Experiencing our highest ever usage rates during the pandemic made it an even harder decision to make. But the team of volunteers who coordinate and maintain the Hub was unanimous that now is the time to move on.
The Hub was a radical innovation when it was introduced in 2012. Instead of relying on a central webmaster to determine what information gets posted, the Hub allowed organisations to post their own information directly. It overcame many of the limitations of traditional community websites which typically only survived 2-3 years.
We built a community of some 4,000 regular users. More people went to village functions, more people joined clubs and societies, and people were better informed about the events shaping our village. The Hub was popular far beyond our parish boundaries, with relatives, friends and expats as far away as Canada, South Africa and New Zealand following the news about Henfield.
This novel concept of community engagement won support from WSCC and a national award for Henfield. The village gained prestige, credibility and a resource which helped us to progress numerous community projects, not least the creation of the Henfield Haven.
But technology and the way we use the web has moved on since the Hub was launched. Over 60% of Hub users now access the website on their mobiles or tablets. It’s amazing to think that the iPhone was only invented in 2007 and was still a little-known novelty when the Hub was developed. Back then, you needed to be a computer coder to build a website: now, anyone can do it and there are hundreds around Henfield. Even individuals can post and share information online through Facebook and other social media.
So the need for the Hub has lessened. All good things must come to an end and it is time for us to move on. The team has therefore decided to implement a phased shut-down of the Henfield Hub and its associated social media accounts. We are acutely aware that the loss of the village website will have some very sad consequences and we wish to do all that we can to make its closure as painless as possible and to ensure that adequate replacements have been put in place. The Hub will continue to operate normally until 31st December 2020.
Our achievements will remain. The Hub leaves a legacy of thousands of stories and pictures of Henfield from the last decade. We intend to archive the Hub's content as a vital community resource. Over the next few weeks we will be featuring some of the highlights to remind you of how successful Henfield has been in the decade of the Henfield Hub.