Community Business Patchwork and Power to Change session


This session was all about what is community tech and the first slide said: Join us to explore opportunities surrounding community technology, and consider how communities can be strengthened and liberated by creating and owning own technical solutions.

The first person to speak was Rachel Caldicutt who was from Promising Trouble, Careful Industries and her contact details are @rachelcaldicutt and @carefultrouble on Twitter
Although you can build a community on Facebook, its not Facebook or a one size fits all corporate technologies

Technology made by a community organisation for:
Itself, reuse by others and as infrastructure
There’s different types of community technology including logistics, publishing, fundraising, membership, inventory and broadcasting.
They are very different organisations that are united by their commitment to the community

Scale looks different for community organisations whereas a commercial landlord might run a lot of pubs, and look for replicable things

A community pub may also be a foodbank, library, playgroup and a thousand other things
Community power not corporate power

She had also been talking to Chris Adams from the Green Web foundation and he quoted a space to build digital services with different values embedded.

Local scale technology that holds a space between the market and the state
It is understandable at human scale, better for the planet
Available by everyone, ethical not just efficient

The 2nd speaker was Sally Lowndes from Onion collective and free ice cream and their website is and the understory community
Evolution of Onion collective
Evolution from PBSA pilot in Watchet
Challenges of manual process
Adaption to overcome them through tech
Reinforced by the pandemic
Innovate UK funding for phase 2
Lottery funding in place for Phase 3
She then told us the website they use for Watchet and it is https://understory.communityvisualiser/watchet-19-11-20
Understory is a mapping tool online which enables communities to reveal connections that are hidden that bring them together. The community comes together in one workshop, to create a network map, and by the end they are able to explore the relationshps between people and businesses that build resilience.

The tools on Understory allows communities to explore interdependencies between sectors; the community’s goals and how these change over time; the organisations that are collaborating effectively and those that are working in silos.

It is for anyone who cares about people, thrives on connections and desires a collective approach to change.

She said that they asked questions which was then transformed into a map by clicking on tour and that shows you the range of people which is reflected in certain colours.

An example was who are important in your organisation?
Green  organisations

Who in the community is important?
Bridging social capital

What outcomes are you working towards?
Shown in yellow

Who outside the community have power to make decisions?

Benefits for communities
Develop community and social capital through process itself
Helps a community to better understand itself
Connectors, how sectors interplay
Explores strength of communities networks and how power flows into and through its space
Supports a place to stretch outcomes over time
Highlight potential pathways to collab
Supports evolution rather than monitoring approach to evaluation
generates questions and curiosity within communities
The 2 email addresses they have are:
[email protected]
[email protected]

The 3rd speaker was called Emily Berwyn from Meanwhile space and she was talking about Observer Building Hastings, Creative Digital Hub
She showed us a slide on Ecosystem organisations and Digital peer-peer sharing/opensource philosophy. The organisations are the tools that they use to achieve shared vision.
She then showed us a slide on Hastings Commons: Spaces/ownership/progress.
The Observer Building Hastings Building has £717,000 allocated as part of Hasting Tower Deal fund for Ground floor.
Team currently developing business case in partnership with Hastings Borough Council
Project expected to commence delivery subject to approval Summer 2022
Working with the phased organic development model proven to work at Rock House.
Including meanwhile uses to test activities, refine business model and build networks.

Why Digital?
Digital is new bridge to and between inspirational employment and entreprenurial opportunities , everyday life management and enriching entertainment experiences.
Sector can create quality employment opps in Hastings in desirable jobs.
Can form a new tourist attraction to town and leisure experience for local people.
Can support community to upskill and have same access to opps and financial benefits that digital access unlocks.
Situating this in a physicla space at the heart of Observer Building anfd Hastings Commons will bring people together to work and socialise and catalyse the regeneration of the area.

What is a Digital Hub?
People sviews vary widely – cold be workspace for businesses who work digitally, Virtual reality lounge, makerspace, hackspace, gaming, bank of computers for community access.
Engage and understand
Aspiration and inspiration
Visibility and business case

Vision – Provide inspiration for tech and digital businesses, attracting to town, through provision of equipment and infrastructure, creating valuable asset and facility for the town
working from the bottom up will source young people with talent and enthusiasm to engage, deliver and grow the offer into an inspirational environment.

supoort from industry leaders in way of sponsorship, mentoring and training. This will provide learning and delevelopment of skills as well a sroutes into employment within the sector.
She then talked about Stakeholder engagement, then graphs on certain things like lesire, community and what the need for them is.

Then a couple of websites where all the slides will be and another business who were on the call called

The 4th speaker was Julia Darby from Community Care Connect CIC

Market failure in North East Dartmoor in 2015
No regulator providers the local authority could provide care for.
NEED for regulated home care agency for NED – North East Dartmoor.
Immediate need for care at home

She then explained some pros and cons of certain things, which I’ll explain once I find the slides again.
Such as Development options e.g. new build , external contractor, new build, in house and retro-fit and sub licence existing platform.

What does Community Tech mean for us?
Care connect is created by Community Organisation for reuse by others
Created by a community organisation as infrastructure to support broader community of practice
An infrastructure or umbrella body supporting communityowned organisations that are running Introduction services.

There was still time for one more speaker called Melissa Mean who was talking about Knowle West Media Centre which is a Digital Arts Centre.
“People making fair and thriving neighbourhoods with love, tech and art”.
They are based in Norwest in Bristol. 5000 homes and 15,000 people
80% of what we need, remix them with 20% of something new.
Jim let her plug smoke machine into his shed.

