Digital Trustees

Leeds Digital Volunteering Partnership is partnering with Third Sector Lab to pilot their Digital Trustees model in Leeds. Third Sector Lab is hosting an online matchmaking event to connect charities and professionals from tech, data, design, IT and other digital backgrounds.

The event will take place online on Thursday 28 March, 10.00am – 11.30am. For more details and to book your place, visit the Third Sector Lab website.

In today’s digital age, charities face new challenges and opportunities that require them to adapt to the changing landscape of technology. According to the 2023 Charity Digital Skills Report 78% of charities say digital is now more of a priority and 66% are interested in making use of emerging technology. However, 73% say they don’t feel prepared to respond to the opportunities and challenges it brings, with fewer than half having a strategy to focus their approach to digital transformation.

Charities that recruit volunteers with digital skills to their Board of Trustees can tap into their expertise to develop effective digital strategies, enhance their digital presence, and ultimately achieve their goals more efficiently. Volunteering to support a charity as a Digital Trustee helps individuals develop their leadership skills, make a real impact on the future of a cause they care about, and feel connected to the city.

What is a ‘Digital Trustee’?

Most charities are led by a Board of Trustees. A Board of Trustees primarily operates in an advisory capacity leaving decision-making to the charity’s senior leadership. A Trustee is an unpaid position, with the individual giving their time on a voluntary basis.

Digital Trustees are individuals with experience in digital, data or design who volunteer their time to sit on the Board of a charity and offer their expertise to help charities improve their digital strategy and capabilities. They provide guidance to the organisation around how they can best make use of digital as well as insight into best digital practices, helping the charity adapt to the changing landscape of technology.

Digital Trusteeships create a more permanent and long standing relationship between charities and individuals from the tech sector. The Trustee is able to gain a better understanding of the needs of the charity as well as gaining a strong grounding in strategic oversight, supporting their personal development. Having a Digital Trustee on their Board means charities have a trusted tech champion to help them find digital solutions that truly work for them and their beneficiaries.

Joining a charity’s Board as a Digital Trustee can help an individual:

  • Build their leadership skills and expertise.
  • Learn from a diverse range of fellow board members.
  • Make a real impact on the future of a cause they care about. 

Recruiting a Digital Trustee to their Board can help a charity:

  • Get expertise to support long-term direction and strategy.
  • Empower the rest of the board to understand the potential of digital.
  • Give the charity a competitive advantage when it comes to data, design and technology.

Almost anyone can be a Trustee, regardless of how junior or senior they are in their career, and regardless of their ethnicity, class, gender orientation, sexuality or any other difference. Charity Boards thrive when they have a diversity of skills, knowledge, age and experience on their board. There are a small number of circumstances in which individuals are not eligible to be a Trustee. You can find more information on the Voluntary Action Leeds website.

Digital Trustee Matchmaking Event with Third Sector Lab

Leeds Digital Volunteering Partnership and Third Sector Lab are hosting an online matchmaking event to connect charities and professionals from tech, data, design, IT and other digital backgrounds. 

The event will take place online on Thursday 28 March, 10.00am – 11.30am. Places are free to both charities looking to recruit a Digital Trustee and individuals looking to volunteer to join a charity Board as a Digital Trustee. Book your place at the Third Sector Lab website.

The session will include an introduction by the founder of Third Sector Lab, Ross McCulloch. This will be followed by a series of rotating breakout rooms to let participants meet in smaller groups. The session is not exclusive to Leeds-based charities and prospective Digital Trustees, but some of the spaces have been ring fenced for Leeds.

Before attending the session, both charities looking to recruit a Digital Trustee and individuals looking to volunteer to join a charity Board as a Digital Trustee are asked to please complete a profile on the Third Sector Lab website so that organisations or potential trustees can get in contact after the event. 

Leeds Digital Volunteering Partnership

Leeds Digital Volunteering Partnership (LDVP) is made up of representatives from 100% Digital Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation, Voluntary Action Leeds, and the city’s tech sector. LDVP fosters cross-sector partnerships that help the city’s third sector organisations benefit from the digital skills and capacity of the tech sector, and to enable tech businesses and their employees to gain new skills, experience, and a sense of community through work with not-for-profit organisations. Find out more about 100% Digital Leeds’s work with the city’s tech sector.

