Leeds is one of nine councils awarded funding as part of the Local Government Association (LGA) Digital Pathfinders Programme, designed to support councils seeking to innovate and develop pioneering initiatives to advance digital inclusion, digital connectivity, and cyber security. 100% Digital Leeds have been funded to develop a Community-based Model to Increase Digital Inclusion and run a series of related workshops with five councils selected by LGA. Interested parties can follow our progress on the project Miro board and we’ll publish an update blog after each workshop. The resulting model will be published and launched in December this year.
Workshop one: Focus and partnerships
Workshop one took place in mid-April. As well as starting to get to know the partnering councils and understand their digital inclusion journey so far, the first workshop was an opportunity to break down the first stage of the model.
Stage one – Focus and partnerships – has the following steps:
- Understanding the concept of a community-based approach to digital inclusion
- Identifying the target community
- Identifying key partners
- Engaging key partners and keeping them engaged
Initial feedback on stage one from partnering councils was positive. Workshop attendees identified the concept of working in partnership with the voluntary sector as a good fit and appreciated the focus on practical solutions in relation to existing work. When writing the model, the 100% Digital Leeds team recognised that in comparison to many other councils across the UK, we have a well-established and resourced team. Capacity could be a potential barrier to other councils taking on the community-based model.
These concerns were mirrored by the partnering councils, with key issues being identified as:
- Challenges with capacity for those with small teams, or without a team
- The scope of the digital inclusion challenge and knowing where to start
- Lack of funding and resource to support the development of digital inclusion initiatives
- The need for a compelling offer to engage organisations with limited capacity
These are all issues that are addressed in the model but it’s clear that we need to put more focus on highlighting practical solutions in the final published version.