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Colebrook is a Plymouth based not-for-profit organisation established in 1983. Their mission is to inspire people and support communities, and they achieve this by offering a wide range of services that help vulnerable people, help grow communities and give local people a voice. They offer supported accommodation projects and community-based outreach services for people with issues with mental health, disabilities and complex needs. Through their two community centres and gardening schemes, they run activities and projects that keep communities active and healthy.  

Colebrook became interested in adding digital advancements into their organisation a few years ago. However, it wasn’t until their CEO, Vicky Shipway, saw Cosmic presenting at an event that it really caught their interest. They recognised it would be really beneficial for them to make some changes and to become more digitally established. However, Vicky realised that Colebrook “had great intentions, but not enough knowledge, expertise or capacity” to implement any new development. With a diverse workforce of all ages, there was going to be culture challenges too. They contacted Cosmic and asked them to present to their Board of Directors in order to gain the necessary buy-in at a senior level.  

Subsequently, Vick Shipway wrote up a ‘Digital Opportunity Plan’ for the Company. This comprised of both “baby-steps and long-term plans” that would benefit both the Company as well as the vulnerable people that they support.  

Through the Enhanced Social Enterprise programme (ESE) Cosmic were able to take Vicky through our Digital Leadership Programme. The ESE project delivers business support and advice to new and established social enterprises within the Heart of South West LEP area, and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Vicky attended the five-month course on behalf of Colebrook and started the journey of implementing new Digital aspects into the Company. Cosmic understands that for a Digital Transformation project to be successful, there needs to be strong Digital Leadership. The programme brought together a number of other social enterprises and charities, encouraging peer-learning and sharing of experiences. The executive-level training guides leaders through a series of modules and projects, educating them on topics such as implementing new digital culture and mindset within organisations, as well as helping to create a digital strategy and roadmap.  

One of Colebrook’s goals is to move to being cloud-based (software) rather than using paper and local data storage, “although this isn’t as easy as it sounds”. As Vicky describes it, “it is more difficult to change a VW Beetle into a Ferrari than to make a Ferrari from scratch”; it’s easier to be cloud-based from the beginning than to try and switch it over later. The Digital Leadership Course has helped Vicky to start planning how to more efficiently run their business digitally, and they have ambitious plans to use new technologies to better-serve the needs of their beneficiaries and community. Through the training, Vicky now has the skill and understanding to effectively design and deliver a robust Digital Strategy that will take Colebrook forward into the next decade.