Trustees were saying "Oh my gosh!  I knew we were going to get a website but I didn't think we were going to get a real website"

Elmington Community Gardens is a group of Elmington Estate (Camberwell) residents who identify disused and misused places on the estate and re-establish them as areas which aim to improve biodiversity, estate aesthetics, resident mental health and community engagement. 

Meet Zuleika

Zuleika Williams is one of four trustees that manage Elmington Community Gardens. She is responsible for much of the administration and organising of the group's work.

 

The digital challenge

Elmington Community Gardens was initially created as a small group of local residents. The organisation had grown very quickly.

To attract more funding, showcase their projects and promote events, they decided they needed a website.

"We were talking about it and literally the next morning we got an email from Community Southwark with training offers from Superhighways" she says "So that was very timely, the right support coming along at the right time!"

Neither Zuleika or other trustees had experience of building websites.

I'd bought the domain name about 6 months before but I hadn't done anything with it because I didn't know where to start.

Screenshot of homepage

How Superhighways helped

Zuleika Williams joined Superhighways' cohort of trainees for ‘Build my community website in 7 weeks’ course in October 2023. 

Zuleika very quickly built the website herself with skills learned during the 7-week training programme. 

"I really enjoyed it", Zuleika says. "Sorrel is a very good teacher.  I found it really easy to follow, she works at different people's levels. I found it really interesting and straightforward".

Zuleika has been able to pass knowledge and skills to others in the organisation.

I've been able to teach the other trustees how to do it,  so that they are able to do it themselves as well, I wouldn't have been able to do that if she hadn't taught me properly.  

 

A bit of extra advice with domains and storage

Superhighways provided one-to-one support to ensure the website was connected to the correct dominant domain (they had bought two).

We advised that they no longer needed to pay for a site security certificate (SSL) as Voice Online Communities applies it freely and automatically platform-wide for all community websites.

Elmington Community Gardens had also been using personal gmail addresses for their emails and Google Drive storage. This is common with new groups and those that grow quickly, with the danger that if someone leaves the organisation their data may leave with them.

We didn't know that you could get Google Workspace for free as a charity

"That's what Paul helped me to do as well,  all of our emails are now linked through Google Workspace,  so everything in the emails and the drives is shared".

The first thing I shared was all the website training documents, so if I was to leave, if all four of us were to leave, they would be there for whoever comes after.

With trustees working full time and unable to attend training, this has made a big difference.

About support from Superhighways, Zuleika says.

Anytime you contact them they will get straight back to you. They are always happy to help, no question is too big or too small,  they're really good

 

The results

The website now gives a clear picture of where the organisation started from and where the group is now.

"We are able to update the pictures regularly, to show how quickly things are changing. It's just a very easy way of showing funders all that we do,  in more than the 250 words that you've got available [in bids and reporting]" explains Zuleika.

She has added a QR code on the website to the organisation's Whatsapp group. 

"As soon as I put the link on, people who we don't know, you can see them joining the group, so that's definitely working.

Google shows us how many visits we've had,  and how many searches we've had, and that's increased a lot since we've had the website as well".

it's good to be able to see the results, so you can have confidence that it's reaching people

Visit Elmington Community Gardens website to see the results of Zuleika's hard work.

Need training or support?

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Find out more at our introductory webinar:

 

About Digital Foundations

Grass, London skyline and various digital icons graphic

Digital Foundations is a training and advice programme led by small charity digital, data and technology experts Superhighways, backed by specialist organisations Voice Online Communities, Refugee Council and HEAR Equality and Human Rights Network.

Digital Foundations is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.