Multiply

100% Digital Leeds is working with Leeds City Council’s Employment and Skills team and third sector partners to support communities hit hardest by the cost of living crisis. ‘Multiply’ is a government-funded scheme to improve adult functional numeracy skills. To date, 15 third sector deliver partners have received funding to support over 420 learners to improve their financial resilience. In addition, each learner has been gifted a digital device with connectivity and supported to develop the digital skills and confidence they need to make best use of digital and the internet to manage their money.

Supporting digital inclusion and financial resilience for those hit hardest by the cost of living crisis

Multiply is an adult maths support programme, which is part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund’s Levelling Up programme. The Multiply programme aims to boosts people’s ability to use maths in their daily life, both at home and work. The Leeds City Council scheme is managed by the Employment and Skills team.

100% Digital Leeds has worked with Employment and Skills to award grants to trusted third sector delivery partners working with communities who are most likely to be digitally excluded, feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis, and facing barriers to accessing learning in a more formal or traditional setting. Those supported include people on low incomes, people with learning disabilities, people with mental health needs, refugees and asylum seekers, and older people.

100% Digital Leeds Multiply delivery partners:

The delivery partners have used the funding to create courses with content tailored to meet the specific needs of the communities they work with and within, aimed at those hit hardest by the cost of living crisis. Course content covers numeracy skills for improved financial resilience, such as household budgeting, price comparisons, online selling, and self-employment. Each organisation has also used their funding to purchase and gift each learner a new digital device such as a smart phone, tablet, or smart speaker, along with two years of connectivity. Learners are supported to develop the digital skills and confidence they need to make best use of their new digital device to save and manage their money.

Case study: Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours

Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours Scheme is a charity in Cross Gates that works with older people to reduce loneliness and isolation, and to support independence. The organisation also manages Cross Gates and Whinmoor Community Hub, based at Cross Gates Shopping Centre. The Hub provides support, advice, and information for people of any age in the local community.

Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours designed their Multiply course to meet the needs of the local community. They identified learners through their Community Hub, a service the local community reach out to for one-to-one support when they’re struggling with money or are in a crisis situation.

“People often come into the Community Hub in a state of crisis, and we do our best to help them. We’ve got our food bank at the Community Hub and now we’re offering cost of living support sessions. Instead of just giving people a bag of food every week, we can support them to think about how they can save money by budgeting better.”

Jo Horsfall, CEO at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours designed the course to help people develop the skills they need to better manage their finances going forward. The course content includes:

  • Household budgeting.
  • Price comparisons and switching suppliers.
  • Affordable meal planning.
  • Maximising benefits.
  • Debt management.
  • ‘Needs’ versus ‘wants’.

Of the 28 learners supported in their first round of Multiply, 13 said they came away from the session having already saved money. Many more left with the skills and understanding needed to make changes that would help them save money going forward.

“In the older people’s arm of the organisation we’re doing a lot more referrals for Attendance Allowance and Pension Credits. We know that people aren’t claiming all the benefits they’re entitled to and are struggling as a result. One person we’ve helped was really struggling financially and didn’t realise he was entitled to Attendance Allowance. He’s now £600 a month better off.”

Jo Horsfall, CEO at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

“People were worried about things like changing their insurance. They were saying, ‘But this company’s been good, I don’t want to switch’ even though it’s gone up £300 pound every year. They didn’t realise how much money they could save until we showed them how to do price comparisons.”

Jo Horsfall, CEO at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours recognise that whilst some learners may want to share their personal experiences, others may not want to talk about their situation. So they used their knowledge of the local community to develop sessions discussing hypothetical situations likely to resonate with learners.

“We developed budgeting scenarios to get people thinking about the kind of things they spent the money on and looked at different ways money could be saved in each of the different situations. If people wanted to share their own situation they could, but if they didn’t, they could just talk about the worksheets.

Some of the scenarios were simple things that we take for granted. We talked about buying a sofa on credit and people didn’t realise that interest makes it more expensive than paying up front. Now people are saying if they need something like that, they’re going to save up for it, because they don’t want to be spending more money than they have to.”

Jo Horsfall, CEO at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours recognise that many of their service users lack confidence in their maths skills, do not have formal qualifications, and may not have had a positive experience of formal education. As a result, they are more likely to be apprehensive about attending a course focussed on maths. Because they have an existing trusted relationship with their service users Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours can take an active role in supporting and encouraging people to attend learning.

