Revisiting the original vision and how it could work

I'm really amazed at the response from everyone who has written back, subscribed to this blog or joined the Facebook site - and its only been a day!! Lots more ideas flowing in so I thought I'd put a little more detail down around the project. The initial idea and how it could work has moved along a bit since I first wrote about it, so here's an update. This is Part 1 of what I handed over to 'Jr. Fresh' at Lloyds for safekeeping.

The basic outline (project type 1)

The Urban Survival Project is expected be a
Web 2.0 social networking site for volunteers, that primarily targets young professionals but open to anyone by linking into and feeding out of the existing social networking sites they use, primarily Facebook because it already focuses on just the right demographic.

The other face of the project is an information portal of content developed by Young Professional Volunteer members for young people aged 13 to 21+ with key information, advice, help and tips on making choices about and dealing with education, finding and applying for jobs, starting up small businesses and coping with life challenges. The end goal is for this to be a resource both for young people directly and also the volunteers and support staff that help them.


I discussed a bit about this when
exploring the 4 themes, so I'll keep it short. Content will hopefully include shared profiles, member blogs and posts, podcasts e.g. of advice and experience, videocasts e.g. of mock interviews, rich internet applications and widgets for example around being able to visualise career progression, capability for volunteers to submit written articles and tips and share experience, inter-member interactivity e.g. invite friends and messaging, presence information e.g. knowing who's online, preferences on seeing volunteering opportunities, and points or rewards for volunteering.

Reward points for volunteering could be ratified nationally through formal organizations like the Prince’s Trust or Connexions and thus be valid for use in CVs as an incentive for people to get and stay involved.

The site will ideally also have question and answer capability for young people to ask for help or find mentors and support.


Both Volunteers and Young people needing help should have membership profiles and rich interaction capability, but profile and content synchronisation with social networking sites is really only expected to be relevant for volunteers as it is difficult to imagine that anyone is going to want to flag to their friends that they're asking for or receiving help - but thats someone we need to verify. I'm also currently hoping to set it up in a way that means any offline interpersonal interaction between volunteers and vulnerable young adults will be facilitated and managed through links with existing youth organizations, who will be responsible for the necessary police checks and supervision in order to ensure safety for vulnerable young people.


The aim is to enable the volunteer network to also be open for Social organizations and Charities to tap into, so they may also have profiles and the ability to add and maintain volunteering opportunities. A further extension of this would to be able to take donations and raise funds either to maintain the project or to raise money for other charities.

I'm hoping for the project to be a profit making social enterprise with revenue primarily generated through partnership, advertising or sponsorship, possible subscription services and merchandising of branded material; but for any revenue to be managed by a transparent social charter that ensures open and ethical distribution of any funds accrued.


For now I'm aiming for this to be an open source website either interfaced with or built upon the Facebook API, OpenSocial or FOAF, although the exact technology is yet to be determined. People will have the capability to develop their own content for the site as applications or add-ons, and be actively encouraged to help by doing so.


In my ideal world we'll do this without the need for funds, essentially by tapping into our professional social networks. I think we could get pretty far by first setting up a conceptual model which will cost nothing but a bit of our own brain power, and then developing it through the help of volunteers with technical skills (Plan A). The fall back position of course being to go the trational route and fund the development (Plan B) - see my post on
Plans A and B. Looks like this will need more discussion though.

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