Digital Communities: Week 9 Overview

After a whirlwind three months, Digital Communities in St Helens is wrapping up for Christmas (no pun intended!) and on Friday 11th December the Digital Hub in the Hardshaw Centre closed its doors for the last time.

Over the course of the project, we’ve run over a hundred individual events, workshops and training sessions. And we’ve welcomed over twelve hundred visitors to the Digital Hub – everyone from small business owners wanting specialist web or app training, to complete newcomers to technology simply looking for guidance on how to get the most out of a new tablet device. We’re thrilled that we’ve had the opportunity to inspire, support and educate such a diverse cross-section of the St Helens community.

Local businesses have also had the chance to benefit from Digital Communities. Companies including Unite Healthcare and Bartons Pickles were treated to their very own Digital Makeovers, helping them to streamline processes, save time, and ultimately work far more effectively and flexibly. What’s more, Tyrers Department Store received an innovative piece of kit to expand their successful social media engagement with customers. This took the shape of a bespoke digital clothing rail displaying live social media feeds to demonstrate which items were receiving the most attention online – the more likes and comments an outfit received, the higher the digital light climbed. Perfect for helping shoppers decide which Christmas party style will get the most attention!

We rounded off Digital Communities’ last week by awarding more of our O2 Think Big grants. Five lucky individuals and groups of students from St Helens College successfully pitched their ideas for positive social impact in St Helens, receiving £300 funding each to bring their initiatives to life. Having expertly handled some difficult questions from our judges, three students were also awarded some special prizes…

  • For Best Use of Digital: Megan and her project idea “Cycle”, using young volunteers to bridge the digital divide by helping care home residents with their tech skills.
  • For Best Social Impact: Becky and the “Pamper You” team, which will deliver free beauty and hair treatments to vulnerable people in the St Helens area.
  • And for Best Presentation: Abigail, pictured, for her passionate pitch on “Let There Be Music”, a web platform to connect St Helens’ musical talent with fans and venues.

The very last activities in the Digital Hub were exclusive pitching masterclasses led by three businesses from Wayra, Telefónica’s start-up accelerator. These intensive sessions gave attendees the opportunity to practise their presentation skills and get advice on their own business ideas.

So there you have it – our first Digital Communities project. But even though we’ve vacated our erstwhile home in the Hardshaw Centre, our activity in St Helens isn’t over yet. We’re continuing the partnership by working to install a wifi hotspot in the town centre and exploring work shadowing and mentoring opportunities with St Helens College. We’ve spent three months helping the community to get the best from technology, and we’re looking forward to seeing the longer-term impact.

Visit our website to find out more about how O2 is working with local communities, and join the conversation on Twitter with #HelloStHelens.