“Some people were nervous, like they were going into an exam. We had to give a lot of encouragement and support to come along, reassuring them it wasn’t a test, and we were all going to be working together. We rang people the day before to remind them it was going to be fine, and they should come down.

Some were really anxious. One lady said she’d been up all night worrying that she wasn’t going to be able to do it and she’d let people down. People were worried they were going to be stepping into a classroom after a long time out of education, so holding the sessions at the Community Hub, a space that that they had been to before for support, made a lot of difference.”

Jo Horsfall, CEO at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

“Some of the older people don’t have any formal qualifications and a lot of them have never had to manage money. Some of the ladies that came, their husbands had always done it and they’ve literally just been given some money for housekeeping. Then the husband had died and they’re left in situations where they didn’t really understand money management, so if they don’t have a family member who can help, they really struggle.”

Jo Horsfall, CEO at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

Those struggling with the cost of living are also those most likely to be digitally excluded as they find the cost of a digital device and connectivity prohibitive. Lack of access to equipment has stopped many people from engaging with digital, and being able to gift devices to those who have not been able to afford them has meant Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours have seen increased demand for digital skills support from those who have taken part in Multiply.

“I think the tablet and the data was a really good incentive and I think some of our learners probably wouldn’t have come without that. We’ve targeted people who didn’t have a device or couldn’t afford the internet. It’s led to more requests for one-to-one digital support because people have got the equipment and have started to understand some of the benefits of being online. So it’s more work for us, but the people are benefitting and that’s what we’re here for.”

Jo Horsfall, CEO at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

Receiving funding to deliver Multiply has helped Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours better understand how to support people struggling with the cost of living going forward. They’ve since received different funding to do more cost of living workshops which have been well attended by people of all ages from the local community. The sessions help people to manage their day-to-day living costs and lower their bills. Attendees look at their spending, are advised on where they could save, and then they each complete a personalised action plan to manage their money better.

“Multiply has been a first step to supporting us to really be able to help people struggling with the cost of living crisis. It gave us the capacity to spend more time with people to really understand their situations and help them with the root cause. The funding has made a big impact because when somebody comes in with a problem you’ve only got so much time to help them, then there’s somebody sat waiting. These sessions allowed us to give people a block of time in a relaxed environment.”

Jo Horsfall, CEO at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours learner case study: Hilary

Hilary is 72 years old and has struggled with budgeting all her life. She had lost a lot of her confidence and was worrying about making decisions to save and manage money, especially since all of her children had now moved out. Hilary was used to having her family to support her financially and to take control of ensuring everything was paid, but her 30-year-old daughter has just left home.

The budgeting skills and personal plan really helped Hilary put things in perspective and made her feel like she could cope by recording and keeping a track on her income and her outgoings. She even realised that she could save money on her broadband, something that is very important to her as it is a good way for her to communicate with her family, now that they don’t live at home.

By taking part in Multiply Hilary and another lady that attended the course have found out you can buy a monthly cinema ticket for just £15. They are now going to the cinema together a couple of times a week because they like watching films, being in company, and it’s also warm so they’ve saved money on their heating bills.

‘’I’ve always loved the cinema but couldn’t always afford it, this is perfect, and I have some company too’’.

Hilary, Multiply learner at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours learner case study: Chloe

Chloe is a 20-year-old single mum who is struggling on a low income. She does want to get back into employment or further education but has a 7-month-old baby. She doesn’t drive and childcare cost are high. Chloe recently moved to a house that is out of the area as she was unable to find anywhere close to family and friends. She is more isolated as a result. This is the first time that Chloe has lived on her own, so she is learning how to budget and pay bills. Chloe found the budgeting scenarios of the Multiply course especially useful as she was unaware that if you bought something and paid weekly it would cost you more.

The tablet with data that Chloe received by attending the Multiply course has meant that she can better connect with the outside world. She is currently searching for part-time work or further education or training courses that she can fit in around the baby and care needs.

Chloe gained a lot from the Multiply course and will put all the budgeting tips and skills to use. She is going to try save a little each week for anything that she may need for the baby, herself, or her first home.

“It was good to have a day off from been a mum. I enjoyed it and feel more confident that I can deal with managing and working out money now. I can now do percentages, which is something I struggled with at school.”

Chloe, Multiply Learner at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours.

Lippy People and digital storytelling

Lippy People is an advocacy charity that uses video storytelling to help people to share their often challenging lived experiences with a wider audience. They help people use their experiences as a foundation for building their skills and resilience to affect positive personal and social change. Lippy People have worked with 100% Digital Leeds to embed digital inclusion support within their Life, Loss, Learning, Legacy (4Ls) project, working with people with learning disabilities.

