Community action in Monmouthshire

Reflections on the first year of Monmouthshire Made Open.

Archive for December, 2015

Community action in Monmouthshire

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It has been over a year since Monmouthshire Made Open was launched. During this time, we have been learning about how our digital platform fits into the wider Monmouthshire Council community engagement processes and working with staff to develop new features that meet their needs. So what has changed and how has it helped residents to get active across the county?

Activity on Monmouthshire Made Open

We’ve had a look through the website and picked out some of our favourite activities that have popped up on the site over the last year:

Winter Warriors:

WinterwarriorsThe UK has already been battered by Abigail, Barney, Clodagh & Desmond this winter, and with more bad weather due this project looks to recruit local volunteers to help others in isolated communities if snow falls this winter. Winter warriors pick up your shovels!


Digital inclusion

digital_inclusionMonmouthshire Voices is a project run in Monmouthshire to empower people with disabilities and older people to have their say on the delivery of local services. They have started a discussion on Monmouthshire Made Open around digital inclusion with some great ideas already.


Community food plots

community_foodA lovely community garden project that has turned a old piece of unloved, overgrown land into a ‘pollinator’s paradise’ for the whole community to use. The owners are asking for volunteers to help maintain and use this plot and have already reached their volunteering targets.


Micro volunteering day

volunteeringBefore this question came up from a member of the public, we had never heard the term ‘micro volunteering’. According to the question micro volunteering can be described as “easy, no commitment actions that benefit worthy causes that can be completed generally in under 30 minutes”. Sounds great doesn’t it? Not only did the question teach us something new it also received some really interesting ideas.


Learn It, Cook it, Live it

community_kitchenOne of our favourite examples of a project from across all of the platforms, this project was looking for volunteers and equipment to develop a community kitchen in Abergavenny, and teach young people and adults cooking skills to help them gain qualifications.

These are just a handful of the great activity that has been happening on Made Open Monmouthshire over the last year, there are are a lot more interesting projects to support or discussions to be had.


New features:

Since launch we’ve been busy working on a whole host of features to improve the platform. Here’s a quick look at the features we’ve added to Monmouthshire Made Open over the last year:

  • Groups:
    Monmouthshire users can now create groups. Groups are spaces for people with a shared interest to come together and discuss ideas in a private space. Groups also means users can share ideas and start projects that only group members can get involved with.
  • Events:
    Users can now create events, inviting people to join, managing attendees and, through integration with Eventbrite, allow users to book places upfront and even pay for ticketed events.
  • Polls:
    Community questions allow users to discuss ideas and share thoughts but sometimes you just want to canvas an opinion in a way that can be quantified. Polls is a new feature that enables user to poll other members on anything from number of hours they spend sitting during the day to how child friendly they think a city is.
  • Tasks:
    The latest addition to the Made Open feature list is the ability to project manage your team by assigning and monitoring tasks. Now when that amazing community project gets the support needed users can use task to help them manage volunteers.


The future:

So what does the future hold for Monmouthshire Made Open? Together, we’ll be pushing forward with the development of the platform next year, improving usability and building new, more powerful features for the site. The important thing now is to encourage more people to use the platform. Monmouthshire are in many respects already ahead of the curve in starting to use Made Open as a way to empower their citizens.

In a recent blog, Fast Company reference the 10 big trends of 2016 as outlined by Global Design Firm JFord. No. 6 on the list is “Governments will embrace digital technologies to improve how they serve the public“. We believe Made Open can be an important digital technology for community development. What needs to happen now is to further integrate Made Open into the Council’s processes (something we are working on), reach out to the public and build trust in Made Open as a platform that enables people to create real change in their communities.

If our second year together follows a similar pace of growth, we will be well on our way to achieving that end goal.

New look website for Connecting Bristol

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Over the last few months we’ve been working closely with Bristol City Council’s City Innovation Team to refresh the Connecting Bristol website; a site we originally built back in 2009.

Connecting Bristol is a technology blog that shares news and information about the latest smart and digital technologies (and opportunities) in Bristol.

Following a soft launch last week, we’re happy to be able to share and talk about this lovely project. You can read more about the design features in detail on our case study but here’s a short summary of the project:


Key features:

  • Fully responsive design, with beautiful layouts across all device sizes.
  • Simplified navigation with custom blog types for making the most of multimedia content including data mapping.
  • Custom WordPress site giving the Innovation Team full control over their content.
  • Brand refresh with graphics used across a range of media.


Bristol’s Innovation Team do an amazing job of co-ordinating a whole host of exciting content from interesting data insights to fascinating events and much more, so if you haven’t already please do have a look at

Made Open is on G-Cloud 7

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We are pleased to announce that Made Open has been accepted as a supplier for the Government’s G-Cloud 7 Digital Marketplace. The G-Cloud framework is a pre-approved list of suppliers that offers cloud and other digital services to public sector organisations via an online portal, The Digital Marketplace.

UK Government organisations including central government, local government, health and education administration, defence services, non for profit’s and emergency services will find it quicker and easier to access Made Open via this portal. Here they can buy a licence to our award-winning cloud based platform, which enables groups of people to share issues, make connections, develop ideas, crowdsource resources and manage volunteers and community events.

Made Open is for leaders of community change. Providing an action based digital platform to create stronger collaborative working relationships with citizens, staff and community organisations.

“We are delighted to become an approved G-Cloud supplier for the second year running”. The digital marketplace offers Made Open an excellent opportunity to build on the work that we are already doing with local government in the UK, where we have proven how our cloud based software service can support communities to change,” says Kathryn Woolf, co-founder of Made Open.

More details about the service and how to purchase can be found here: the digital marketplace

Hub Hub Hooray!

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The judges were impressed by our Made Open platform, which helps people collaborate and take action for change in their community.

During the last 12 months, Made Open has generated 1000’s of ideas and has enabled a variety of community projects to start; from helping a homeless charity crowdsource thermal underwear, to crowdfunding a shipment of prosthetic legs for people in Africa. Most recently, a charity in Bristol received 100% of their pledge target for donations of musical instruments to help them set up a music studio for disadvantaged children – the valuation of these instruments was estimated at £10,000.

With new collaboration features added, such as the ability to set tasks and manage groups, we are now generating revenues through licensing the software to local authorities and governing organisations worldwide who wish to establish stronger collaborative working relationships with communities.

Read more here