A tool that supports volunteers to make a difference in their neighbourhood.
Beginning in 2011, the volunteer organisers of the tenants and residents association on the Bradley estate in Huddersfield have been using Thumbprint to keep local people up to date on what's happening in the area. a council mental health service
Mandy Boatswain-Tomkin, who set up Thumbprint for the TRA, explains: “We send out news about everything from free home security advice to children's events. But if we waited to put that in a printed newsletter, lots of it would already be out of date, so local people would miss out.”
One of the best features is that last minute reminders. “If there is something going on in the evening,” Mandy adds, they use Thumbprint to "send out a quick text in the afternoon to remind people. We know the message will get through because people always check their texts. Nothing else works so well. In addition each wave of texting to Bradley people results in an immediate peak in visits to the local community blog.”
This is an example of one of the guaranteed positive results of using Thumbprint, that more people come to events and so they are better value for money.
Mandeep Hothi of Nesta, who has studied the use of digital technology to help local communities across the country, says: “Bradley TRA have got it spot on. They are using simple technology that everyone understands to make sure local residents get useful information fast. This could work anywhere in the country.”
“I would definitely recommend it to other TRAs.” says Mandy. “It's a way of getting information out into the community. And what it is hoped, even if we don't reach everybody, if the ones we do reach are telling two people, it is going to make a difference.”
The practice of forwarding information to friends and family was confirmed in phone interviews with people who tried out a similar initiative called Birkby News.