Frequently Asked Questions

Using Town Digital Hub

WHAT IS A TOWN DIGITAL HUB?

An interactive Web site for a community of any size, where people can find curated local resources for their wellness plan.

WHAT IS SOCIAL PRESCRIBING?

A term used in the NHS to describe the recommendation to patients of non-medical local services that may help them improve their wellness.  This is often called signposting.

HOW DOES TOWN DIGITAL HUB SUPPORT SOCIAL PRESCRIBING?

By providing the route to action - a secure online way for community members, guided by professional and volunteer advocates, to create a personal wellness plan from community assets and give permission to view it to people/organisations that support them.

HOW IS THE TOWN DIGITAL HUB MODEL DIFFERENT FROM STANDARD SOCIAL PRESCRIBING?

The standard social prescribing model is a light touch approach suited to people with minor wellness issues:

  • Retains roles of professional practitioner and patient

  • Replaces a prescription to take drugs with a prescription to attend community events

  • Revolves around attendance monitoring by professionals rather than helping clients to understand and address root causes of low wellness


The Town Digital Hub model is a sustained approach suited to people with more serious wellness issues:

  • Regards wellness as a journey towards self-activation

  • Recognises that a personal support network is a critical enabler in resolving major wellness challenges

  • Releases the full potential of volunteering in supporting wellness, both in drawing on support from others and as part of becoming a self-activated community member

WHY DO YOU SAY WELLNESS, RATHER THAN WELLBEING?

To some, wellbeing just means illness prevention.  So we say wellness, and work with each community to help develop a holistic, volunteer-enabled approach.

WHO USES A TOWN DIGITAL HUB, AND WHAT FOR?

  • Providers of services (community, voluntary, public sector and other):
    Asset creation - Publish activities/services/events and seek participation

  • Clinicians, link workers, social workers, and other professional or volunteer coaches/mentors:
    Asset curation - Help curate, develop, and promote new assets
    Asset signposting - Recommend assets to clients

  • Community members, supported by coaches/mentors as necessary:
    Asset usage - Use assets in personal wellness plans, which they can share with the clinicians, therapists and other people who support them in their life journey
    Wellness self-monitoring - Update their wellness plans periodically

  • Commissioners of services (council, NHS, and other):
    Asset development - Review asset effectiveness to address gaps and overlaps

WHAT HARDWARE OR SOFTWARE DO I NEED TO USE A TOWN DIGITAL HUB?

Any computer, tablet, smartphone or other device that has a Web browser.

WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE SUCH A DEVICE?

Many people have no access to the Internet (in 2014, 1 in 7 people in the UK), so we encourage the use of libraries. We also aim to identify "hub champions" for micro-communities such as a street and give them a free mini-tablet if they use it to help others access their Town Digital Hub.

WHERE CAN I FIND TRAINING MATERIAL FOR TOWN DIGITAL HUB

A complete guide to using Town Digital Hub, fully illustrated with screenshots, is available here.  It can be used either for self-directed or classroom training.

Frequently Asked Questions

Commissioning Town Digital Hub

"WellBrum (the Birmingham deployment of Town Digital Hub) lets Gift Exchange clients access community assets, contribute to activities by volunteering, and help develop new community services. WellBrum currently covers Edgbaston and Ladywood, but will include other areas as our scope widens. WellBrum and Gift Exchange aim to improve the mental health of local people, who gain control of their recovery and resilience by creating a wellness plan that lets them engage with activities/groups, give feedback, and express interest in building new community assets." (Nadia Guddam, Project Manager, Gift Exchange)

WHY IS TOWN DIGITAL HUB UNLIKE OTHER WELLNESS (WELLBEING) SOFTWARE?

We believe that illness is a medical issue but wellness is a different challenge that encompasses all aspects of life and requires sustained, collaborative support.  So Town Digital Hub is an holistic solution for communities, owned by volunteer organisations and members of the community as well as by as by clinicians, link workers, social workers, and other professionals, and that scales up easily to as large an area and as many communities as desired.

None of this requires any technical integration, making it very easy and low cost to deploy.  Referral uses a simple Web form.  As a community member, you can invite professional providers and others in your personal network to view your Wellness Plan - once they have accepted the invitation by email, they receive a secured Web link they can use to view your Wellness Plan, personal details, and any self-assessment data you create as part of your wellness journey.  You can also reach out easily to anyone in your personal network using social media.

WHY IS TOWN DIGITAL HUB NOT JUST ANOTHER DIRECTORY, ASSET MAP OR SOURCE OF GUIDANCE?

Town Digital Hub is more than a website.  Underpinning it is a sophisticated database that captures many inter-related aspects of a community.  To add, view, and maintain the data about a community, its members and those who support them use interactive web pages in their local website.  The local websites (digital hubs) are linked together geographically (by locality, region, and country) so it is easy to go from one to another.

