Sheffield Community Network worked with and developed existing media facilities within community centres, with the aim of promoting digital inclusion and economic engagement in deprived areas of Sheffield. The network developed and supported the establishment of several neighbourhood based Digital Media Centres, which in turn assisted new and existing Social Enterprises.

The Digital Media Centres acted as a focal point for digital enterprise and employment opportunities in the creative and digital sector. Each centre supported the development of sustainable enterprise at a neighbourhood level; this could include activities such as website development, ICT hardware recycling, community broadcasting, community information services and creative content production.

Each Digital Media Centre formed part of a network across the city and had access to a virtual platform which will support web development, podcasting and webcasting, as well as networking tools to facilitate knowledge sharing and exchange.

Sheffield Community Network has published an Internet Access Review. The report shows how the Sheffield Community Network is engaged with the current and future ecology of UK ICT provision to deliver social gain objectives whilst facing an uncertain economic climate.

Sheffield Community Network has now published the results of a programme of participatory action research – “New Strategies for Digital Inclusion – A participatory action research study” – from a series of pilot studies. The pilots aimed to increase understanding and test the potential of new technologies to support businesses and social enterprise; promote and encourage social entrepreneurship; and provoke and support new business ideas. The pilots conducted action-oriented research, through neighbourhood-based workshop activities, focussing on three areas of new technology: mobile computing, cloud computing, and physical computing. Summary document here.

Updated by Bill Best on 2 December 2014.