Our Community Impact Award celebrates organisations or initiatives that are using technology to have positive social impacts in communities. It could be any project that improves social inclusion for a group of people – improving skills through app based learning or workshops, helping them to be less lonely, or addressing financial or health barriers, the list is endless. As the Tech4Good awards open for nominations, we wanted to highlight some past winners of the award. 

A previous Community Impact award winner is Beam, which is a business that crowdfunds employment training for homeless people. Its innovative approach uses digital technology to remove financial barriers for the homeless community and allows them to improve their skills to get into well-paid work. Bringing together the public sector and the best of tech, Beam is partnered with the Mayor of London while being advised by tech luminaries.

There are 320,000 homeless people in the UK and this has risen by 60% since 2011. Most of these people are in hostels, with numerous financial barriers that stop them from getting into well-paid work – for example, the costs of training, equipment and childcare. 

Each person on Beam is referred by an established homeless charity or their local council. Then once they have been referred, they are then given  a dedicated support specialist, who supports them all the way into their new career. The support specialists first conduct basic security checks to make sure the referred person is mentally and physically ready to enter full-time employment. After that they help each person develop a tailored career plan, building on their unique strengths and interests.

Once a campaign is live, members of the public can start funding them and are updated throughout with the progress of the people they are supporting. Beam also gives donors personalised data on their own impact, showing how many people they’ve funded, have completed their training and started their new careers.

The largest homeless community in the UK is single mums and kids. Beam’s flexible model not only funds training but all other costs that stand in the way of someone and their professional ambitions. Practically, this often means childcare, which opens the door for new professional opportunities for thousands of disadvantaged homeless single mums. Beam has been carefully co-designed with its users, including homeless people and homeless charities. This has led to the development of a private part of the website for the homeless people to use to get updates and communicate with other Beam users. The use of crowdfunding is an innovative, tech-driven way to tap into new resources that governments or charities may not have had access to previously. 

Another previous award winner is Mind Of My Own (MOMO), which are apps that help vulnerable children and young people communicate. The MOMO One app gathers and communicates the authentic views of children and young people who use health, social care and education services while MOMO Express caters specifically for young children and those with a learning disability. A couple case studies of the app can be found below:

“We had a very strong reason to believe that Scarlet was being sexually exploited. She denied this was happening for sometime. She was ashamed to tell us face to face but she was able to do this through MOMO.  Scarlet expressed she felt hopelessness. “I don’t care, nobody cares for me,  I feel lonely, everybody knows about me”. She said she felt ashamed and that’s why she couldn’t go back to school. She told us all of this on the app. We would not have been able to act as quickly without it. We were able to get her out of this dangerous situation”

“Paige, a ten year old girl I work with, saw her brother being smacked by the foster carer. She wrote 25 lines in MOMO about what her life looks like and said “I’m not sure what I want to do”. Paige recorded her mood as ‘calm and unhappy’. Paige’s disclosure has led to action and it will be used in court.  Her own words and her own thoughts are so important. As social workers we were not aware of her situation.  MOMO really gave her a voice and helped her to be safe.”

The app enables young people to share their feelings and communicate difficult subjects and views to professionals including social workers, teachers and carers. The app enables young people to be heard in a non evasive and confidential way.

To enter the award, please visit here. This Award is open to any individual, business, charity, social enterprise or other public body with a base in the UK. It may refer to the work they do as a whole or one specific project.