by Andrew Collins | 13th Dec 2023
This blog is a case study from our DigiCymru service, which offers free, short, 1-to-1 support to third-sector organisations in Wales. The Venture is just one organisation that has contacted the service to ask for advice and help to find solutions to their problem.
What is The Venture?
The Venture was started in 1978 when local young people helped build an adventure playground on a semi-official rubbish tip. It has grown over the years to become one of the UK’s leading children, young people, and family local organisations.
The Venture is based in Caia Park in Wrexham, the largest council housing estate in Wales, which has the highest levels of child poverty in Wales, according to the End Child Poverty Campaign.
What problem did The Venture face?
The Venture is an open playground where young people come and go as they please after school and on weekends. The play area is manned by several staff members, who sign in young people as they arrive and sign them out as they leave.
At the moment, that process is all done via pen and paper. This created significant problems for the organisation, especially regarding reporting, maintaining a user database, and keeping track of their data.
At the end of each reporting block, one staff member had to take home all the paper copy registers from the last six months. This meant they had to manually add around 150 registers and enter them into a spreadsheet. This was a laborious process but also came with significant data security risks and the possibility of misplacing or damaging the registers and losing the data.
In addition to the paper registers, which monitored daily attendance, they had a different one-off sign-up form, completed whenever a new young person attended. This listed all the important information about the young person, such as allergies, additional needs, emergency contact info, etc. The issue is that these forms were kept in a locked cupboard inside the building. If there was an emergency, a staff member had to leave the playground to go to the office, find the key, and go through all the membership forms to find the emergency contact details.
Lack of data
As these records were all kept on paper, they were not linked. As such, extracting data about who was attending the playground was difficult. For example, they couldn’t easily determine where most users came from, how old they were, who attended often and infrequently, etc. This meant it was difficult to make decisions based on data that was readily available to them.
The Venture wanted to know if there were any digital tools that could improve this process.
Finding a digital solution
The Venture met with Andrew Collins, ProMo Cymru’s Senior Digital Manager, to discuss what digital tools could provide a solution.
Plinth, formerly TimeToSpare, is a Community Impact Platform that connects data from different organisations to help community programmes deliver and understand the impact.
Plinth acts like a digital register, allowing you to create a database of all your service users, including custom details such as allergies, addresses and emergency contact numbers.
Once set up, you can quickly and easily check users in and out of the venue, with Plinth keeping a record of attendance.
You can also create reports in just a matter of clicks, giving more significant insights into your users. This could be used to find geographical hotspots, the busiest time of day, or even the average number of daily users.
These tools make reporting to funders easier, giving greater insight into the number of people supported, which helps demonstrate the service’s impact.
As Plinth can be used on a smartphone or tablet, all the information that staff need is at their fingertips, meaning they can quickly check user details, such as allergies or emergency contact information, without having to go to the office.
Plinth is free for community organisations, which makes it an excellent option for third-sector organisations.
After three sessions meeting with us as part of our free DigiCymru service, The Venture has begun trialling Plinth with staff to see whether it could replace their current paper system.
As with any new tool, there is a period of change where staff are asked to learn new things and do things differently. Organisational change can be tricky, but if the tool is easy to use and solves problems, it makes the transition smoother for staff.
This case study is funded through Third Sector Digital Support, a National Lottery Community Fund project to support the Welsh Third Sector with digital. To find out more about how this project can support your organisation, click the link or contact email@example.com