Within the Government and third sector the in lingo is around smart cities, civic tech and open data but what does that mean to the people they support?
We are the people that can bridge the gap and enables communities to have a worthwhile say in the conversation.
New Union is a not for profit civic innovation who uses this way of think and then mixes it with creative digital design and community development to create truly groundbreaking projects that put the citizens at the heart of the agenda, giving them the power to shape policy in their region.
We have a unique ethos that is bred from a mix of radical thinking, passion, experience of working in civic systems design across the globe for a host of international Governments, expert knowledge and above above all a passion for rethinking how Government interacts with the people that they serve.
Our work has taken us from Dudley, Berlin, Valletta to Kampala and we have plans that can suit the smallest Local Authority to a national institution, it all starts and ends with the same mentality.
Project architecture & community development:
We specialise in full product design from the initial idea, branding, concept, delivery and then evaluation.
Projects we have designed from scratch in the past have involved participative community project surrounding digital policy for Sandwell Council, open data for neighbourhood planners with the UK Government, smart city mapping with Dudley Council to even a digital toolkit aimed at young people discussing human trafficking with partners in Uganda.We are the people that can bridge the gap and enables communities to have a worthwhile say in the conversation.
Our projects are usually the full package ranging from digital design such as websites, workshops, writing strategic documentation, community engagement to volunteer coordination and recruitment.
These have been used to influence policy or strategic direction, important community consultation via participative means and meeting tactical aims of the Council.
We like to put ourselves out of a job by building projects that are sustainable and will continue without us by working closely with staff, offering training and preparing supporting documents. Why? Well, it’s a measure of our success if something works without us.
Physical community consultation:
We’ve ran workshops, conferences and events for a range of partners looking to gather intelligence for strategic, funding applications and policy from the community they support and third sector in their area.
Our events are ran in a participatory manner, meaning we heavily involve the participants in the day and gather their input via a range of activities which then then package up and deliver as a report. We understand community consultation is not just ticking boxes or to showcase you have engaged citizens if challenged, it’s about how you can sustainability improve your region by ensuring you are meeting the needs of the people who live there by talking to them.
We’ve ran community consultation events on everything from understanding open data, young people and democracy, influencing the decision makers in the West Midlands Police to digital healthcare.
We are approached to run workshops a lot but we always like to offer something a little different and package them up into toolkits or mini projects which our partners can use for future work.
Digital engagement and campaigning:
From running social media campaigns to gathering evidence online for research, we’ve done it all.
We understand how social media work for the community sector and we have had some highly impressive hit rates. If you want to run rich campaigns in the Government and third sector you will need to think like both a social activist and marketing guru, that means having the ability to create rich content.
For example, we have held a raft a successful social media campaigns but let’s pick out last years #WMelects17 that put young issues as part of the conversation in the inaugural West Midlands Combined Authority Mayoral election.
To develop creative content we recruited a team of young volunteers to interview all of the candidates which we edited into videos to be shared on social media followed by a series of guest blogs for The Huffington Post and local newspaper Express & Staff along with a dedicated show on Black Country Radio. The engagement rate was incredibly high with people sharing their poll station selfies and the hashtag was also picked up by ITV News, Birmingham Mail and more which led us to a social media reach of over 2 million and an impression rate of over 3 million, that is a total engagement rate of 6,435,018.
It’s better to show you what we have done, instead of talking about what we can do.
Training program design:
We’ve designed a range of training platforms from open education that is free to use for all, entry level digital training for small community groups to staff training around a host from subjects from open data to digital outreach.
These can range from developing toolkits and guides for a peer to peer learning experiences to actually facilitating workshops.
We’ve got rates especially for small charities, third sector and community groups. We do not develop digital platforms for large organisations such as Government unless it’s part of a wider project which means we can support the people who really need it.
The same goes for our branding support, we only offer this service to small organisations and a lot of the time we do not even charge depending on the social issue - we have helped a lot international based charities with design and we are always happy to offer support.
If you need support to gather research for funding or reporting purposes there is a number of ways we can support, from holding community engagement sessions and then collating the evidence presented in a report to forming documentation provided by the client.
We are always happy to help with finding funding sources and assisting with writing tenders, we access every situation on the social impact and reasoning behind the bid, so it’s a service we usually offer for free.
This is actually something we do a lot of such as a collecting feedback for the NHS in a series of YouTube videos to helping young people interact with democracy to even running and designing Vox Pop & vlogging projects for Dudley Council and local advocacies - we have a range of gear participants can use.
From arranging, branding it, planning, recruitment to collating all the evidence of the day in a presentable way of choosing. We’ve ran or planned hacks in England, Germany, Cameroon to Uganda ranging from general code hacks to rapid prototyping projects to even policy formation.