Digital Futures consists of three streams based around the groups of people we feel it is important to talk to for our work to be fully informed. The process is iterative and provides a number of different ways for people to get involved.
1. Public consultation
This part of Digital Futures engages people who have personal experience of being online when struggling to cope or people who care or are worried about others.
Samaritans has a Digital Futures blog that we have used to pose some key questions for feedback, and people have been responding in a number of ways, including commenting on blog posts and/or writing their own, talking about them on social media and emailing us comments. You can also watch our Digital Futures videos, which discuss some of the key issues, and you can also tweet us using the hashtag #digitalfutures.
Samaritans has also worked with an independent research agency called Truth to undertake additional research consisting of a series of online forums, focus groups and interviews.
2. Learning from others working online
Alongside our work with the public, we have also been talking to people and organisations who are online in a professional capacity. It is vital that we draw on the knowledge of those who are working in the sector to learn from them, so we have spoken to people who are experts in technology, privacy, service delivery and research to ensure that we are aware of the latest trends and evidence, to learn from others experiences and to ensure we have a clear understanding of data and privacy issues associated with developing online services. We also want to make sure that any projects we develop and sustainable and futureproofed for future developments in technology and online communications.
3. Volunteer Consultation
In addition, we have been talking to our volunteers to ensure they are involved in all aspects of our development work and to learn from the expertise of those who have experience of online service delivery.
4. Consultation by others on our behalf
We have been talking to some of our online partners and asking them to pose questions to their user bases on our behalf, enabling us to reach out to different audiences and to engage our partners in the process of understanding what the key challenges are for vulnerable people online.
Digital Futures ran from April until July. The final report can be accessed here.