Leeds Older People’s Forum (LOPF) and 100% Digital Leeds have been awarded DCMS funding to deliver a partnership project addressing and improving media literacy for older people from diverse communities. The project will tackle challenges set out in the DCMS Online Media Literacy Strategy and the tools and resources produced will be shared nationally in partnership with Ofcom.
This community-based media literacy project will build upon the understanding, experiences, and existing trusted relationships of four key partners working in the 10% most deprived areas of the city. The partners were chosen because of their recognised holistic, person-centred approach to meeting the needs of their communities.
The project delivery partners are:
- Health for All
- Feel Good Factor
- Leeds Irish Health and Homes
The project will overcome the digital inclusion barriers older people in diverse communities face to accessing media literacy, enabling them to positively interact online:
- building digital confidence and skills.
- supporting online safety and reducing fear.
- developing an understanding of what is available online across different media.
We will be working with the National Media Literacy Taskforce and national mentors to deliver and evaluate the project, alongside the three other DCMS funded projects across the country.
LOPF, 100% Digital Leeds, and the Be Online Stay Safe (BOSS) delivery partners will focus on achieving the following objectives:
- supporting older people to develop an understanding of how the online environment operates.
- building older people’s resilience to online disinformation and misinformation.
- supporting older people to develop an understanding of the risks and benefits of engaging with others online
- supporting older people to increase their digital skills and confidence in using and navigating the online world.
There will be a focus on working with older people who currently aren’t online because of their lack of confidence, to inform them and support them to overcome these barriers. An additional focus will be on supporting older people who currently use digital and are online but may not be aware of how to stay safe, may be more vulnerable to online scams, or are at risk of accessing incorrect information.
The voice of older people at the heart of the project
LOPF conducted an initial consultation with partners to develop BOSS. This highlighted a need for people to develop their digital skills in their native language and learn how to use their devices in different languages. Speaking to those lacking in digital confidence identified fear of online scams, unfamiliarity with the digital world and online media, embarrassment in asking for help, low literacy levels, and undiagnosed learning needs.
There is an identified need for a diverse, informal learning offer and a range of tools and resources to enable older people to feel safe and confident online. Skills such as recognising if a website is safe, understanding why companies collect personal data, buying online safely, and understanding how to manage their own presence online were seen as key.
A steering group made up of organisations and older people will be formed to support the sharing of best practice, overcoming challenges, and increasing collaborative working.
The project will be coproduced with older people and take a test-learn-develop ethos. We will identify the best interventions, resources, and approach to take when supporting older people to develop their media literacy skills, enabling them to feel confident, and stay safe online.
Older people will be able to share insights about their experiences, feedback on the approaches and feed into the development of the resources relevant for other service users.
Building community capacity to deliver digital inclusion for improved media literacy
LOPF has employed a Digital Inclusion Coordinator who will work closely with the 100% Digital Leeds team to align the project with the 100% Digital Leeds approach, working to ensure everyone in Leeds has equal opportunity to use digital tools, technology, and services in the right way for them.
The Digital Inclusion Coordinator will build community capacity and upskill the workforce of partner organisations to increase media literacy across the diverse communities of older people they support. They will work closely with all partner organisations to co-produce interventions that meet the needs of communities, break down barriers, and increase digital access, skills, confidence, and motivation.
The DCMS funding will also address connectivity barriers by increasing the amount of digital equipment available via partners, enabling older people to have greater access to devices and the internet. Partners will join the National Databank allowing them to gift free data to their communities, and supporting the development of device lending and gifting schemes.
The project will develop peer-support models to enable people with lived experience to share their learning and support others, bridging gaps where language and literacy are the main barriers. Developing bi-lingual resources will further increase accessibility to digital learning and development. Digital skills sessions will be delivered in a variety of ways to meet the individual needs of the communities: one-to-one, group sessions, online and hybrid, and in learners’ homes.
The project will have a robust evaluation and be internally and externally evaluated using a theory of change model. A variety of evaluation tools will be used such as case studies, session attendance figures, skills assessments and focus groups. Two learning reports will be produced at mid and end points of the project.
Learning resources will be developed and disseminated via the Older People’s Digital Inclusion network, LOPF, 100% Digital Leeds website and social media.
The Digital Inclusion Coordinator is in post at LOPF. The next steering group meeting will take place in February to bring all delivery partners together to map out the timeline for the project for the rest of the year and identify support needed, gaps in resource, and how best the funding can be used to have maximum impact for communities.