Roaring into 2019

2018 has roared to a close and we now look to what 2019 brings us all.

The past year has been great for New Union and for me personally (Wolverhampton Wanderers topping the English Championship and getting promoted to the Premiership, mostly).

It’s been a busy year that has seen us continue our work in German and head out to Malta for the first time, we also made new friends in Africa.

November saw us designing a range of participative tools officers can use to gather intelligence on how citizens can influence digital policy for the Sächsische Landtag (the Government of Saxony, a state in German) which was a fantastic experience and something we look forward to doing again.

But, the international theme did not stop there with us linking up with Ugandan social innovation organisation Pollicy to create #TraffickHack, which put together young social activists from Kampala and here in the West Midlands to develop a digital culture exchange on the very important subject of human trafficking via a hackathon, a series of blogs and a digital toolkit.

Findings from the UK #TraffickHack18 hackathon

In 2019 we hope to continue to work abroad but we are still committed to working in our local area, including continuing our excellent iSandwell work with Sandwell Council and we are looking forward to linking up with Wolverhampton City Council later this month to bring Data Brew to the area, as we need with Lichfield District Council and Sandwell last year.

In regards to iSandwell it has been a fantastic year with far too much engagement to list in one paragraph (you can learn more here) but it was fantastic to receive recognition and support from local MP and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson and Margot James who is the UK Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries, the latter saying:

“A crucial part of the development of the digital agenda is the third sector. As both the private and public sectors upskill and develop their use of digital, so must the third sector to continue to achieve the great successes that organisations up and down the country achieve on a daily basis. In order to do that we must involve local communities and projects like iSandwell can help to perform that function.”

New Union also started working with Dudley Council this year, mostly around youth participation, including running the first #DemJam hackathon held in Council Chambers giving local young people the opportunity to create a piece of work that can influence policy that affects them.

This also gave young people the opportunity to put these questions to their local MP with Mike Wood MP, Ian McFadden MP and Ian Austin MP taking part.

Along with all that we were lucky to work with a range of third sector organisations, including designing the Digi Diner platform for SCIPS, a range of workshops and a toolkit that helps tenant and residents associations to get the best out of social media.

So that’s not everything but a little snapshot, 2018 was a busy year and I am sure 2019 will be even more busy, so stay in touch and I look forward to seeing you all this new year.