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Introducing a new digital team at AUK

DigitalAUK March 16, 2020 09:27

Hi All,

I wanted to take the time to introduce myself, I’m Charlotte – the new Digital Engagement Manager for Adoption UK and a very proud Mum, to a little 22-month ball of energy, through adoption.

I have only been in post for a few weeks (this is a new role for Adoption UK), and you may have seen me cropping up as DigitalAUK and my colleague Andrew as OnlineAUK over the past few weeks. I thought it was about time I introduce us properly - so “hello”!

It’s almost a year since we set up our partnership with LinkMaker and we changed to our existing Forum functionality. Both teams are aware of the problems and the frustrations that this change caused. So, I would like to start with an apology… we at AUK didn’t communicate these changes in the best way and there were far too many bugs in the system when we launched. I do know it has changed the Forum massively and many users have left. It is not where we wanted to be and certainly not how we would like to move forward.

The heart of this online community is the support, encouragement, advice and virtual friendship you give one another, and we hope that we can work with you to develop the Forum into a safe and secure online community that works for adopters and prospective adopters. Our major hope is to reinvigorate the Forum once again.

I will pop back to update you all on the changes that have taken place over the past few months. But in the meantime, I wanted to highlight why we made the changes in the first place. LinkMaker works with Adoption UK on a pro bono basis and they are as passionate about our online community as we are; although both sides of this partnership do fully accept responsibility for the issues since launch.

The new Forum was conceived to create a platform for users to:

• have new ways to find other adopters directly, based on where they are, or the age of their children, for example.

• create friend groups, find playdates and live-chat with other families in safety. You won’t come across anyone who hasn’t had a positive identity check with an adoption agency.

• find new features such as improved text formatting and emojis. All the current Forum content will remain available.

We have posted updates over the past few months about what improvements have been made following bugs in the system or following messages from you, our users.

However, not everyone has seen these updates so I will create series of posts highlighting the changes and updates made to the Forum since last year. But the Forum will always be a work in progress and whilst we will be making improvements the coming months, we will always welcome your comments and feedback. It is vital that we have a forum that works for you, so please do contact Andrew or myself on the Forum or via the email onlineteam@adoptionUK.org.uk

Best wishes,

Charlotte

Edited 16/03/20
Donatella March 16, 2020 10:02

‘create friend groups, find playdates and live-chat with other families in safety. You won’t come across anyone who hasn’t had a positive identity check with an adoption agency.’

Thing is, this is now being done via Facebook groups - and in some cases being organised by AUK staff and volunteers. Friend groups are happening ... my friend group started here many years ago and we managed without the restrictions you’ve put in place. And we managed it safely.

Play dates - are we assuming we all have small children? I don’t.

ID check - see above! Again this assumes - imo - early placement, pre placement? I’ve had no contact with our Adoption agencies for years!

It’s positive that you’ve recognised your mistakes but you have an awful lot of catching up to do. How are you going to get this message out to those people who’ve left?!

DigitalAUK March 16, 2020 10:22

Hi Donatella,

Thanks for getting back to us so quickly. I'd like to address your points individually below.

We are aware of the facility Facebook has to create community groups, and as you rightly say, it is a function we also use to stay connected and help others stay connected. However, one of the advantages of the Forum is that it is a safer and more secure space - not every user of Facebook understands the need or knows how to set rigorous privacy settings which can leave them rather vulnerable. However, it is always up to the individuals to use a platform that suits them best, but security and safety for our Forum was, and always will be, paramount for us.

Play Dates - no we are not assuming anything. But there will be users - new and existing - that do have younger children and we decided that this was a relevant and needed addition to the Forum.

ID Check - no assumptions at all, but yes more relevant to early and pre-placement and perhaps new users who may have found us through Link Maker and want to have that extra bit of security.

Getting this message out to those who have left the Forum is not easy, but we hope that by continuing to work on creating a more informative and use-able Forum, as well as having users who offer advice, support and friendship, we will be able to reinvigorate the Forum for all involved - welcoming new users and perhaps even welcoming back those that had left. Only time will tell on this and I am sure we have, unfortunately, lost many users for good, but I hope we can only move forward in a more positive way to help rectify and reinvigorate.

Best wishes,
Charlotte

chestnuttree March 16, 2020 12:00

Hi Charlotte and thanks for your message. I wished this had been discussed with users before the changes.

I have no idea how the forum could go back to where it came from. The problem is that many experienced, older users are gone. They did not need support, but were willing to offer it to others. Where are they now? Did they go anywhere at all or have they withdrawn entirely? Why should they come back? This forum is not what it used to be and, unless you go back to the old format, it never will be. I now feel I am a dinosaur here and my kids are 12 and 13, so we are only at the beginning of the trickiest bit. This forum has turned into a desert and I fear those users are gone for good.

clr1(*^_^*) March 16, 2020 21:27

Yes, this forum really was a life saver for me during difficult times - the advice and knowledge was amazing. I really hope that we can rebuild this. Facebook just isn't the same.

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