We like a good news story – here’s one we’ve just received from the PhonepayPlus newsletter:
A national competition that challenges young people to use their mobiles for good in their community saw a 330% increase on entries in 2011 – this massive increase questioning the more negative stories about young people and mobile phones.
The competition finalists will be converging on ITV’s London headquarters on 24th January to take part in a mobile giving ‘dragons’ den’, battling it out for awards of up to £1,500 to help turn their socially-minded ideas into reality. The nine groups of young people have been picked from schools and youth clubs nationwide. They will be pitching their ideas to a panel of judges (which includes representatives from companies such as BT, O2 and Three), in the hope of securing funding and ongoing business mentoring courtesy of Live UnLtd, the young social entrepreneurship support organisation.
The competition is part of the PhoneBrain youth education programme (www.phonebrain.org.uk), which was set up by PhonepayPlus (the UK regulator for premium rate telephone services). Now in its third year, PhoneBrain helps young people recognise the services on their phone that might cost them more, but also highlights the opportunities associated with these emerging technologies via the social enterprise competition which is open to 11-19 year olds. For the first time in 2011, the programme has been rolled out to youth clubs throughout the UK via the Clubs for Young People network, in addition to schools in England and Wales.
The enthusiasm shown by this year’s entrants to use their phones for good mirrors a recent report from nfpSynergy supported by the Charities Aid Foundation, which found that over 70% of charities see the potential of mobiles to engage with a younger generation of donors.
Ann Cook, ITV’s Director of Interactive & Managing Director of ITL, said:
“We are so excited to be hosting this event in partnership with PhonepayPlus. At ITV, we have recently seen the value of charitable text donation first-hand with our hugely successful ‘Text Santa’ appeal, which aimed to raise awareness and money for those most vulnerable during the festive period.
“To date, we have raised £4m for six different charities as a result of this programme, and it is really inspiring to see young people also recognising the potential of mobile as a tool to encourage giving. I can’t wait to meet all the finalists on the 24th.”
Many of the ideas are not just about giving money, but rather tackle how people can use their phones to donate and share time, assets, skills, knowledge and support. One of the proposals is for a mobile game linked with real-life charity and volunteering – for example, a young person who spent two hours volunteering in their community would be awarded the next level of the game as a result.
Another idea being showcased on the 24th is ‘e-Tips’, a concept developed by PhoneBrain finalist Siobhan Giles, 13, of Avonbourne School in Bournemouth. Siobhan is hoping to cross the generational tech divide with the service. Siobhan leads an after school club for older ‘Silver Surfers’ who want to engage with digital and mobile technology. e-Tips would allow older people to text any tricky questions they may have outside of the club to young advisors who would step in to offer advice and support via their mobiles.
“My idea, e-Tips, is a text service which our club members will be able use if they run into any problems following a session. For example, if they have a specific question about the internet or if something pops up on their phone that they’re unsure about. We’re really keen to support local elderly residents and ensure they do not have to fight digital exclusion alone – e-Tips will help us do that.”
PhonepayPlus’ Chief Executive, Paul Whiteing, commented:
“All of these innovative, socially useful ideas from young people point to charity text donation being the tip of the iceberg of what smartphones and micropayments, such as premium rate, can offer to volunteers, community groups, charities and social entrepreneurs. We are working hard with charities and the wider premium rate industry to ensure that this growth area of giving retains the confidence of potential donors and is a space where innovation can flourish.
“I am looking forward immensely to judging the competition and wish all the finalists the best of luck in their preparations.”