Over £1.3 million awarded to 20 charities to transform their digital services through Tech for Good

8th September 2021

Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation have awarded 20 organisations over £1.3 million in grants through their ‘Build’ fund – part of their joint Tech for Good programme. This new digital development fund will support them to strengthen their services in light of the continued impact of Covid-19.

The programme will offer grants of up to £70,000 over a nine-month period between June 2021 and February 2022, giving organisations the chance to explore new approaches to improve people’s lives, alongside access to technical support from experts and advisors at CAST (Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology).

Successful projects include a digital tool to support victims of online abuse; technology to support young people who are homeless; a mobile game app for young people that will use interactive storytelling to destigmatise discussing mental health; and a chatbot to offer specialist advice to disabled and older people with social care needs.

The new ‘Build’ fund supports non-profits to define, develop or re-purpose digital tools, platforms and products that meet a social need or challenge. Tech for Good was originally developed in response to the need for charities to use technology to explore different approaches to delivering better services.  But the Covid-19 pandemic has urgently increased the need for organisations to explore how digital and design capabilities can help transform or maximise their work in supporting vulnerable people. As such, there was a large number of applications for the funding with over 361 applications highlighting the high demand for digital-specific support.

Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive of Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said:

“Over the last year, so many organisations have transformed the way they work to continue to provide vital support amidst unprecedented challenges. As we begin to think about building back, digital development has a critical role to play. We hope that Build will provide these projects with time and space to experiment, to learn from one another and to realise effective digital solutions to help meet pressing social needs. Together with Comic Relief and CAST, we look forward to learning alongside those we support and sharing their work.”

Samir Patel, CEO of Comic Relief, said:

“It’s fantastic that 20 organisations who provide key services for people ranging from domestic abuse to homelessness will be able to transform the digital development of their services. During the pandemic online services have become more important than ever in helping charities continue to provide help to people most in need. I look forward to seeing how each organisation will use digital, design, and data in new ways to increase their impact.”

The successful Tech for Good Build 2021 projects are:

1625 Independent People (opens in new window)is developing the supporting technology for its digitally enabled provision – leading to a remote and in-person hybrid service that is young person-centred and bridges the gaps in communication with young people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or leaving care.

Access Social Care(opens in new window) will iterate on a legal information chatbot to support disabled and older people with social care needs. They will improve their service to provide rapid, specific, practical and actionable specialist advice, for example auto-filling templates.

AVA (opens in new window)(Against Violence and Abuse) will build on a prototype of a web application that is co-created with children and young people with experience of domestic abuse, to support them to recover and address their trauma.

Chayn (opens in new window)is developing their existing survivor-led online trauma support service ‘Bloom’, exploring and responding to how their survivor community uses mental health services, concerns and barriers for digital access, and the value and challenges of participating in a remote support community.

Children North East(opens in new window) will test the viability of using a virtual environment via a game software (Minecraft) to interact with and better meet the counselling needs of young people who find mainstream approaches do not meet their specific needs.

Family Society – Adoption Focus(opens in new window) will re-purpose existing technology to help adopters connect, empowering families who have adopted children to safely build peer-to-peer support networks, complementing their continuing growth and enabling their community to connect regardless of location.

Future Living Hertford(opens in new window) aims to develop a game app for young people to improve their mental health and well-being in their local area, centred around the concept of the sport of boxing as a digital ‘coach in the corner.’

Gendered Intelligence(opens in new window) will create an online space by adopting existing technology which will make it easy to find safe, trans-friendly local events, building community for trans people and combating potential social isolation and loneliness.

Innovating Minds CIC(opens in new window) will build on their existing platform ‘Healing Together’, which enables educational staff, health care workers and community organisations  to access a library of safe, evidence based, trauma-informed support tools for children impacted by domestic abuse. The new developments will increase the provision of effective, early-stage interventions for all children and young people.

Law Centres Network(opens in new window) will work in partnership with Greater Manchester Law Centre (opens in new window)to co-design a system to better manage legal support enquiries, and share client information between agencies to improve user experiences and access for people facing homelessness, with the potential to scale nationally if successful.

On Our Radar Ltd.(opens in new window) has prototyped a digital platform that facilitates dialogue between communities affected by homelessness and the organisations that support them. This will help the housing and homelessness charities to remotely connect with their communities and better respond to the experiences of those facing homelessness.

Shelter Cymru(opens in new window) will develop their free digital advice resource to respond to increasing demand from people in poor housing or facing homelessness, to provide timely online personalised support that is tailored to individual needs.

Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse(opens in new window) will digitise their accreditation scheme for NHS Trusts, streamlining the implementation of best practice in healthcare when responding to domestic abuse. They will also create a forum for health professionals to connect.

South West Grid for Learning Trust(opens in new window), who operate the Revenge Porn and Report Harmful Content helplines, will create a digital tool to support victims of online harm and abuse. It will give people the advice they need in their own time to help remove intimate content, report crimes, assert legal rights and access wider support.

Tender Education and Arts(opens in new window) will further develop their gaming-based digital tool to support neurodiverse young people and those with learning disabilities to understand healthy relationships.

The Bike Project(opens in new window) will create ‘Cyber Cyclists’, a platform supported by off the shelf technology, connecting refugees for local rides, matching with volunteers, attending online workshops and classes, reducing social isolation, improving well-being and facilitating greater independence.

Unseen UK(opens in new window) operates a confidential helpline that provides support and advice to victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. They will improve and anonymise their data collection systems to build powerful, share-able evidence bases to better inform those in the sector and disrupt/prevent modern slavery.

UN Women National Committee UK(opens in new window) is creating a mobile-first activist hub where women and girls can access educational materials and find opportunities to take action, responding to a need for an accessible safe space for activism online.

WellChild (opens in new window)is co-designing a UK-wide, crowd-sourced, simplified wiki of up-to-date local services and support for children with serious and complex health needs that parents can access.

YouthLink Scotland(opens in new window) is partnering with Passion4Fusion(opens in new window) to co-create a mobile game app with young people from Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities in Scotland that will use interactive storytelling to destigmatise discussing mental health, signpost safe services and good mental health management.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Comic Relief are committed to sharing the journey of these projects and the ideas they generate so that others can learn from their experiences. Visit the Tech for Good Hub(opens in new window) for further information and resources.