“A conversation with the 100% Digital Leeds team really showed us how important digital inclusion is for people who have the potential to be socially isolated. We are thrilled that only a few simple tweaks have allowed us to make a difference in such an important area. It is great to see how our members are using their new skills to take ownership of their own work.”

Peter Townson, Learning and Development Manager, Lippy People.

Life, Loss, Learning, Legacy

Life, Loss, Learning, Legacy (4Ls) is a 12-week, peer-led storytelling and coaching service which supports people to reduce the isolation they often feel as a result of significant life-changing experiences including bereavement, end of life or significant changes in their health. The groups meet every week to share stories and explore the positive learning and legacies they can positively build on from their lived experiences. 

Lippy People has worked with storytellers from the ages of 18 to 100 years old from a diverse range of backgrounds, including people with learning disabilities. They have co-produced and shared over 120 video stories on bereavement.  You can watch the videos on the Lippy People website.

‘She Was There For Me’ – Life, Loss, Learning, Legacy.

Embedding digital inclusion in their work

The skills that storytellers develop are those useful for life, as well as for future involvement in similar creative projects. When recording and editing, the video storytellers develop transferable skills such as learning how to use iPads and laptops, as well as scanners, cameras, and sound equipment.

“We frequently use digital equipment with people who are at risk of being digitally excluded. Talking to the 100% Digital Leeds team really illuminated how we could ensure that our members develop their digital skills as they work with us.”

Peter Townson, Learning and Development Manager, Lippy People.

Lippy People support storytellers to distribute their stories online through social media platforms, incorporating guidance on online safety. This ensures storytellers are empowered to share their stories as widely as possible and engage in powerful, self-led advocacy. 

During the latest 4Ls project, working with adults with learning disabilities, Lippy People borrowed eight iPads from Leeds Libraries so that storytellers could film and photograph each other throughout the group sessions. This was instrumental in gathering peer-led learning to be included in the project learning report, which aims to use video as an accessible and interactive way to outline project impacts and outcomes. 

The project was a huge success and storytellers expressed their excitement and gratitude at improving their digital storytelling skills. 

“I was looking forward to learning about video and also how to video and take photos when I’m at group events and activities and now I feel more confident to do that.”

Storyteller involved in Lippy People’s 4Ls project.

Next Steps

After trialling using iPads in project delivery, Lippy People are now hoping to secure funding for their own iPads to be used on every project, which will improve the digital inclusion aspect of all of their work. They are working closely with 100% Digital Leeds to identify and secure funding to support the purchase.

Lippy People regularly attend Autism and Learning Disabilities Digital Inclusion Network (ALaDDIN) meetings to network with partners, share good practice related to digital inclusion, find out about upcoming funding opportunities, and learn about assistive technologies which can help people with learning disabilities or physical disabilities to access the internet and to use technology in ways which are empowering and useful for them. 

Partner Profile: SLATE Leeds

SLATE Leeds provides essential work and training opportunities for adults with learning disabilities in Leeds. The organisation supports people with learning disabilities to gain essential skills which help them to move closer to employment, increase their confidence, improve their mental wellbeing, and reducing social isolation. 

SLATE works with 45 individuals with learning disabilities across Leeds, with furniture shops in Armley and Hunslet, and the Feel Good Café based in East Leeds.

SLATE recognises that providing greater digital access and support amongst members means that people with learning disabilities can become more independent, manage their finances, move closer to gaining employment, and participate more widely in the world. 100% Digital Leeds has supported SLATE to develop digital participation and inclusion within their day-to-day work in ways that meet their objectives and benefit their members.

Overcoming barriers to digital inclusion

Many people with learning disabilities face numerous barriers to gaining work experience and paid employment. Only 5.1% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work. These barriers vary widely but can range from struggling to understand inaccessible written information and instructions, to a lack of knowledge and expertise from employers, and a lack of appropriate support to gain or maintain employment.

SLATE aims to break down these barriers by offering holistic and person-centred support to their members. Their team of dedicated staff and volunteers work alongside people with learning disabilities to help them gain experience which matches their talents and interests, whether this is working in a people-facing role or working behind the scenes.