She showed us a slide on University of Local Knowledge who learn all kinds of things.
She showed us a slide that showed that construction was the 2nd bottom above hunting with a picture of a big factories.

System Agnostic Factory: digital platforms
4 different commercial systems
Community pavillion, silent disco
Community led homes
She then showed us a community Tech Wish List for them

There was a Q And A section


Then after lunch, there was another session called No-Code for business
This session was run by Tom Watson

twitter: @tom_c_watson
medium: @tomcampbellwatson
good data site:
Open Makers Community: Open Makers Community

What is no-code?
No-code development platform allow programmers and non-programmers to creat application software through graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional computer programming.
What is it used for?
He showed a database table, showing what it can be used for.

How can no-code help?
 Allow you to create and test ideas quickly and cheaply
 To save time on manual tasks
 Learn by doing
 Build in stages

Some examples he works with people with can be:
Building a marketplace
Internal documentation and website

You can join the Open Makers community for monthly 1 hour sessions on specific no-code uses or tools and quarterly live build sessions.

A list of tools used in demos:
Airtable – for both the invoicing demo and the marketplace live build
Zapier – For the invoicing demo
Notion – For the organisational Handbook
Simple Scraper – For scraping data from a website
Softr- For the front end website for the marketplace live build

There was then a presentation by Simon Borkin on a tool for societies to manage community shares register called AirRegister.

The problem
Over 500 businesses have issued community shares totalling over £150million to over 100,000 people in the UK
Many of these organisations have hundreds of members with respective investments in their organisation, which they have to manage via a register on an ongoing basis in line with the terms and conditions that they set out in their share offers – from crediting interest to managing withdrawals.
However to date, there has been a lack of dedicated online tools to help societies manage their registry.
To address this issue, Co-operatives UK has supported a group of leading community shares practitioners to
develop an open tool that can be used by societies of any size
AirRegister is the result of three experienced practitioners in the community shares space coming together to try and help societies better manage their share registers

He worked at Co-ops for 8 years, establishing and leading Community Shares Unit and the Community Shares Booster Programme and hes board memeber of Friends and Stretford Public Hall and has experienced the difficulties of managing over 800 investors in society.
he worked with Dave Boyle (Community Shares Company) and Patrick Morello (Third Sector Accountancy) to begin to develop the tool.
We were joined by a leading Airtable Developer (Jonathan Bowen, Dragon Drop) to provide some specific technical input for AirRegister.

What it does
AirRegister offers a number of features to help societies manage their share register themselves and communicate with their members effectively. The tool allows societies to:
Capture and maintain key share register information such as member details, share offer terms & conditions and investment data
Implement financial processes such as interest payments and withdrawals accurately with minimal administration
Create key reports for the purposes of wider financial and governance reporting
Automate emails, forms and statements to communicate with investors effectively

Why they chose no-code/airtable
Relational – At its heart, Airtable is a relational database which allows for the necessary structuring and linking of data that makes it more appropriate for aregister than a spreadsheet.
Customisable / flexible – Airtable allows relatively novice users the ability to customise their database intuitively, allowing societies to customise their share register for their own purposes.
Powerful – the platform is incredibly powerful in terms of adding functionality such as reports, automations, scripting, and integrations.
Affordable – the free plan is likely to work for most societies and their 50% nonprofit discount is available if societies wanted to opt for more extensive plans.
Shareable – Airtable allows creators to publish their Airtable databases for wider use and sharing. This feature has allow us to share the underlying share register database for societies to utilise, at no cost

[email protected]
Find out more
Access AirRegister v1.1

The final presentation was on carefree on NoCode
What – we transform vacant hotel rooms into vital breaks for full time and unpaid carers
How- We build partnerships across the business and social sectors and leverage easy to use, flexible technology to allow more carers to be supported by more organisations to have more short breaks.

Why- Unpaid carers fuel half the resources needed for our Health and Social Care
system to operate. If they fall, it falls.
Enabling people and organisations to share their resources to support families looking after their loved ones is the only way to ensure Long Welfare in this country.

Carefree’s tech strategy

Driving factors
Budget – they needed to maximise the value of £40-60k budget (less
than a single developers salary).

As a charity, seeking to best meet the needs of our beneficiaries they believe that their strength lies in great service design (not Jira tasks)
The range of functionality weneeded to create was vast but also
not that unique – we didn’t need to build new things ourselves.

Technical considerations:
Empower Carefree’s non-technical product team to drive product development and growth, reducing dependency on engineering resources.
Automate leads, marketing, and customer support processes to achieve personalised
communications at scale within observed user journeys.
Rapid testing and proof-of-concept development on tools under consideration to quickly eliminate and surface best candidates to support end-to end Carefree processes.

Select tools that facilitate integration with othersystems, as well as offer existing libraries of plugins, ensuring long-term viability.
End result
Converted our tech architecture from 90% to 10% custom code

Partnerships with tech companies that can provide ‘innovation’ where needed.
E.g. Impala’s global distribution API for live inventory release and SumSub for digital identity verification- but could easily swap to other providers if needed.
25 no-code tools delivering differentaspects of our platform

£36k spent last year, forecast for £60k this year because of the increasing no.of staff driving user license costs / other investments in new product features
She then showed a graph showing how customers get support
Next, a graph on how the platform works
Then a photo of the architecture

Tips and tricks

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