The web pages for a digital hub are secure, easy to use, and provide:

  • A powerful directory of community assets, easy to share and print, that you can search by

    • Organisation name, or any part of it

    • Tags such as "Cancer" or "Yoga"

    • Distance from a postcode, with directions if you want them

    • Issues and goals addressed, such as "Physical Activity" and "Help my kids be more active"

  • The ability to

    • Make, share, and manage personal wellness plans

    • Assess your progress towards the outcomes you want

  • If you run a community group or activity, a way to

    • Promote events

    • Offer tickets (free or paid) for appointments and events

    • Seek participation from others

    • Gain helpful feedback from local people

  • Charts and reports at different levels of detail about

    • How community assets are being used

    • The value they are delivering

HOW IS TOWN DIGITAL HUB DIFFERENT TO A NORMAL WEBSITE?

With a normal website, any changes required to keep it up to date must be made by technical people, a process that takes time and can be expensive.  By contrast, Town Digital Hub allows members of the community to keep it up to date for themselves using simple, non-technical entry forms.

HOW CAN WE USE TOWN DIGITAL HUB TOGETHER WITH EXISTING WEBSITES ABOUT COMMUNITY RESOURCES?

A key purpose of Town Digital Hub is to showcase specialised grass roots websites, making it easier for local people to find them, understand what they are for, and tell each other about them.  Websites showcased may also include targeted parts of free or low cost general offerings that can help strengthen local communities. Town Digital Hub helps community providers work together to use such services and remedy their gaps and overlaps.

HOW DOES TOWN DIGITAL HUB SUPPORT CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES SUCH AS FAITH, DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY?

It is possible to include such Issues directly in a digital hub (with associated Goals and resources) or even to make them the sole focus of a digital hub.  However, in many cases it is helpful to showcase related groups, guidance, and other community services under a range of different wellness Issues, including for example Helping, Meeting, Learning, Work, Safety, and Transport, so as to provide highly targeted and proactive support in specific areas.​

IS THE AIM OF TOWN DIGITAL HUB TO REDUCE HEALTH INEQUALITIES?

That is part of our aim, but more generally we believe that helping communities help themselves will bring a wide range of important benefits in many areas of life.

HOW DO YOU MEASURE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF A TOWN DIGITAL HUB?

Our core model is Person-Issue-Goal-centred and the platform captures data automatically to support this since we know details of users, what they are putting in their wellness plans, how valuable to their wellness they are finding it (using a range of numeric measures), and the impact on various personal outcomes.  We can also track clicks at a very detailed level to form a highly place-based picture of community engagement with specific Issues, Goals and services.  We can link all this with data collected by service providers.  There is an enormous amount of useful data locked away in the websites, membership lists and attendance records of community organisations - by joining it up as Open Data into a systematic framework and connecting it with the overall wellness plan of each person we can unlock its value and form a very exact picture of who is doing what, understand the value propositions of each service type, and address gaps/overlaps.

We also collect a range of more detailed data.  People including health professionals, link workers, and others can make recommendations and referrals via the platform, and we can measure their usage as well as the time saved through using the platform.  Users can record various information about themselves in their account, and organisations can record additional data about their affiliates (which includes clients), all of which we can link to the organisational data above to provide comprehensive aggregated Public Health analyses.

HOW MUCH DOES TOWN DIGITAL HUB COST?

The Web site is available to all communities for free.  We sustain it by providing optional chargeable support services, and use whatever is left after our labour and overhead costs to host, maintain and enhance Town Digital Hub.

Support services include access to digital hub curation features, training, configuration, cleansing and bulk upload of data, correction of data errors, search engine optimisation, hub/issue management, usage monitoring, creation of customised pages, provision of extracts for reporting purposes, and other services as required.


For this we generally make a charge proportional to the population size, but we are a social enterprise and adjust pricing for every community - contact us to discuss.

HOW CAN WE GET OUR OWN TOWN DIGITAL HUB?

Contact us and we'll set it up for you, free of charge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Troubleshooting Town Digital Hub

THE PAGE IS FLICKERING - WHAT'S GOING ON?

Wait a moment and once the page has fully loaded it will probably go away.

If not, you are probably trying to display a large amount of information (for example, 250 rows rather than the default of 25 rows at a time) in an old version of the Web browser Microsoft Internet Explorer that does not support the current standard way of automatically adjusting Web page size.  To solve the problem, either reduce the amount of information on display (for example, to the default of 25 rows at a time) or make your Web browser window smaller (for example, not maximized to full screen).

REDUCE MORTALITY FROM NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND PROMOTE MENTAL HEALTH

By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.

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