SLATE has developed a brilliant record of embedding digital activities in the work that they do with members. This gives members opportunities to learn digital skills which enable them to complete tasks independently, feel confident in the workplace, and stay in contact with family and friends. 

“Digital activities are such a big part of day-to-day life now: you need them to manage money, apply for a job, and travel independently. We help people with learning disabilities to gain digital skills so that they can be confident members of our society.”

Ann Wilson, Manager, SLATE Leeds

Digital tasks that SLATE members complete daily include checking prices of items online, doing basic calculations, and learning to use the touchscreen tills properly. By personalising digital activities to make them relevant to members and breaking the activities down into simple steps, staff and volunteers empower more reluctant members to engage with the digital world.

Supporting essential digital skills and confidence

The cost of living crisis has made life more challenging for everyone, but a Scope Disability Price Tag 2023 report explains how this has had a disproportionate impact upon disabled people and those with a learning disability. This group of people face additional challenges such as lower levels of employment and additional costs for essential specialist equipment. SLATE recognises these challenges and in 2023, they took part in the Multiply programme which focused upon improving their members’ digital skills while also helping them to improve their numeracy skills and to increase their financial resilience. As part of the programme members used digital devices to shop around for the best prices for everyday items, practiced budgeting skills, and searched the internet for useful money saving tips.

“I used to be a bit nervous to do digital activities but doing them with staff who know me well made me feel a lot more comfortable. I’ve learnt skills to use at work, but I feel happier going online at home now too.”

Member, SLATE Leeds

Supporting access to equipment and connectivity

Due to financial challenges, affording equipment and data can be a challenge for people with learning disabilities. Through the Multiply scheme, 25 SLATE members have received a device with 24 months’ worth of data on it which enables them to access the internet and stay in contact with their support networks, without concerns about mobile contracts or additional charges.

Volunteers and staff at SLATE have set up accessibility features on some of these devices so that they can be voice controlled by their owners. People with literacy issues are often unable to type questions into search engines and others may struggle to switch devices on by remembering the correct sequence of buttons and clicks. The right accessibility features means the digital world is made much more user-friendly for people with learning disabilities.

SLATE has also signed up to the National Databank, which allows them to give out a SIM card with six months’ worth of data on it to people who are living in data poverty. 

Expanding digital inclusion support

SLATE is continuing to work closely with 100% Digital Leeds to make their members more confident and bring digital skills to a wider audience. They have recently secured funding from Cognizant, a prestigious multinational IT services and consulting company, which has partnered with 100% Digital Leeds and Leeds Community Foundation to offer support and funding to five community organisations tackling digital inclusion in Leeds. 

SLATE will be using this opportunity to give their members additional training and person-centred support to use digital equipment in their shops. They also plan on creating at least one paid mentoring post for a person with a learning disability to digitally upskill their peers. 

Partner Profile: Refugee Education Training Advice Service (RETAS)

Refugee Education Training Advice Service (RETAS) offers essential support and guidance to refugees, people seeking asylum, and vulnerable migrants in West Yorkshire. The organisation supports the social, cultural, and economic integration of refugees, people seeking asylum, and migrants, as well as improving their wellbeing and reducing destitution. Based in the heart of Harehills, their impact on the communities they serve reaches far and wide. In 2022, a total of 4,800 people seeking asylum were supported in Leeds, and 79% of those were supported by RETAS.

People seeking asylum, refugees, and vulnerable migrants often have an array of intersecting barriers causing digital exclusion, which we know to be inseparable from other disparities in society. They face additional barriers to acquiring digital skills, like having limited English, meaning support needs to be tailored to meet communication preferences and specific needs. In addition, there are issues which have caused them to leave their countries of origin which require expert levels of knowledge, trust, and understanding before they begin to make progress in their online journey.

RETAS offers a range of services alongside digital inclusion, supporting service users’ holistic needs. Services include English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) sessions, wellbeing support through the Welcome to Leeds Project, housing workshops, and other initiatives based on the changing needs of their service users. The support they offer is holistic, ongoing, and adaptable, and those who have been in the country for many years still access their services.

Supporting access to equipment and connectivity

Most people that RETAS works with have limited funds and cannot afford equipment or sustained connectivity. The stress and uncertainty involved with asylum in the UK can be reduced by having access to information found online. As well as access to information, digital access and skills are tools for education, connection to family and friends, understanding their new environment, and improving wellbeing.

