20 October 2015

Helping to improve online skills for residents

Brighton & Hove is one of four local authorities chosen to be part of a new project to help reduce the number of people without basic digital skills.

Figures show 10.5 million people in the UK lack the skills to access many key online services. This includes 49 per cent of disabled people and 42 per cent of people with a household income of less than £12,500 a year who do not use the Internet.

The new One Digital initiative looks at ways of encouraging people to find out about what is available so they can see the benefits of accessing essential online services, searching and applying for jobs and staying in touch with friends and family.

With £2 million from the Big Lottery Fund, One Digital aims to recruit more than 1,400 digital champions nationally within disability, youth and support organisations. The champions will be trained on how to engage with people who are not online and provide personal long-term support as they gain new skills.

Cllr Emma Daniel, lead councillor for Communities, Neighbourhoods and Equalities, said: “This is a practical and supportive way to help reduce inequalities across the city. By identifying people and communities where fewer residents have access to the Internet, we can make sure the help offered is relevant so there is a better chance of long term success. This is not just for first time users but can also help those with very little knowledge who need to gain confidence to make the most of being online.  It is important to remember for all those people with mobile devices and constant connectivity to the Internet, there are others cut off from the benefits of modern technology and we need help everyone to have equal access.”

One Digital is organised by a range of partners, each of whom will run varied projects to try to reach out to all the different groups of people who are experiencing digital exclusion. The partners are Digital Unite, Age UK, Citizens Online and SVCO.

The lead partnership organisation for One Digital in Brighton & Hove is Citizens Online. Working with funding partner BT and representatives from Brighton & Hove City Council, Citizens Online will be training, recruiting and co-ordinating local “digital champions”. The project will form what is being called a “Digital Resilience Partnership” in the city, linking those with the ability to assist learning with those in need of support. Currently at the early stages of development, the partnership is due to begin offering support activities by the end of the year.

More information:

One Digital

One Digital is national project being led by a group of organisations working together to counter digital exclusion. The four locations chosen for by Citizens Online for the Digital Resilience Partnership initiative are Brighton & Hove, Gwynedd, Plymouth and the Scottish Highlands.

The Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40 per cent of the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes and invests over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes. The Big Lottery Fund has contributed £466,981 to Citizens Online for this project.

Citizens Online

Citizens Online is a national charity that was set up to tackle the issues of digital exclusion, to make sure that the Internet is available to everybody and to help individuals and communities understand and gain the benefits of being online