PDFs of the articles, in alphabetical order, that I wrote for Third Sector magazine over the last couple of years.
Government targets for digital inclusion should make charities sit up and listen, says Damian Radcliffe
The Government recently published an interim report on the Digital Britain initiative, its project “to secure the UK’s place at the forefront of innovation, investment and quality in the digital and communications industries”.
Digital Britain is based on the belief that the digital economy can outperform the rest of the market in terms of providing jobs, developing skills and generating income. The report contains more than 20 recommendations, including eye-catching proposals for “universal broadband connectivity” – getting every household online and using broadband by 2012. There are hurdles to overcome to realise this ambition, not least those of supply (some areas currently can’t get broadband at the 2Mbps speed the report recommends in order to upload and download information efficiently) and demand (only 59 per cent of households currently have broadband).
However, the Government clearly feels these obstacles are surmountable, so charities need to consider what this might mean for them. The year 2012 is not that far away. In its simplest sense, the challenge can be broken into three areas: content, visibility and digital literacy skills.
If 100 per cent of homes have broadband, old media consumption will continue to decline. A strong online presence will therefore become even more important than it already is.
It’s no use having great content if nobody knows who you are, so make sure people can find you through internet search engines and that your site is easy to navigate. Good branding, design and a recognisable online profile matter if you want your organisation to stand out.
Charities should also ensure that their staff and, in many cases, beneficiaries have the skills and knowledge to benefit from a fully digital Britain. No doubt the BBC, government, schools and others will all play a role in developing these skills, but many people will inevitably be self-taught. Charities should therefore encourage their staff to follow them on a digital journey so that the whole organisation is in a position to understand and benefit from the potential of universal broadband. Those who don’t risk being left behind.
George W Bush once asked: “Will the highways on the internet become more few?” That’s a difficult one to answer, but the direction of traffic is clear. Where we’re going we don’t need roads, but it looks like we’re all going to need broadband. So buckle up and get ready for the ride.
- Damian Radcliffe is the manager for English regions at Ofcom and writes in a personal capacity
Volunteers are being encouraged to share their experiences in a project to inspire would-be volunteers. CSV’s Volunteer Britain competition is looking for films, digital stories and audio clips from professionals, amateurs and under-18s.
The winning entries will be screened at a gala event in London next month, and will also be shown on the Community Channel and at special regional screenings.
The competition is being run in conjunction with the Year of the Volunteer, and all entries will be archived for future use by the media.
Damian Radcliffe, national broadcast manager at CSV, says: “The standard of entries has been really good so far; there have been some incredibly moving stories.
“We hope that by seeing others get something out of volunteering, people will be inspired to volunteer themselves.
“But it’s not just about getting new people to try volunteering; it’s also about giving people the chance to tell their own stories. There’s no editorial agenda so it means people will get to hear voices that normally go unheard.”
Helen Potter began volunteering at the Burd drop-in centre for people with mental health issues in Gwent, Wales, after she was diagnosed as a manic depressive. She has made a digital story, comprising a collection of stills with a voiceover, for Volunteer Britain. She says: “Volunteering helped my confidence and self-esteem, so much so that I went back to education to get a BTec in counselling.
“I felt people responded to me because they knew I could relate to what they were going through. They also knew I was there because I wanted to be, not because I was getting paid.
“I decided to make a digital story because I wanted to show people that, even if you are diagnosed as a manic depressive or have other mental health issues, you can rebuild your life.”
Potter adds: “A lot of people who might think they have nothing to offer as a volunteer have experiences of, say, dealing with a particular illness, which would help them relate to others in a similar position.”
The Volunteer Britain competition closes on 16 September. Visit http://www.csv.org.uk/volunteerbritain.