In December 2024, Biometric Residence Permit cards will be digitised, and the government plans to digitise the immigration system as much as it can. You can read more about these changes to Biometric Residence Permit cards here. This means it is more important than ever that people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants coming into this country have access to a device and a good internet connection.

Access to the internet is also essential to stay connected with family and friends in people’s home countries to improve wellbeing and support mental health. A survey by the Refugee Council found that 61% of people seeking asylum suffered from a serious mental health issue, and refugees are five times more likely to have mental health needs than the rest of the UK population. A report recently published by the Red Cross, Offline and Isolated, highlights the importance of internet access:

“Without internet at home, my situation would have been much more difficult, and I would have suffered… The internet has made my life better by allowing me to read new things. I can also send emails to my caseworker whenever I need them and call my friends through the internet.”

Participant from Jamaica, 56+ age group.

RETAS has an onsite IT suite with access to PCs, and those with a device but limited connectivity can use the building’s wifi. Those with no access to a device at home can borrow a tablet with 4G connectivity from RETAS, or can be referred to Solidaritech, an organisation that repurposes donated and laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones, passing them on to asylum seekers and refugees. RETAS is in the process of joining the National Databank and will soon be able to gift sim cards with free 4G data, calls, and texts, to service users experiencing data poverty.

Supporting essential digital skills and confidence

Essential services for those seeking asylum, as well as other vital services such as health, housing, and benefits take a digital first approach, which can be challenging for some refugees, people seeking asylum, and migrants when they need to find comprehensive information about particular issues, and then know how to address them successfully. RETAS provides digital skills support so that more people can independently access these online services.

Essential digital skills courses

RETAS offers an essential digital skills course that contains advice and guidance on common barriers which refugees, people seeking asylum, and migrants are often likely to face when going online, such as:

  • The confidence to interact with and use a digital device.
  • Managing files and folders to store documents and improve organisation.
  • Using the internet safely to avoid scams and understand how to protect your data.
  • Using email to contact support services, schools and colleges, and friends and family.

“Before completing the course, I had no digital skills, and needed help to understand how to use a computer, including how to use a keyboard. Now I can create documents and use shortcuts. I would now like to explore working in IT in the future.”

Service user, RETAS

One-to-one digital skills support

Alongside courses, RETAS offer one-to-one sessions, technical and non-technical, for specific queries after they speak to service users and identify their particular challenges, needs, and aspirations. Approximately 40 personalised tutorial sessions to support learners were recently delivered over a 12-week period. Learning outcomes from the one-to-one sessions ranged from registering on shopping websites, formatting CVs, and finding information about employment opportunities. Service users also used these sessions to make informed decisions when purchasing digital devices that were right for them.

“I previously relied on my daughter to support me with writing emails and communicating with my other children, but now I am able to do that myself.”

Service user, RETAS

For some low confidence learners, who would not have felt able to attend a groups session, the one-to-one sessions have been an opportunity to develop their digital skills in a less intimidating setting. This has resulting in them using their devices or the IT suite more regularly to address challenges or become more independent when dealing with issues. For more confident learners the one-to-one sessions have offered insight into job prospects in the tech sector.

“It has furthered people’s confidence as they practiced their skills in a more relaxed environment where learning was more personable. The sessions helped learners to better understand topics and ask questions.”

Digital Skills Tutor, RETAS

Expanding the digital inclusion support available

RETAS recently joined the list of Digital Health Hubs across the city. The organisation has also been awarded a grant from the Leeds Digital Inclusion Fund to continue the vital work they are already doing to upskill people in the community and expand their digital support offer to include topics such as:

  • Using NHS digital services.
  • Online banking.
  • Accessing online welfare and benefits services.
  • Finding employment online.

RETAS recognises that providing greater digital access and support amongst service users means that people can become more independent, as well as access services which can improve their wellbeing, help them understand their rights, and provide relevant information and opportunities.

Supporting older people’s digital confidence with University of Leeds’s Writing Back project

Writing Back is an intergenerational digital pen pal project which pairs students at the University of Leeds with older residents across Yorkshire to exchange emails. The scheme was established to help tackle loneliness and social isolation but organisations supporting older people have found involvement in the scheme supports members to develop transferable digital skills and confidence. Burmantofts Community Friends have partnered with the Writing Back team to connect six of their members with students for a year.  Engaging with the scheme has motivated members to build digital skills and confidence. 100% Digital Leeds is partnering with the Writing Back programme to support them to identify and build relationships with Leeds organisations working with older people interested in taking part in the programme.

