How can charities provide digital inclusion support?

Good Things Foundation recently delivered a workshop on digital inclusion for the Deloitte Digital Connect programme. Here, they share six top tips.

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The digitisation of services is leaving people behind: how can the charity sector help?

Here we provide some ideas about how charities can provide digital inclusion support.

The pandemic has demonstrated how embedded in our lives digital technology has become. During the lockdowns many of us relied on it to connect with friends and family, keep working and to stay up to date.  We also saw the rapid digitisation of services, including in the charity sector.

Yet ten million adults in the UK do not have the most basic digital skills. Many cannot afford broadband or data to go online. This is getting worse with the cost of living crisis.

The result is millions of people cannot access vital services and support. 

At Good Things Foundation we provide services and resources that organisations can use to help people get online.

Here are six tips for starting to embed digital inclusion into your work:

1. Make it a strategic priority: digital inclusion needs to be a strategic priority so that it becomes everyone’s shared responsibility. Staff and volunteers may need training to provide support as part of their role. 

2. Find the hook: it is important to understand clients’ individual needs and motivation. There is no one size fits all to support. If people love cooking, support them to look at recipes online. Do you have a walking group? Plan the routes online. Do you have social groups? Introduce games on tablets to support the development of basic skills. Get creative!

3. Provide an informal learning environment: many people who do not have basic digital skills had a poor experience of school and feel learning is not for them. What’s more, the word ‘digital’ can be off-putting. It’s important to find ways of introducing digital technology that are relevant and enable individuals to meet their own goals. This often requires a one-to-one approach. Digital Champion volunteers can be a great asset in helping to provide support. Can you train your existing volunteers to be Digital Champions too?

4. Make use of existing resources: there are lots of resources available to support the development of basic digital skills, including Good Things Foundation’s Learn My Way platform or Age UK’s step-by-step guides Making the most of the internet

5. Work in partnership: partnerships with other organisations can really help with sharing resources, expertise or referrals. There may be other local organisations already delivering digital inclusion support that you can work with. Good Things Foundation’s network membership map may help you to find others in your area. Is there a local digital inclusion network? If one doesn’t already exist and you want to start one, you could try speaking to your local CVS or Voluntary Action organisation and find out what your local authority is doing to address digital exclusion.

6. Define what success looks like and measure it: it’s important to define success from the start with the understanding that everyone’s digital inclusion journey is different. 

Resources to help

  • Once a member of our network you can apply to provide free data to people experiencing data poverty through The National Databank.

Text by Isobel Thomas, Head of Community Engagement & Experience at Good Things Foundation

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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