I work a lot with We Share Stuff, a Birmingham based Social Enterprise who focus on Digital Inclusion.
Who are We Share Stuff?
The company was set up by Jon Bounds and Stuart Parker in response to a lack of meaningful methods of developing confidence and competence in the use of technology and new media to those who are currently ‘digitally excluded’. They provide bespoke training, mentoring and consultation with social aims in mind.
Earlier this year, the company hosted the successful Digital Inclusion Unconference, gathering people working with those that don’t or can’t take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Internet from across the UK to discuss methods and techniques that can help people gain opportunities and abilities socially, within the community and for employment. The company is an accredited Open College Network provider and runs tailored courses helping young offenders gain skills to help them find employment and develop community networks. We Share Stuff also offers training to other social enterprises, through its links with BRAP, helping them make the most of networking and online marketing opportunities.
Two ground-breaking new projects
We Share Stuff recently received funding from Becta to develop their innovative peer-to-peer mentoring service ‘Five Minute Mentors’. The company also won one of only six places in the Jailbrake competition run by Nesta and the Social Innovation Camp for their ‘MyPA’ reminder service.
Introducing Five Minute Mentors
Five Minute Mentors is an easy to use web- and phone-based application enabling co-mentoring within existing groups in a way that allows individuals to be either mentor or mentee, depending on their knowledge level. Learners or group members make contact via a highly secure environment and to a schedule that fits their own time constraints. 5MM aims to promote shared knowledge, improving the learning experience for all.
Stuart Parker calls for existing learner groups to be involved at this early stage: “As part of the pilot for the project we are actively looking for suitable groups – at all levels of ability, subject knowledge and technical know-how – to help us fully beta-test the application, iron out any functional issues and provide feedback for improvements to the finished service. Our development costs are covered by Becta funding, so any involvement of your organisation in this project would not require any financial outlay by you or the group members/learners testing the service.”
Please contact either myself or We Share Stuff directly if you’d like your learners to take part.
MyPA is an online system that sends out SMS reminders to young people, helping them keep track of order restrictions, meetings, appointments, and other commitments. Managed in conjunction with case workers it offers tailored ‘nudges’, such as appointment reminders along with more detailed advice such as public transport info.
Jon Bounds said “In our work with NEETs, time management is a big factor. The young people have any number of important appointments but no regular routine – Youth Offending Teams, for instance, spend a lot of time and effort making sure the young people are in the right place at the right time. MyPA offers a collaborative way of helping them to organise themselves. It recognises the difficulty in adjusting to taking responsibility for scheduling themselves and allows case workers to help in that process. It’s a way of offering help at the points it’s most needed.”
The organisers of Jailbrake commented on their website “We loved MyPA because, whilst text messages are used in some areas already to help remind young people of appointments and commitments, this idea could create a white-label tool that could be customised by young people and those who support them to suit lots of different situations and localities.”
We Share Stuff actively seek opportunities to collaborate with other social enterprises, businesses and community leaders to develop projects that benefit individuals, employers and the larger community. For more information about We Share Stuff’s current and planned projects, please visit www.wesharestuff.org