Open Data Policy for Voluntary Service Councils.

Manchester Community Central  – the voluntary service council for the city – releases some of it’s data as open data.

They define it as

  • Open data are data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone

  • It is subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike

  • Open data are the building blocks of open knowledge

  • Open knowledge is what open data becomes when it’s useful, usable and used

and add that their main aims are


  • That our data are useful. We wish to publish data that bring value to those building a stronger community and voluntary sector.

  • That our data are meaningful. We wish to publish data that add to the ongoing dialogue and discussion about the sector.

  • That our data are accessible. We wish to publish data in an open and accessible way, and provide regular narrative and understanding to the stakeholders

So far they have provided open data on the grants they give and some information about groups in the city.  The grants data is very illuminating, showing who received the grant, what for and how much.

left hand side of the MACC grants spreadsheet
left hand side of the MACC grants spreadsheet

The image below of from one of the the spreadsheets on groups – showing how many member groups serve different parts of the city. I’ve added a very brief explanation of the GSS code and the GNS code. These help you when adding the information to a map.

what is the difference betyween GSS and ONS geographical data
MACC open data spreadsheet on groups.


The data comes in spreadsheet files which are  .ods format.  This is an open format  and can be opened with microsoft excel or open source software like open office (which is free, open source software and works much like microsoft office).   If you use an Apple Mac computer you’ll need to download an install open office to read the file.

MACC have  written a policy on open data (opens as a pdf)  – which is useful and practical for any vol sector organisation planning to follow in their footsteps.

Created under the Open Government License
Created under the Open Government License


Some links on open data, government and charities – Jan 2015

(First published here)

The BBC Reports that ”

The UK government is the most open and transparent in the world, according to global rankings looking at public access to official data.

But web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, whose organisation compiled the table, says the country has “a long way to go” before it has a fully open government

UK addresses as open data:  the “UK’s first open and free address list launches”:

Voluntary sector and open data.

David Kane from NCVO writes:

My aim as a member of ODUG is to represent the needs of the voluntary sector – but to do that I need your help. I’d love to hear your open data issues – are there datasets that government produce that would help you but which you can’t get hold of at the moment?

A great place to start is the data requests process on This is where you can request access to datasets that aren’t currently open – they’ll be looked into by the team at the Cabinet Office and ODUG will also keep an eye on the process. You can also get in touch with me directly if you have any questions or comments about open data.

Something that ODUG members have been working hard on recently is a response to the government’s proposals for a National Information Infrastructure (NII). This ODUG paper published today sets out what we believe a National Information Infrastructure should look like, and how it is as important for the country as a physical infrastructure such as Crossrail.

see more




Social Media Surgeries for data and open data skills.

Could your community group or charity be more effective if you collected information in different ways, used it better, shared it with the right people?  Would it help if you could more easily find information that government has about the places  or perhaps the people you are trying to help?

We are experimenting in Birmingham with how we can use the social media surgeries to share not just social media skills with local community groups and charities, but also data skills.

If you want a chat – even to find out what we mean – please click the links below for anyone of the surgeries for the following areas and sign up…

Central Birmingham Social Media

Moseley and Kings Heath Social Media Surgery

Kings Norton Social Media Surgery

What should I expect?

As always we start with you and your group.  What are you trying to achieve? What skills and tools do you have at the moment?  Can we show you new ideas that could help you achieve more? Can we help you in practical ways use those skills and tools – there and then? Always the same relaxed approach of a social media surgery.

What’s your aim?

Our ultimate aim is to encourage more community groups and local charities to find good uses for Open data.  This is numerical information that government shares in public.  so we can have a better understanding of the places we live in and the way government works.  But we won’t throw you into anything difficult, we’ll start where you are and help you with the numbers and skills that matter to you.

Is there any information online?

As we work with people we’ll learn together how to solve problems. We’ll describe what we’re doing and share it here on the blog.  We will also be writing about things that might help you, tools, sites where data is stored, examples from other organisations.

I have no idea what you mean when you say open data!

Sorry – it is jargony.  Open government data is when government shares information on the internet that it owns  and grants you and I permission to use it (using an open government license) A simple example is local government releasing a monthly list of all spending over £500.  You can find the Birmingham one here.  But don’t be phased by any of this – we want to help you develop the understanding and skills that might be useful for what you are trying to achieve.