Spotlight on Digital Technology

Thursday, 21 March 2019 - 3:59pm

The PLUS Project held a Spotlight on Digital Technology in the homelessness sector on the 20th March. 

Speakers included New Horizon Youth Centre (NHYC)West London MissionBEAM and Reboot, all innovative and inspiring projects who have used digital technology to increase awareness, run campaigns, fundraise and increase digital skills to those with lived experience of homelessness.

Why run an event on digital technology?

Using social media can be immensely beneficial to any organisation and those with lived experience of homelessness. Take BEAM for example, a project that uses crowd-funding to pay for training, clothing and childcare so homeless people can return to work. The project supports individuals through training and back into work. The project has seen some brilliant outcomes. Over £250,000 has been raised from public donations, 87% of members have completed their training, 70% have started work and 33% have moved on from temporary accommodation. Where would this money come from otherwise?

Not using digital technology, or not using the technology effectively, could result in homelessness organisations missing out on a very powerful marketing tool and therefore showing the valuable work you do, increasing supporter base and funding opportunities. Of course, there are challenges using technology, however support is available.

What is the best way to tell my story on social media?

  • Link any campaign aim to your organisational strategy e.g. NHYC 50th anniversary
  • Be clear about key messages
  • Use narrative to tell a story
  • Visual tools like videos, memes and art work capture attention, quickly engages audiences and is a powerful way of telling your story, e.g. a tour around a project
  • Use upbeat stories and images
  • Engage stakeholders – community groups, schools, churches, funders, local businesses, Local Authorities 
  • Supporters become your champions, which amplifies your message further
  • Provide regular updates to continually engage and update
  • Know your audience and which type of social media is likely to reach them e.g. young people and Instagram
  • Use language appropriate to audience
  • Involving celebrities in campaigns e.g.  NHYC patron, Jon Snow
  • Spacehive – crowd-funding platform

How can I improve my digital skills?

LightfulLondon Housing Foundation and Homeless Link are working in partnership on the BRIDGE Programme. The programme acknowledges digital technology is vital for charities to amplify their voice. However many smaller organisations feel they don’t have the resources to train on digital skills or buy a social media platform. The BRIDGE Programme through a series of webinars, master classes, access to the Lightful platform and direct support, will allow participants to tell their stories more effectively, raise awareness of campaigns, increase their supporter base and improve fundraising opportunities which leads to greater organisational resilience.

Complete the online application (takes 10 minutes) by 5pm Wednesday 27th March 2019. Any queries, contact shona@lightful.com.

What about improving digital skills of those with lived experience?

Key messages for improving digital inclusion are:

  • Use digital technology in everyday support
  • Steer away from using the term “digital” and running IT classes
  • Staff supporting digital tasks rather than doing tasks for clients
  • Staff don’t have to hold all the knowledge – there are opportunities for those with lived experience to cascade learning
  • Focus on client interests
  • Learn by stealth
  • Be creative e.g. researching songs for karaoke night online, bidding for online properties, cookery clubs, skills drop ins
  • Peer support
  • Give people time and space to embed skills

St Mungo’s Recovery College run a wide variety of courses including IT and digital media and is tailored for those with no/limited knowledge to those wanting to further increase their knowledge. The college is open to staff too. For further information and the most up to date prospectus email recovery.college@mungo’s.org.

Download presentations from the day and read tweets from the day via the hashtag #spotlightdigi

Talk To Us

Jane Bancroft

Jane Bancroft

London Development Manager

Jane works with Lisa Raftery on our PLUS project, which provides support to homelessness agencies across London through a mixture of guidance, training and events.

Telephone: 020 7840 4460
Email: jane.bancroft@homelesslink.org.uk