Making the most of the community-led data and ‘lived experience’ stories in Milton Keynes

Why gather community intelligence?!

We want to enable the Community and Voluntary sector of MK to work together to ensure that real lived experience and grass roots needs are understood in order to improve life in MK for all. The tool will enable our local VCSE groups to record their intelligence in one place, which can then be analysed, shared and communicated. The aim is to have a collective bank of intelligence that can be used to influence the local decision and policy-making, so that our local services reflect the needs Milton Keynes’ residents. Take a look at our workshop presentation here.

We are excited to let you know that we have made progress on our Catalyst-funded project. With help from a number of local voluntary groups, we have developed our online tool for recording community intelligence, which can now be used by our local Voluntary and Community Sector (you!)

It’s time to start using the MK Community Data tool

The next few months are pivotal in this project so we really need your help. Between June and August we have funding to keep our digital partner, Mosaic Digital, on board to help us develop the tool. We need as many organisations as possible to use the tool so we have real data to use to test producing reports, snapshots and collating intelligence in a meaningful way. Your feedback on how user friendly you find the tool and how we can help you build it into your everyday working practices.

You can access the tool online: 

How does the tool work? Please click here to watch a short video showing you how to use the tool, or see our ‘how-to’ videos below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who can use the tool?

Charities, Voluntary and Community groups, Informal groups, Local Town and Parish Councils. There is a list of organisations on the tool, if your organisation is not listed you just complete this form and then you will be added and can upload your information.

Why is my organisation not listed? 

We worked with various groups and organisations throughout the development of the tool in the previous funding phases, these are the organisations that have been added so far. We are also keen to keep the database as up to data as possible. Please complete this short form so you can be added to the form as soon as possible. 

What should I record? 

Experiences and insights that your service users share – the tool has 4 main categories: Interests, Ideas, Issues, Impacts. Whatever you record is likely to fall under one of these categories which will then go onto inform how the analysis is done. 

Where will my information go? 

The intelligence that you upload will be stored securely. The connection is secure, and uses a SSL certificate to ensure data is safe and encrypted when a form is submitted. We will continue to explore the best ways of securing information and how to share with those who are engaging with the tool.  

What could I get out of sharing the intelligence through MK Community Data? 

The tool will help identify opportunities for the local VCSE groups to collaborate and work effectively together. 

Who will get to see the information? 

Community Action: MK will access the information submitted through the tool. Snapshots and summaries will then be shared periodically relating to categories, themes and keywords. These will be shared with the VCSE groups who submit information through the tool and with the wider VCSE sector. During the testing period, our digital partner, Mosaic Digital, will also be able to access the data (only for the purposes of working with us to further develop and adapt the technical functions of the tool). 

How will the information be shared? How much detail should I share about the experience of my service users? 

We want you to share as much detail as possible, but it is important that information is recorded in an anonymous way. Please don’t share any personal or identifiable details. We will double check data before sharing and can contact you to follow up. The data will not be shared publicly, but instead the Community Action: MK team will translate it into reports. These might be shared publicly, including through Community Action: MK’s communication channels and through the networks and partnerships, which we facilitate or support.

What happens if the data is recorded includes personal data?

If and when we receive any insights via the tool that are not anonymous (which include personal data), we will: 1) Contact the relevant group or organisation that submitted the insight, explaining the need to anonymise; 2) Delete the entry and request that the insight is submitted in an anonymous format (which excluded any personal data); 3) We will not share personal data in any of our public reports.

How do I tell my service users/beneficiaries/people I support that I am sharing their experiences in MK Community Data Tool?

To ensure complete transparency, we recommend your organisation share a statement that makes your beneficiaries / services users aware that information they provide may be anonymised and recorded in the MK Community Data tool. We recommend that you give them the option to opt out of this – e.g if the information they provide is of a sensitive nature. The suggested statement that you copy and paste is: here

Why are you asking for my email address? 

