remains front of mind for our end-users. We have to put the leg work in for this, especially at first. 

On that note, we have a monthly communications plan (guidance has been received from Hackney Council comms and the C&H Integrated Care Partnership comms leads). It’s a mix of internal (newsletters) and external (Twitter/ Case studies & other) comms channels where a member of the team is allocated a week to own and deliver. 

We have received great feedback from VCSOs about how much they are enjoying and find values in our weekly ‘spotlight on’ Twitter posts (case studies). So here’s our latest… 

(if you know of anyone, a VCSO or a colleague that may be interested in featuring, please get in touch)

Oh and we are also doing a lot of offline marketing (see Susan’s latest weeknote for info on this) and we’re not stopping. Susan cycled over and dropped off 40 posters to the team responsible for pinning new and updating the notice boards in estates. 

Getting ready for launch

There are three key things we are doing.

  1. Planning a comms launch plan with Hackney Council and City of London comms teams 
  2. Implement recommendations from the GDS Assessment 
  3. Ensure we are delivering our product on time and within budget (thanks to Nudge for being so transparent on this!)

There are, of course, many other things we need to do in the run up to launch. For example, do a copy sweep of the sites to make sure of our style and consistency; and ensure the whole shebang is secure. To the latter, we’ve already checked in with our in-house security team (aka Mac) and the urls have been added to the fortnightly security scanning list so any issues should be picked up pronto.

Even though launch is looming… we are still learning and iterating 

The full-time project admin we are securing funding on (thank you Prevention team for your ongoing support on this) is going to take a little longer than anticipated (no-one’s fault, just how timelines have worked out!). As such, we are recruiting an individual from the Hackney redeployment scheme to tide us over and into the New Year. Watch this space. If you’re interested, take a look and get in touch. 

We are starting to retire iCare formally and it is proving to be a little more tricky to pin everything down than expected. Which is ok as we have time, but we it’s an important learning. Any ICT Contracts should be added to the ICT Contract register. Note to self and all other HackIT projects moving forward!

I could keep going but you will be asleep by the time I finish. So I will stop there.

As always, questions, comments and feedback are welcome. Just drop us a line.

Until next time,


Finding support services weeknote 14/09/20

30s read

  • Demo of front-end and admin interface went well
  • We need to keep a tight rein on budget
  • Service assessment on Tuesday
  • City has the formal go-ahead to join us
  • Funding sought for administrator
  • Lots of chatting to social prescribers, neighbourhoods, GPs, residents

3 min read

The assessors are coming

This week we’ve been busy prepping our ‘evidence’ for each of the 14 standards in Tuesday’s GDS Service Assessment. This process isn’t a gateway at Hackney but it is a vital part of our governance as we invite assessors to review and advise on our work. Thanks to Gill, Felix and our in-bound developer Hugh for ‘volunteering’. If we were in the office, I’d bribe you with crisps. You’re such a decent bunch I didn’t have to do anything but ask. 

While prepping for the assessment, we revisited our stakeholder map. We’ve always gone for core/consult/inform as, really, why obsess whether someone is in the ‘keep satisfied’ or ‘keep informed’ quadrant? We have 170 people on our weeknote distribution list plus whoever reads Google Currents and the HackIt Blog. If someone’s not ‘informed’ it’s not for want of trying. 

In other news, City has the official go ahead to add its services to Hackney’s; and we’ve finalised the verification resources for both City and Hackney so the administrator will know where to check whether the organisation is bone fide

One careful owner

Funding for the administration of this service is crucial. Though we’ve designed a model that requires minimal overhead, without what’s essentially a Product Owner, Find support services will suffer the same fate as every other directory and not be up to date. Indeed, any product or service without an owner will find its way to obsolescence pretty quickly. The role’s been graded, at PO1 and around £35k and we’re speaking to Comms and Public Health next week about where this role should sit. We’ve put a request out for a redeployed member of staff to cover the initial phase as it seems unlikely we’ll find someone by mid-October’s launch. 

Our digital partner Nudge demo’ed the admin interface and public-facing site on Thursday – the latter is looking very close to the mockups, which is always a relief. Writing the API and hooking it up to the database and front-ends is progressing also. 

Budget is getting extremely tight and we’re working closely with Nudge to make sure we don’t stretch those purse strings. We don’t have any more cash so that’s a good motivator for us all. We’ve moved to fortnightly sprints to limit the fixed costs of sprint-planning and demos, switched to a QA- rather than development-testing model to max out velocity; and deprioritised a couple of stories that could be a fast-follow if necessary. Hackney is a learning organisation and Nudge has suggestions for how HackIT could work more efficiently with agencies and we should take this advice on board. 

Talking heads

Meg’s been off this week so Kate and I presented to the North East London Social Prescribing Digital Technology Group instead. While NELSPDTG is not the easiest acronym, however, our work was very well received and we’re hopeful they’ll use our data, and bolt on any other functionality they require. Similarly, our own Front Door team (great Show and Tell, by the way) is finishing up the conversational prompts tool for customer services and we’ll be looking to incorporate Find support services resources into that as soon as our API is ready. 

