Harnessing the power of digital

By Ross McCulloch (Director, Third Sector Lab) on 13th May 2020

Our recent DigiShift zoom was packed with insights and inspiration from charity professionals working with children and young people. This blog pulls together ten great examples of organisations delivering digital services that you can learn from.

Barnardo’s – WhatsApp as a tool to engage with vulnerable children

Barnardo’s have been incredibly open and generous in sharing their learning and processes from their journey with WhatsApp as a service delivery tool. The charity responded to demand from young people who said they wanted to connect with staff on the channel.

Barnardo’s started with journey mapping workshops and co-designed the service with children. Using an agile, iterative approach, the charity turned around a new service incredibly quickly. All welcome packs and agreements were offered digitally reducing the admin burden and making it easier for children to engage.

YoungScot – Scotland’s First Minister & National Clinical Director answer coronavirus questions live

Scotland’s young person’s charity YoungScot has been embracing live stream content during the coronavirus outbreak. Their Q&A with Nicola Sturgeon and Jason Leitch is a great example of giving young people access to experts using technology that doesn’t have to be complicated.

Live streaming doesn’t necessarily mean expensive kit – a decent mic and HD webcam are all that’s really needed to get started. Using a platform like Restream allows you to stream live video to multiple channels at once – to YouTube, Facebook, Twitch and many more.

Settle – Collecting consent via SMS text

Settle is a social enterprise that designs and delivers support services to vulnerable young people, tackling youth homelessness. In response to Covid19, Settle has adapted their service to be delivered over the phone, as some of their clients don’t have access to the internet.

In order to provide this service they must get consent. As a result, Settle has been collecting consent via text messages. They use this old-school approach alongside Google Docs. The shared storage space allows the social enterprise to privately store consent that can be accessed by staff. Pictures of consents are saved on the company-shared Google Drive.

Articulate – Live comedy workshops for young people

The charity Articulate has been providing a wide range of free arts and cultural activities for young people online throughout Covid-19. Award winning comedian Viv Gee is running a special workshop for young people giving them techniques to develop their own comedy sketch from their lived experiences.

Score Scotland – Online youth clubs

Strengthening Communities for Race Equality Scotland (SCOREscotland) is a voluntary organisation serving the minority ethnic communities in the West of Edinburgh.

Over the Easter holidays SCORE ran a wide range of clubs online for children and young people. Sessions included creative writing, arts & crafts, geoscience and more. While kids can’t go to school or access face-to-face clubs the third sector is stepping up to provide a much needed safe space online.

The Mix – Creating Coronavirus-specific content for young people

While we often think of digital services as something that involves a complicated platform it is important that we give credit to the hard work of charities in shaping content to the needs of a younger audience without dumbing it down.

The Mix have been excellent at this with articles on coping with family relationships during lockdown, how to get medical help, dealing with money worries and much more. The Mix’s online resources are made even better by their use of beautiful illustrations.

Paisley YMCA – Running online coding sessions

The always-innovative YMCA in Paisley have taken their successful CodeDojo sessions online. In the interests of being inclusive they’ve also been working to get refurbished devices and data to local young people who have neither.

Here is a great how-to video from CoderDojo on how to run online sessions.

Young Somerset – One to one therapy online

The charity Young Somerset rapidly moved their therapy service online and managed to meet their NHS commissioner’s information governance and security requirements.

They did this by reaching out to peer organisations facing similar challenges and mapping risks and safeguarding concerns. A combination of Zoom, Whatsapp, email, phone and Facebook worked incredibly well for their service roll-out.

We Are With You – Web chat to support clients with addiction issues

Formerly known as Addaction, We Are With You offer web chat services to support people dealing with addiction and mental health. They have one web chat team that is responsible for the whole service, from helping with addiction to mental health.

It took just one week to get the web chat services up and running. The charity uses a combination of LiveChat Inc and Sling to make the service work seamlessly.

YoungScot – Delivering Coronavirus content tailored specifically for young people

YoungScot get a second mention on this list as their content strategy has been incredible throughout the crisis. The YoungScot website ticks all the boxes in terms of really thinking about user-needs. It delivers clear content on topics such as ‘supporting your community during the outbreak’, ‘looking after your mental wellbeing during covid-19’ and ‘coronavirus jargon-buster’.

There’s tons more examples of digital service delivery on the giant Covid-19 Google Doc. It is an open-source document, so feel free to add your own examples of best practice in harnessing the power of digital.