Techies in Residence launches ‘Design Hops’ to support VCSE Sector online

Foundation News

Techies in Residence launches ‘Design Hops’ to support VCSE Sector online

26 Jun 2020

The Community Foundation has today, 26th June 2020, announced a new approach to its 5th round of Techies in Residence, an innovative programme which matches local charities and social enterprises with digital technology partners, which is set to launch later this week.  The programme, which has empowered over 25 groups since its inception, is focused on creating powerful change within communities through digital technology.  Based on its work so far, the Foundation believes that digital technology holds huge potential to help the VCSE sector develop new innovative solutions to address challenges and issues. This challenge has become even more evident in light of the outbreak of COVID 19 with many organisations grappling with the shift to digital working – and how best to respond to it.


This year’s Techies in Residence will have a two-phased approach, with an initial set of rolling ‘Online Design Hop’ events planned. Following participation in one of these online sessions, those who feel they have a project ready to take forward with a digital technology partner, can then apply for the Techies in Residence programme which will run from 4th August – 10th September.  

Dates for the Design Hops are as follows

28th July & 11th August – 2 x 2.5hr Sessions
4th August & 18th August – 2 x 2.5hr Sessions
6th August & 20th August – 2 x 2.5hr Sessions

Sign up to Design Hops here. 


The Design Hops will focus on the ‘co-design’ element of the programme and enable participants to explore some of the challenges they face as an organisation.  From these, participants can then decide to take their worked-up idea forward to the delivery stage working with a digital technology partner.

*Please note it is NOT a requirement to apply for to TiR after your have signed up to a Design Hop. This is a digital support programme open to all VCSE organisations exploring their digital needs.* 


Funded by Comic Relief six groups completed the programme last year and competed for a share of a £25,000 seed fund to progress their prototype to the next stage. PPR (Participation & the Practise of Rights) one of the successful groups was awarded £5,000 to develop their ‘Housing Rights Watch” app.  The app allows members of the public to directly apply to the Housing Executive Chief Executive for official homeless status, utilising their formal complaints process and has been developed in response to an increasing volume of homeless people who are without official Full Duty Applicant Status.


Commenting on their experience within Techies in Residence, Marissa Mc Mahon, an organiser with human rights organisation PPR, commented;


“We found the programme really beneficial, and it has really helped us improve the support we provide.  Since launching the app we have been able to support more homeless people who were denied official homeless status until we intervened. They are the tip of the iceberg. Many more homeless people have no support at all and will spend weeks, months and years in hostels waiting for recognition. In the meantime Housing Rights Watch will be rolling out in hostels providing support to homeless people to claim their rights.”


Paul Braithwaite, Head of Innovation and Voice at the Community Foundation, added;


“COVID19 has really hit the VCSE sector hard. Everyone has had to rapidly adapt to new ways of working with digital technology central to that. As we come through the initial emergency phase Techies in Residence provides an excellent opportunity for VCSE organisations to drive forward their own digital transformation and work with the best tech talent here to create great new digital products and services benefiting individuals and communities.  This year the Design Hops are the first step, or ‘hop’, into exploring the role of digital in charitable services. By demystifying technology and design, and placing the focus on people not tech, this free workshop and follow-up support will help those interested to start their digital journey on the right foot.”


Penny Yewers, Senior Adviser for Social Tech at Comic Relief said

“We’re all too aware of the challenges charities have faced in trying to ensure vital support continues to reach the most vulnerable people and communities throughout lockdown. For many, this has meant adopting digital-led solutions. As a programme which supports the development of exciting tech solutions to social challenges, while enabling charities to adapt to the everchanging needs they are facing; we are delighted to be investing in the Techies in Residence programme once again this year.”

From today you can register for the online design hops here. Applications for the TiR programme will open on July 28th 2020.


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