Finalist category: Connected Society Award
Connected Society Award, Finalist, 2019
London Village Network (LVN) is a high impact, grassroots charity that seeks to improve social inclusion among disadvantaged 16-24 year olds.
Their mission is to tackle what LVN Founder, Rachael Box, coins “network poverty” – believing that a young person’s progression and employability is heavily dependent on having access to positive networks. The organisation offers a mechanism that puts young people in control, enabling them to access networks enjoyed by the more privileged and improve their social mobility.
Central to LVN’s delivery is the Community Cohesion App. Inundated by growing demand from young people seeking support and adults wanting to give time, the founder needed a cost-effective, time-efficient way to capture, record and safeguard both data and users (young people and volunteers alike). The LVN app was born – a ‘volunteer management app’ that made it easy for adults, youth workers and young people to register. It also combines a one-stop youth services signposting function that provides young people and youth workers mobile access to available opportunities.
London Village Network is a grassroots charity. Every step has involved the community, and over 200 young people have been involved in the development of the app. It is currently London-based, with the full programme available across nine youth provisions in Islington. The app signposting listings are focused around a further nine London Boroughs but there is no geographic limit set to the youth services, training and employment opportunities featured. LVN’s model and Power of the Hour programmes have been devised to be scaled nationally in both urban and rural environments.
The app is an invaluable tool for any statutory/third sector groups providing support to young people. Their work has identified that frontline youth workers are under pressure and some lack capacity to access the wealth of information and resources available. The app is an enabler for this. The LVN app also makes it easier for adults in the community to volunteer – with over 500 having volunteered an hour. It works closely with local and national businesses, and the signposting function makes it easy for young people to discover youth opportunities local to them.
The app is developed and in use – available on Google Play and the App Store. Goggle Director, Catherine Ruggles, and a team of volunteer coders are further developing the app including implementing a data extraction and analysis system to enable them to monitor and track progression of young people through their personal development journey
The LVN model is designed to be scalable nationally and their five year plan includes expansion beyond London. Further development of the app is central to its growth and will enable LVN to build limitless capacity. There are a range of exciting new additions to the app in development, including digitising:
- A loyalty system (complete with referral codes) to encourage youth registration
- Personal development plans to allow LVN to monitor and report on a young person’s progression
- Enhanced reference code functionality
- Volunteer, youth worker and young person feedback mechanisms
- Automated email generation
Look forward, the LVN team plan to continue to:
- Offer an easy way in to volunteering for adults wanting to give time but looking for a quick and simple way to do so
- Provide a user-friendly, unintimidating registration system designed for young people with young people *(even those suffering from poor literacy levels)
- Be a free platform to promote and join up local youth services providers