The opportunities available through digital media to enhance service delivery can be fantastic. Sometimes, though, they are not as great as they should be.
BHT has been involved in a very exciting digital media pilot through the Brighton and Hove Advice Partnership. The Partnership was awarded £325,730 from the Big Lottery Advice Services Transition Fund for a number of different initiatives, including a pilot to provide a webcam advice service. Appointments can be booked online and I am delighted that it has proven to be really successful.
That’s not just my view, it is the opinion of an independent consultant, Vicky Ling of Partnership Quality Systems. Vicky was appointed to evaluate the pilot and to work with the partnership to produce a toolkit to help support other organisations interested in developing a similar service.
Vicky’s report highlighted the successes of the project. I was particularly pleased by her comments about the role of service user involvement in the design of the service, that the service has reached client groups who find it difficult to access traditional faces to face services, and the increase in users’ confidence in accessing digital services more generally.
Key highlights of Vicky’s report are:
“The project has achieved a great deal and the feedback has been very positive from users and stakeholders. There is a ‘can do’ attitude which has created a valuable service for the community…the major successes can be summarised as:
- A good example of partnership working and collaboration between a wide range of voluntary sector organisations
- Strong user involvement the design of the service
- Having overcome some initial scepticism to become a valued part of advice services in Brighton and Hove
- Delivering additional casework in the complex areas of welfare rights and housing, which has become significantly less available since the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) became law in 2013
- Reaching client groups who find it difficult to access traditional face to face services
- Increasing users’ confidence in accessing digital services more generally
- Having potential for development through involving law students”