Your email and data will be stored securely. We are asking for your email address to be able to follow up on any of the information that you submit (e.g. around your needs or ideas) and so that we can share with you data snapshots and reports. We won’t share your email address with anyone outside of Community Action: MK without your permission. You can request that your email address is removed from our database at any time – by emailing

What is Community Action: MK’s role in coordinating the tool?

Community Action: MK has developed the tool to enable the wider VCSE sector in Milton Keynes to collate and share information in a coordinated way. We will project-manage the use of the tool, including promoting within the sector, analysing and sharing the data recorded through it, and supporting the VCSE groups that will be using it. 

What do I do/ who can I contact if I experience issues or have questions about the tool? 

MK Community Data is still in the process of being developed so please contact us with any questions, queries or suggestions, we would love to hear from you. We believe that co-creation is vital . Email us at  

What happens when your funding finishes? 

One of the guiding principles for developing the tool for us has been its sustainability and low-cost. With this in mind, the tool itself is very inexpensive to maintain. We recognise that time and resources will need to be invested into promoting and rolling out the tool, and making the most of the data that is submitted. With this in mind, we are developing a business plan for the tool and a roadmap, which will include incorporating feedback from the local VCSE groups – on how to best use it for the benefit of the VCSE sector going forward. 

Some videos from us – we hope they help!

Introduction to MK Community Data – Why we need your help and the impact this tool can have on the local VCSE
This shows you an example of uploading your intelligence onto MK Community Data

Below are some additional videos that guide you through the different steps of data submission, if you have any questions or would like any additional information please email us

A bit more about the project…

The challenge we want to address

A key issue we picked up on, which has been felt particularly strong during the last few months of the pandemic, was that despite a vast amount of intelligence at grassroots level, there are not systems in place to understand the whole picture, identify gaps and ensure vulnerable people are not left behind. The voluntary sector needs to be involved in producing and then using digital solutions to make a difference at system level. We know that we gather a huge wealth of data representing the lived experience of our local communities.

Exploring technical solution

The aim of our project is to co-develop a cost-effective and accessible tool for recording, analysing and sharing community data within our local VCSE sector to enable us to identify needs within our communities (particularly among those that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic) – to work collaboratively within the sector to address these needs and to have a powerful bank of intelligence to share with our local policy and decision makers, and with other sectors (e.g. public health, local authority etc). 

We have been working with a digital partner, Mosaic Digital Consultants, on understanding the data we need to capture and designing a tool for collecting, analysing and sharing it.

We have also engaged with and received support from a number of the local VCSE groups, who have been helping us with the initial testing of our prototype tool and providing lots of useful feedback to help us refine it and make it as effective and user friendly as possible. Thank you for your support!

Co-production and input from our local groups

We would like to thank all of the local organisations who contributed to the project in its Discovery phase and look forward to working with a wide range of groups in the next stage of the project. It is a short-term, 10-week long project, but we are really keen to involved as many groups as possible. We will be letting you know about the opportunities to get involved – through this project page, the Medium platform (see below) and through our newsletter. However, If you have any questions or would like more information on the project/ are interested in getting involved, please get in touch on

Stay up to date…

We are embracing the open learning/working principles as part of this project and will be posting regular updates about the development of the project on this page as well as through the Medium platform here: – visit it to see our weekly notes about our work on the project!

You can see more information, including all our ‘design assets’ on the Catalyst ‘Open Working‘ site:

Workshop – Tuesday 20th July at 2pm (online – via Zoom)

We run an information and open learning workshop for the local VCSE groups during which we gave an overview of the tool, given the attendees the opportunity to input their data and listened to their feedback about some of the tool’s functions, which was incredibly useful! Angus, representing our digital partners, Mosaic Digital, attended too and was able to respond to the feedback about the technical functions of the tool. You can see the slides from the workshop here.

Further support

We run weekly online support sessions on a range of support topics – if you would like us to take you through the tool or answer any of your questions, do register at: