Digital Local Heroes

What’s the 100 word summary?

Our goal is ‘Older citizens can continue to contribute to society independently’.

We’ll provide the space, training, and expertise for a ten week course in Wikiedia editing for Clarion residents. Groups of ‘digital volenteers’ will work together to improve the Wikipedia’s coverage of local heritage sites.

These skills that residents learn will also help them with everyday internet use. Moreover, we provide them in as ‘peers having a conversation about the internet while volenteering’ rather than ‘patronising class for old people who don’t know anything’.

What’s your Goal?

Our goal is ‘Older citizens can continue to contribute to society independently’. We’re going to achieve this by teaching them to contribute to Wikipedia, and in the process, dramatically upscale their digital skills while giving them ownership of local digital resources.

What’s are you physically going to do?

We’ll provide the space, training, and expertise for groups of people to work together to improve the coverage of their local heritage sites on Wikimedia projects.  Their training will includes taking and uploading photos, drafting articles, producing sources, and all the skills that enable groups to make this difference to their local community. By an amazing co-incidence, these are also the skills that help people critically evaluate and navigate malicious websites, find high-quality information on the internet, and avoid making the digital mistakes that can isolate them.

What’s in it for Wikipedia?

For UK residents looking for historical information, Wikipedia is invariably the go-to resource. The English Wikipedia alone has over 2.6 billion words, covering 4.4 million articles.  There are many examples of extremely rich, detailed, beautifully illustrated historical articles.

Unfortunately, Wikipedia also suffers from a systemic bias of editors. The average Wikipedian on the English Wikipedia is male, technically inclined, formally educated, aged 15–35, and likely employed as a white-collar worker or enrolled as a student rather than employed as a blue-collar worker.

This has the result that articles of local heritage are massively underdeveloped or missing.  Worse, the very people who are most passionate about local heritage are often inhibited by a lack of familiarity of technology, or inexperience with Wikipedia’s approaches.

How are you going to make sure it’s sustainable?

Once users have been trained and have gained some experience in the use of Wikipedia, they will be much more comfortable contributing outside of the project, making this an extremely sustainable approach. Given that all Wikipedia contributions and page histories are public - we’ll be able to gather extremely detailed evidence on the long-term effectiveness of the project.

Do you have a theory of change?

Our theory of change can be download here, and has been reproduced below:

Please provide a brief description of the overall mission and aims of your organisation, and why you are well placed to carry out this work.

eQuality Time’s mission is to employ original critical thinking to solve problems of inclusion and equality through the use of technology and education. In practice this means we have ideas for projects, we apply for funding to prototype or scale them up, and then we work to make them self-funding.

What are the main activities that your organisation undertake? (maximum 300 words)

Our flagship projects are White Water Writers, a young adult fiction publisher that has ensured over 2,000 children have held in their hands a book they have written, and Open Voice Factory, an open source software project for people with communication disabilities. Both these projects started with seed funding for a pilot and then became self sustaining.

What is the geographical spread of your work?

Like this project we are based in Luton, but we work nationally and internationally: the Open Voice Factory just got a Russian translation and White Water Writers camps have taken place in Japan, Amsterdam and Ghana.

Relevant partnerships

We maintain extremely strong links with several universities, and our interventions tend to attract a high level of research interest. See for example: and

Please describe who will benefit from your project and details of how they are digitally excluded

From “In 2018, Age UK reported that 36% (4.2 million) of people age 65+ are offline, lapsed or have never used the internet.

But digital inclusion is not just about whether we are online. We know from the ONS that, before the pandemic, people over the age of 65 who were online, were still much less likely (48%) to do their shopping online compared to the national average (78%), look for health information (30% vs 54%) or access online banking (35% vs 69%).”

This project targets Clarion residents of age 55+, and we shall improve their skills and confidence in online work, and improve the social networks. We’ll do both of these things while they are meaningfully contributing to their local area.

The people who will benefit the most:

Please detail what steps you will take to engage Clarion residents and ensure their participation in your project. For example:

We’ve never worked with Clarion before, and plan to work closely with the Clarion Futures Digital Team on this.

Our plans for engagement are extremely traditional and paper-based. We’ve planned for leaflets, posters, and articles/adverts in the local paper. We’ll also be contacting local resident networks.

For branding: we’ll be presenting the project as `digital volenteering’ with terms like:

Please describe the evidence for the need for your proposed project

Have you undertaken any surveys or had feedback from current users or local residents? Have you identified a gap in existing provision or is it because there is nothing else delivered in the local area? Has your project been set up in response to local demand? Is there any relevant research or anecdotal evidence behind the design of your project?

This project’s theroy of change is at It shows our underlying assumptions.

We validated our assumptions with a review of the academic research. We supplemented that with the (better) work done by charities or Wikipedia itself.

Some accessible sources are:

We’ve not validated our assumptions locally - either by survey or interviews. We’d be happy to accept a system where the bulk of the grant was made availible after interviews were conducted.

(250 words max)

Please describe the tasks and activities involved in delivering your project

We’re running two sessions a week for a ten week course, with the aim of a club running sustainably from them. The sessions will be lead by a Wikipedia administrator, who we will hire using existing contacts. (we have experienced Wikipedians on staff in case of absense). We expect between 30 and 40 participants

We are carefully scouting a venue. The venue needs to be local to the residents, have a functioning PC room, and be of the right size that it could become the hub of a sustainable club. It also needs to be availible during daytime. Local Libraries and schools are the obvious candidates, although some other charities have suitable facilities. We have budgeted based on quotes from local office hire as a worst case.

Please provide a list of the topics that will be covered in your training sessions

A summary of your course curriculum will help our Panel understand what specific learning will be covered by your project You have entered 0 words (250 words max)

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Please describe how you will work effectively with your designated Digital Inclusion Officer

We are going to work closely with our Digital Inclusion Officer on this, our first Clarion project. We are aware that the Clarion Team have a lot of knowledge and experience that will make our lives a lot easier. We recognise that this means working to your timetables and systems and literally meeting you were you are.

To be clear - we have the right kit, volenteers, and high quality faciliators, all we need is someone to be on the other end of the phone when we need some guidance

How will this project help jobseekers?

The Digital Local Heroes project allows jobseekers to gain, develop and demonstrate a range of important employability skills such as research, copyright law, sourcing, non-fiction writing, teamwork, and proofreading  in addition to the obvious information technology skills.   Moreover the Digital Local Heroes project allows older people to stay engaged digitally, and to continue to give to the local communities in a way that gives them pride.

Project Sustainability - what’s next?

We intend that the group of trainees gradually transitions into a social volenteering club were people come together to share what they are working on. We’ve devoted quite a lot of the project and ciriculum planning to this end and we intend to continue supporting the club (both because it’s the right thing to do and because an ongoing club will make it much easier to scale up the project in future. This social club would be funded just like thousands of others: members would split the cost of the venue between them, someone would bring biscuits and others would take on the various organisaional roles that pop up.

How will you use the learning from this project to design future work?

This is a pilot of a project we’ve been passionate about for several years. At one level, we can’t help but learn from it. It’s our long term vision to set up hundreds of clubs like this to both provide oppertunities for true digital volenteering and help correct some of the long-term systemic bias’s in Wikipedia’s coverage.

We’re interested in how our project compares to both ‘standard IT’ interventions in terms of recruitment and results, as well as how well it compares to other Wikipedia outreach projects.

All participants in our project will be digital volenteers. They’ll also be benefitiarious in the traditional sense of receviing training and upskilling. erterte