Our mentors worked with local groups to help spread the uptake of digital skills beyond our MPs and their teams. The following examples show what’s possible.
Jonny Bottomley explored how better use of social media can help councillors and other party members in their campaigning:
The constituency office in North Norfolk is a hub of Lib Dem political activity for the region. There is a constant flow of constituents, councillors and party members coming through the office.
I spoke with Pierre Butikofer, a Lib Dem candidate for the district council seat of Astley Ward, about his online presence and whether he was using social media in his campaign. He told me he used Facebook personally and had used it for a previous campaign, but he wasn’t sure if he was using it correctly. I helped Pierre set up a campaign page (Pierre4Astley) and contributed content, photos and tags.
In the lead up to polling day, Pierre spent £38 Facebook advertising to reach 1,665 ward residents, increasing his exposure and name recognition. Pierre won the seat and is now using Facebook to keep his residents updated.
Jono Ellis advised the secretariat for an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on how digital technology can be used to help improve how they worked together:
I advised the secretariat for the Fair Business Banking APPG on how they could best use digital tools to work together.
APPGs are cross-party groups who come together with a shared interest, in this case the group is dealing with banking contract laws and issues surrounding bankruptcy and “bully banks”.
The secretariat’s role is to organise the work of MPs, industry experts and interested organisations and charities. By their nature, APPGs are not all working from the same office and won’t have an existing suite of collaboration tools.
I recommended having a single document repository - Google Drive or OneDrive - shared by the team and outside organisations so that they could work on documents collaboratively rather than by email. This also allows the team membership to evolve over time without losing valuable knowledge.
To help with work planning and coordination I suggested daily or weekly “standups” via Skype/Google Hangout calls and using Trello to tie together all of the steps that need to be taken to achieve some their long-term goals. I helped show the value of some freely available tools and hope that these tools help raise the potential of the group in achieving their goals.
Leah Bae looked at how coding skills could help constituents as well as the MP’s team:
I taught Yvette Cooper MP’s team the basics of HTML and CSS coding so that they have the skills to edit and build basic web pages to enhance Yvette’s website, saving time and money, and allowing them to do more with what they have.
Now every Wednesday afternoon at 4pm, the constituency office staff get together to learn lessons on Codecademy.
Learning to code has led to a wider conversation about digital skills in the constituency. Digital skills are not prevalent in the area - 15.2% of adults in the local Wakefield area have never been online. The office staff are now in conversation with code learning organisations to explore running an all-ages code club.
This is an opportunity for the MP to champion digital skills locally to help constituents show the benefits of developing their digital skills and potential.