In July 2023 100% Digital Leeds appointed a Digital Inclusion Officer to build community capacity to support digital inclusion for improved health participation in the Woodsley and Holt Park Local Care Partnership (LCP) area, with the support of NHS Health Inequalities funding.
The role is hosted by Better Leeds Communities (BLC), and matrix managed by 100% Digital Leeds, using our community-based approach to improve and increase digital inclusion support to meet the needs of the local residents. The Digital Inclusion Officer has been working with 15 community organisations in the area, facilitating the development and delivery of sustainable digital inclusion support.
Taking a test and learn approach to support embedded digital inclusion
The Digital Inclusion Officer has been working with the Cardigan Community Centre, Older Wiser Local Seniors (OWLS), Kirkstall Valley Development Trust (KVDT), Supporting the Elderly People (STEP), and St Paul’s Ireland Wood, to enable a digital presence within their existing activities such as warm spaces, food hubs, arts and crafts sessions, social groups, and community cafes. The Digital Inclusion Officer has also supported the training and development of partners’ volunteers, building capacity and enabling the development of volunteer-led digital inclusion support across the area.
These pilot initiatives will be used to better understand the digital needs of the community and enable further digital participation, and engagement.
“Having the input of a Digital Inclusion Officer to offer guidance on how best to support our IT volunteers, providing information about training opportunities, and offering signposting on resources to support the older people who attend our sessions, has been crucial in enabling us to keep our digital support program running. After they linked us up with Leeds Libraries we have been able to borrow iPads with inbuilt connectivity so that we can better support our members who do not own their own computer or wifi. We have also been offered guidance on funding opportunities and how we can link up with other organisations to make the most of our digital offer.Jenny Oates, Community Outreach Worker, OWLS
Increased digital inclusion support at Better Leeds Communities
Working closely with Better Leeds Communities BLC, the Digital Inclusion Officer has supported capacity building through the recruitment of volunteers. She has utilised existing resources such as borrowing iPads from Leeds Libraries to use with learners, and working in partnership with Worker’s Educational Association (WEA) to deliver a seven-week digital skills course.
There are plans to develop regular digital drop-ins that will allow community members to get support with digital needs such as managing Universal Credit journal, registering on the NHS app, sending emails, staying in contact with family and friends, browsing the web, using music applications, online shopping, online resources for children, and games. These sessions are scheduled to begin once the WEA Digital Skills course finishes in November.
“Since having a Digital Inclusion Officer join the organisation our awareness and understanding of how we can increase our digital inclusion work has started to embed into our everyday thinking. This is through the conversations and focused work we’ve done together and her ability to really appreciate and recognise the areas of opportunity for our strands of work to come together. We are looking forward to seeing our plans come to fruition with the confidence that we are supported by her skills and knowledge.”Mel Thomas, Community Project Manager, Better Leeds Communities
Increasing digital inclusion support at Barca
The Digital Inclusion Officer has been supporting Barca to increase uptake of Men’s Health Unlocked, a programme that offers one-to-one digital skills support and connectivity to socially isolated men. She has also been working with Barca to explore funding opportunities to increase their digital offer.
“Having the support of a Digital Inclusion Officer has greatly benefitted Barca. She has been able to signpost users to the services we provide, she is knowledgeable about all things digital going on in the local community, and she is extremely helpful, kind, and approachable, which makes her a pleasure to work with. Our partnership has only begun, and we have only scratched the surface on what we can do and achieve in the future”.Salim Khan, Digital Inclusion Officer, Barca
Sharing learning and resources with organisations working across the area
There are many digital inclusion initiatives taking place across the Woodsley and Holt Park area looking to engage people that are digitally excluded. The Digital Inclusion Officer is keen to share existing resources among partners to facilitate partnership working and enabling wider community participation. This is currently shared via email fortnightly on Fridays and during Local Care Partnership (LCP) meetings.
If you would like to discuss enhancing your organisation’s digital inclusion offer and feel you would benefit from support, then please contact Ayisha Hameed at email@example.com