I joined the London Fields Neighbourhoods team on Tuesday, and had a productive half hour with reps from voluntary organisations, Mutual Aid groups and social prescribers. It’s amazing what snippets of information you pick up in these calls and we’ll be running a similar workshop with the Shoreditch equivalent this week. Shame we couldn’t have actually had it in London Fields. 

As ever, we’ve been non-stop on the marketing. Emma’s been rocking the comms plan and has us in the GP Bulletin and our own staff newsletter. Meanwhile, I’ve taken 200 flyers over to Paul in Robert House so they can go out with Chromebooks headed to vulnerable young people and, right now, it’s off to Morrison’s to get flyers and posters in front of shoppers in Stamford Hill. And cat litter. 

Next week, once the service assessment is signed, sealed and delivered, we’ll be looking at metrics and how to visualise data best. Infographic, anyone? 

Bridging the digital skills divide: weeknote 3/9

Welcome to the latest ‘bridging the digital skills divide’ weeknote.

It’s September already? That means Christmas is coming, right? (only 113 days) 

Anyway, onto the ‘work’ stuff. Below is a summary of what we’ve been up to and what’s next. As always, get in touch if you have any questions, feedback or want to get involved!

30s read

Digital buddy programme continues to grow – City Academy (providing young buddies) coming on board in September with others following from October

Evaluation process for buddies and beneficiaries completed

Digital Skills webpage has received 2k page views since it launched

New video content launched to support our buddy programme

Virtual Group Consultation guidance for patients embedded in the training programme for C&H GP Practice staff 

Seeking pitches from other orgs to present at DigiLeaders conference

What we’ve been up to

1. Digital buddy programme

One external beneficiary has received training this week and was so happy with her Instagram training via her young buddy she has written a poem about the experience and signed up for further training

The young buddy has enjoyed a positive experience training his first external beneficiary and will be continuing to deliver for the programme

The young buddy volunteer recruitment pathways have now been confirmed (yay!) with City Academy coming on board in September 

Evaluation process for both parties has been completed with the inclusion of case study templates and a follow up evaluation for beneficiaries.

Up next

The young Buddy volunteer recruitment continues to grow, with Stoke Newington School joining in October, and Mossbourne Academy some time after that.

We’re looking forward to including the next cohort of ICT Support Apprentices to our buddy programme as they start their training

2. Digital Skills webpage 

Our minimum viable webpage has received 2k page views since it launched – our comms has been super targeted given our audience (over 50s) and we’re very happy with this number – we’re beginning to explore how this can be scaled and what longer-term success looks like

Launched ‘Get started with Instagram’ video to support our buddy programme

Winston has revisited some of the Housing with care scheme residents and staff (remotely) to carry out more research. The good news is, since we slowed down the existing videos, they are finding them much better paced. 

Our Virtual Group Consultation guidance for patients has been embedded (as a resource) in the training programme being rolled out to all City & Hackney GP Practice staff

With our work with our pilot GP practice, we have found that some of the tools that patients and staff are expected to use are not fit for purpose. There needs to be a broader conversation around whether these tools should be progressed at all. For example, MS Teams can be difficult for patients to access (especially for the first time, and without an NHS account) causing drop-off in virtual group consultation attendance. GP practices are also spending much time administering Patient Access but the fundamental tool is not user-friendly. The aim of our programme of work is to help end users develop basic digital skills rather than to shore up poor software. We’ll be exploring how we can turn this insight into actionable outcomes in coming weeks. 

Up next

Establish criteria for prioritisation of how-to content (there are a lot of requests coming through – great, but we need to ensure we have a governance structure around it e.g. order a repeat prescription)

Find out if carers and residents have improved their skills and confidence since we first spoke to them – early insight says yes but we’re continuing to interview this week and will be analysing the final results early next. 

Support the Assistive Technology programme team (Hey, Eden & Co!) in Adult Services on a pilot project where people experiencing social isolation will be given a device, data and support to connect with others. We will be developing accompanying guidance to help people use their new device to get to the Digital Skills webpage where they can learn how to Whatsapp, join Zoom and start socialising digitally! 

Explore how and if digital skills should be extended into ‘workforce digital skills’ (e.g. how to facilitate a virtual meeting, set up a Google form) 

Explore how we can improve the usability of the web page

3. Digital divide conference

We now have a slot of 14 October at 4pm at the DigiLeaders conference

Up next

We’re approaching London boroughs to pitch at the DigiLeaders conference 

4. Comms 

We’ve been cycling round the care homes Hackney has given devices to so we can get those Digital skills stickers on them and flyers on the notice boards. Still a few more to go.

We texted over 65s patients in our pilot GP practice with a link to the digital skills page – that’s over 600 people from one surgery!

We’ve written a business case to get funding from the IT Enabler Board to help scale this work – fingers crossed!

Up next

We’ve started mapping out the road for where we believe this programme of work could go.

