Aiming big, starting small…

The GLA aim to improve Civil Society’s data capacity and skills.

As the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) Civil Society team, one of our ultimate goals is ensuring the GLA plays its part in supporting a thriving Civil Society in London. One of the concrete ways we are doing this is through improving Civil Society’s data capacity and skills.

My role involves working with Civil Society to develop projects and support to achieve this objective. You might think that this is a pretty big task, and you would be right. Luckily we are joined by many organisations and partners working towards the same objective.

At City Hall we have decided to take a test and learn approach, we’ve broken this challenge down into digestible, tangible projects and initiatives to contribute toward the ultimate goal.

We believe the development of Civil Society’s data skills and capacity will have a positive impact on the sector. We have designed projects and initiatives which aim to support charities and community organisations in developing the skills they need to understand the benefits of data and implement it in programme design and delivery, funding applications and campaigning.

We also strongly believe that Civil Society has the potential to inform the strategy and policy work in London. The work of civil society is embedded within communities, supporting them to thrive. Organisations on the ground will be the first to identify new issues and trends. We see data as fundamental to helping identify and share this knowledge, ensuring policy is informed directly by the people it is going to affect.

In order to do the above, we are trialling a number of test and learn approaches. Here are a few we are currently working on.

  • We have recently awarded a grant to Superhighways, DataKindUK and freelance consultant Rita Chadha, to deliver a Refugee and Migrant Data Project. The grant is for a pilot project aiming to support refugee and migrant sector organisations to develop ethical principles for data collection and use, pilot a data skills training programme and support the cohort of organisations to implement learning through tailored post-training support.
  • Our Sports Data Expedition in October 2018, saw multi-disciplinary volunteers from across sectors, sports funders, those delivering community sports, data scientists and policy makers come together to delve into a range of open source sports data. The day saw interesting findings about inactivity in London, sports and social integration and the distribution of sports finding. Find out more in our blog from the day.
  • In August 2018 we published our Grants data on 360 Giving and are working internally to complete this picture and then use 360s tools to understand more about our own giving.
  • We are also delivering a number of sessions about our London Datastore and how to use it. With London Plus we have created useful data resources and step by step guides as to how to use the datasets available on the Datastore. This is to highlight the power of open data and how it can support Civil Society organizations in their work.
  • We also offer London Datastore digital office hours for Civil Society to send in questions or queries about the Datastore or specific datasets to
  • We’ve also recently hosted our first Data Bytes @ City Hall session, a space aimed at Data 4 Good organisations in London to come together to network and collaborate. We are hoping to host these quarterly, bringing together those interested in the sector to share updates on their own projects, share success stories and challenges of working with Civil Society and data and support one another to problem solve.

As you can see we are trialling a multi-faceted approach and are always keen to hear about new and interesting ways to achieve our ultimate goals of improving Civil Societies Data skills and capacity.

If you are doing something interesting in this field and want to share or want to find more about our work you can email us at or visit our webpage at

Have you seen our previous guest blog ‘Open data in London‘ written by Manny Hothi, Director of Policy at Trust for London, and Rachel Rank, CEO of 360Giving?