Digital Inclusion Network 23 May 2024

We enjoyed a wonderful meeting on May 23, where we caught up with members to hear the latest exciting news as well as positive developments on current projects.

Co-host, Will Plant – Digital Inclusion Lead at Cambridgeshire County Council, provided an update on Connecting Cambridgeshire‘s work.

Thank you all for attending!

Our Chair, Sally Page, Deputy CEO of CCVS, began the session by sharing some quick updates:

Will Plant – Digital Inclusion Lead at Cambridgeshire County Council.

Will explained that Connecting Cambridgeshire is a regional connectivity infrastructure programme, hosted by Cambridgeshire County Council and funded by the Combined Authority. He is leading on Digital Inclusion.

Will stated that there’s some brilliant work going on around the county but still some gaps in provision of digital inclusion support, and that some of the organisations providing support still don’t have enough resources.

He shared that Connecting Cambridgeshire were launching a new Digital Inclusion Delivery Plan on Thursday 30 May at Huntingdon Library. Here, they will set out key principles and ambitions of what they would like to achieve.

The event will also include presentations from other organisations to share their work on digital inclusion.

You can find out more about the Plan here: Digital Inclusion Delivery Plan for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to combat digital exclusion – Connecting Cambridgeshire

He welcomed any feedback and ideas from the group regarding the Delivery Plan.

Will stated that it’s all about partnership working and collaboration. He was interested in working with everyone across Cambridgeshire – hearing from residents and their experiences, all the way to connecting with the large tech firms in Cambridge to see what benefits they can bring.

He told the group that there will soon be some research undertaken into the most digitally excluded residents to understand their motivations, behaviours and attitudes around digital. He will deliver the findings and recommendations on what might be a useful behaviour change of approach to reduce the level of exclusion.

Will said that he knows if we force people into digital, we will just experience more resentment. He would like to work with people to try and make digital accessible in a way that is tailored to their needs, so they can see the benefit.

The Delivery Plan will run until the end of 2025.

Will also provided an update on the public telephone network switch off. BT have delayed this until 31 January 2027. Digital Champions need to help vulnerable residents with the switch over. People using the Telecare services are particularly apprehensive, so they need our support.

You can find out more on their website: The Digital Switchover – Connecting Cambridgeshire

Will welcomed hearing experiences of people who have made the switch over, both positive and negative.

[email protected]

Dr Joyce Coker – Research Associate at Cambridge Public Health

Joyce shared that Cambridge Public Health are running a project to try and understand the way community organisations use digital technology and the impact of digital on people’s mental health.

They want to focus on the impact of switching to digital – on wellbeing, social isolation and loneliness.

Who does digital work for? How does it work? Under what circumstances? What isn’t working?

The project is run by Cambridge University, Imperial College London and Newcastle University.

It’s running across the country, and they are interviewing people from community organisations who use digital technology. Everyone that takes part gets reimbursed £200.

They will send out surveys and at the end of this year, they should be able to share some findings.

Find out more here: Leveraging learning from COVID-19 adaptations to maximise the use of community digital assets and virtual spaces among marginalised populations – NIHR School for Public Health ResearchNIHR SPHR

Catherine Sharman – Senior Partnership Manager at Reed in Partnership

Catherine works within employability and helps people get back into work. She has direct referrals from the Job Centre, and helps people who are digitally excluded. Reed are Databank Partners and can also hand out SIMs and supply devices.

They have a ‘Midlife MOT’ pilot that targets older people in work and is based around 3 pillars: wealth, wellbeing and work.

Reed meet many jobseekers who are digitally excluded that need help. Catherine said she joined this group to find more organisations who are helping people with this sort of digital support.

Home | Restart Scheme (reedrestart.co.uk)

Rosie Veitch – Library Development Officer at Cambridgeshire Libraries

Rosie mentioned that 11 Cambridgeshire Libraries are members of the National Databank. They’ve helped over 1,000 residents!

They loan laptops and tablets, and have MiFi devices, so can loan data as well as gift data.

They are working with the Good Things foundation to see if they can make use of their Databank.

Rosie also said she was concerned about people missing out on voting in the General Election. You need to register to vote and have voter ID, and this is done online. Rosie was worried that we only have a few weeks to help people that aren’t connected and/or have the digital skills.

LendIT collection – borrow laptops and tablets free of charge | Cambridgeshire County Council

Kate Holmes – Engagement and Networking Officer at Digital Unite

It was Kate’s first time at the meeting, so great to meet her. Kate said that Digital Unite is a social enterprise. They have a free digital inclusion planner and a free online safety course. They also have free technology guides that can be found on their website that cover all aspects of digital.

The CEO, Emma Watson, has published a manifesto around digital inclusion.

Our Manifesto: digital inclusion is everyone’s business | Digital Unit

Denise Coates – Partnership Manager at Sustainable Tech4Good

Denise said how much she and founder, Sue Gowling, appreciated the network and the partnerships they have formed.

They have currently helped Cambridgeshire charities with over 1,000 devices!

At the end of the meeting, Sally shared a vacancy for digital inclusion charity, Cambridge Online, they were advertising for a CEO.

Sally also welcomed ideas for Get Online Week in October, and asked if members would like an in-person event during this time. This could be a workshop or a networking event.

If you have any ideas or suggestions, please email: [email protected]

It was brilliant to see connections being made, and again the online chat was very busy.

If you would like to join us at our next meeting please book here: Digital Inclusion Network Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite

If you’re interested in digital inclusion in Cambridgeshire – we would love to see you there!

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