We’re looking to get our posters on estate notice boards, parks notice boards and in Morrison’s supermarket

We want to get the rest of our stickers and flyers out with devices that are sent out to residents (whether via LBH or external)

Presenting the project to the Integrated Care Board (ICB) next week – great to see such engagement and support on this programme from the City & Hackney Integrated Care Partnerships’ senior leadership team!

Hope to welcome City of London colleagues into our core project team – all about a system approach

Work with LBH comms team (and perhaps C&H Integrated Care Comms Leads) to promote this further to our target audiences

Bridging the digital skills divide weeknote 18/08/20

30s read

  • How to Google Hangout added to Digital skills page
  • Comms live on waste trucks, estate digital notice boards, stickers on devices, flyers at food providers
  • Two buddies trained; two beneficiaries helped; comms plan for recruiting more buddies taking shape in time for Back to School
  • Working with LOTI and GLA on hosting a session at DigiLeaders

3min read

Our approach to the digital divide is strengths-based. This means, we ask individuals to first try and help themselves – by, for example, watching our how-to videos on the Digital skills page. This may well be the end of the journey for some but, if that doesn’t cut it, they can ring the helpline number on that page for specific advice. Finally, if they still feel at a loss, there’s always our Buddies scheme for one-to-one support around their digital issues. 

How to Google

Trying to help yourself first is not just about limited resources – though we can’t offer a buddy to everyone in Hackney who has a digital skills barrier. Helping yourself is a key skill in the tech world. Developers who are programming websites and software do not have all that knowledge in their heads, they are regularly Googling and researching how to do something just like the rest of us. It’s probably just a lot more complicated like ‘How do I request a packet for node axios?’ [me neither]. If we can get the message ‘It’s okay to Google’ across to residents and start them off with the tools to do that, we’ll have scaled a large part of the digital barrier. 

Of course, we do have a video of ‘How to search the Internet’ on the Digital skills page. This week, we’ve added ‘How to join a Google Hangout’. Exercise classes run by the Council have been using Hangouts since lockdown so this is a welcome addition for the keep fit crowd. Less so for Lynn (our Buddy hero) who’s had to teach some of those boxfit classes as part of her day job in Sports. Feel the burn!

Best of Buddies

Two buddies have now been trained by Lynn, and she’s gathered their feedback and honed the training process as a result. We’ve also ironed out any lingering issues around consent, GDPR and safeguarding with Nick in Info Management. Our waiting list has grown to about 15 beneficiaries wanting a buddy and, with schools back in the next couple of weeks, we’re ramping up recruitment of buddies to match them. Our comms plan is taking shape to drive this. 

We’re chatting this afternoon with Mons and Colin in IT Support about the possibility of adding Buddy experience to their apprentices’ curriculum. This would not only benefit the apprentices but would also allow us to make use of the share screen and video calling functionality that we’re not able to offer via our school age buddies. We’ll be following this up early September as the new ‘term’ starts.

We’re keeping an eye on what buddies want to learn and feeding it into our video production cycle. Two beneficiaries so far wanted to learn about Instagram so we are just finishing off the script for a ‘How to Instagram’ video. 

Winston’s been continuing his user research with residents and staff in care homes. As a result, we’ve added pauses to our earlier videos as the voiceover was too quick for some. 

Lorry at large

There’s no point in doing any of this if nobody knows about it. Comms remains a massive part of our strategy. Thanks to our friends in Waste, we tracked down one of the lorries taking our Digital skills message to the streets. The lorry’s creating quite a stir, and may need its own Instagram account soon. 

Minna in Comms did a great (and fast) job on the advert for Digital skills. We’ve used the same MP4 on the digital notice boards in estates and it’s gone out to surgeries for the digital screens in waiting rooms.

Talking of GPs, they’re now texting those patients who need a prescription of digital skills, a link to our Digital skills page. This week, we’re rolling out the ability to group text particular cohorts such as the over 60s with the same message. Individual and group texts use two different tools but at least all surgeries in the borough use the same two. 

Lots of LOTI

We continue to team with LOTI on the conference idea, and they received encouraging feedback from boroughs including Kingston and Newham when they floated the idea at their last meeting. Rather than going it alone, we’re hoping to tie up with DigiLeaders Week running 11-16 October so we benefit from their hosting platform and leverage their publicity machine to maximise reach.

We’re going with a pitch-style event where organisations try and ‘sell’ their ‘product’ for reuse to other organisations that might be in the market to ‘buy’ it. Obviously with no money actually changing hands as this is the public sector and we love to share. Rather than a blanket request for pitches, we’re considering targeting specific ‘products’ we know are ripe for reuse, and the GLA is helping us out with this. 

Gotta go. Off on my new bike to collect our Digital skills stickers from the Town Hall, ready to be put on every device we and our partners distribute. Likely back there tomorrow when our A5 flyers are ready (they’re headed to food and meals providers) and possibly again next week when the A4 posters going up in estates are hot off the press. All are promoting the Digital skills page so people know where to turn to for help.

At least by cycling to the Town Hall, I can legitimately skip Lynn’s boxfit class. Phew!

That’s us for now. Remember to check out previous weeknotes and you can drop us a note to