Immersed in digital: my first few months at VONNE

I started working for VONNE as a Partnerships and Projects Support Officer in January and the main word everyone was talking about was digital.  

Unsurprisingly given the pandemic we’ve been doing a lot of work on this, and we’re part of Better ConNEcted, a collaboration that has distributed laptops from CityFibre and pay as you go routers from HartlePower’s Get Connected programme across the North East. We’ve worked with Not Equal at Newcastle University’s Open Lab to produce a report on Tackling Digital Poverty in the North East of England. And currently, we’re working alongside Humber and Wolds Rural Action and East Riding Voluntary Action Services to map digital inclusion across the north with on behalf of NAVCA and the National VCS Emergencies Partnership. This research will highlight best practice and areas of challenge so we can make key recommendations to policy makers.  

To get me into the swing of things, one of my first projects was to work with our CEO, Carol Botten on Catalyst’s Definition programme. We worked at pace to develop a prototype website for the VONNE Climate Action Alliance (VCAA). The 10-week programme was intense but we managed to achieve a lot in a short space of time. We really had to focus on the needs of our user groups so we could develop something that would be of real benefit to them. The VCAA aims to encourage the North East VCSE community to take climate action by linking up with active climate organisations to share expertise and resources collaboratively.  

We learned a lot on the programme. Carol got to grips with WordPress and set up the prototype site and I learned how valuable Excel can be as a timetabling tool. When I started in my role at VONNE I didn’t expect to be learning about user experience (UX) design and helping make websites, but I’m really glad to have gained some new skills that will be useful for different projects going forward. 

So what next? 

While we’re still fully developing the VCAA site, my next project has been to work alongside our Deputy Chief Executive, Anne Fry, who is our digital champion, to help launch Digital Pathfinders, a collaborative service we’re part of with Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley, Steam Digital and Generator. 

Digital Pathfinders helps SMEs, charities and social enterprises across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland become more successful and resilient by adopting digital technology. The programme is part-funded by Digital Catapult and North of Tyne Combined Authority.  

VONNE’s role within the project is to help VCSE organisations find their path to using digital more efficiently through a series of seminars, workshops and bespoke one to one sessions. The first theme for events will focus on returning to the workplace by looking at aspects of digital that can assist in a seamless transition, including communications tools, data and cyber security, websites and social media.  

We’re currently calling for experts to become part of the programme so we can fully address the needs of the VCSE sector in the North of Tyne area. If you’re a tech expert with experience working in or with the VCSE sector, or you know someone who is, here’s the application form.  

I’m really excited that Digital Pathfinders is up and running. It's going to be a great opportunity for me to further develop my own skills, as well as help organisations along their digital path.  

If you want to be the first to hear about the events and support on offer as part of Digital Pathfinders, or talk to someone about your specific needs, register for the programme and we’ll be in touch.  

For more information about anything I’ve mentioned, email me at georgia.goncalves@vonne.org.uk.