“It’s good to be able to connect with someone different and it’s also good for teaching skills.”

Kelly, Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, Burmantofts Community Friends.

Supporting improved digital skills and confidence at Burmantofts Community Friends

Burmantofts Community Friends is a charity supporting people aged over 60 in and around LS9, the neighbourhood with the lowest average household income in Leeds. Recognising that lack of motivation is a significant barrier to their members engaging with digital, Burmantofts Community Friends take a creative approach to supporting digital inclusion. The organisation embeds opportunities for digital engagement across their service offer, highlighting the ways digital tools and services can support members to continue living independently. Their Breakfast and Browsers group supports members to develop transferable digital skills such as using QR codes, making online payments, and scanning and uploading documents through creative projects such as day trips and reminiscence work.

The opportunity to take part in the Writing Back project came about at the same time that Burmantofts Community Friends received funding to gift tablets with 4G data to their Breakfast and Browsers members unable to afford their own devices. After supporting members to set up email addresses, Burmantofts Community Friends faced the challenge of how to best support members to practise sending and receiving emails, an essential skill needed to keep in touch with friends, family, and services, without one-to-one support from the organisation. Taking part in the Writing Back programme enabled Burmantofts Community Friends to offer an email pen pal for each member interested in hearing about members’ hobbies and interests.

After initial reluctance, feedback from Breakfast and Browsers members has been positive. Participants were excited about receiving a reply, which motivated them to keep the conversation going and to further practise their email skills, including developing new skills such as how to send emails with attachments. One member’s first pen pal email was five words long, and by the end of the six month programme she was sending full paragraphs.

“I had members saying ‘I’ll never be able to do it’ and by the end they were doing it on their own, sending emails backwards and forwards to their pen pals. People were excited to look at their emails, not stressed. People like sharing their stories.”

Kelly, Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, Burmantofts Community Friends.

The Writing Back programme

Established in 2014, the award winning Writing Back programme is based in the International Student Office and Global Community Team at The University of Leeds. In addition to providing support around health and wellbeing the team signpost students to volunteering opportunities. Writing Back started life as an intergenerational letter writing programme to tackle loneliness and social isolation for both international students and older people across Yorkshire. During the pandemic the programme moved to using email, which resulted in an added dimension of improving digital literacy skills and digital communication.

I can honestly say it has been an incredibly enjoyable experience so far. The premise of the project revolves around connecting with people from diverse backgrounds, exchanging thoughts, stories, and ideas through the written word. It’s a fantastic opportunity to explore different perspectives and cultures, creating a true global conversation.

Feedback from International student, University of Leeds

Student participants attend training to prepare them for the role. Going forwards, 100% Digital Leeds will deliver additional digital inclusion awareness training for students involved in the programme, helping them to understand how they fit into the larger digital inclusion network of support being delivered across Leeds.

Taking part in Writing Back

The University of Leeds is interested in partnering with organisations supporting older people in Leeds. For more information, or to register your interest in taking part, contact us.

Digital Inclusion for Older People

This October the Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network came together to celebrate the network members’ efforts to support digital inclusion in 2023 and identify shared priorities for 2024.

Over 50 people working with older people across the city attended the event at Virgin Money to hear about best practice as well as form new partnerships that support their digital inclusion offers. Network members Burmantofts Community Friends and Your Backyard shared learning, Good Things Foundation shared support and resources available, and Virgin Money shared partnership opportunities for the network. The event also featured a marketplace with organisations discussing key themes such as accessibility, changes to telephone services, and health and wellbeing.

“It was great to meet up with so many people and organisations doing digital inclusion work across Leeds at the networking event…there is so much going on in this area, and so much is needed as more and more key services get moved online. It’s a massive help having 100% Digital Leeds periodically bringing us all together every to share information, network and share ideas.”

Tony Mullin, Your Backyard.

Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network

The Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network is a partnership between 100% Digital Leeds and Leeds Older People’s Forum, bringing together 38 organisations supporting older people across the city. The network builds sector capacity to support digital inclusion for older people by identifying shared priorities, forging new partnerships, and sharing learning and resources. 

The network’s digital inclusion priorities for 2024 were identified as:

  • Transport
  • Online safety
  • Online banking and money management
  • Digital health participation
  • Shopping for utilities and fuel poverty
  • Recruiting and managing volunteers

The network has worked to address some of these priorities this year. Transport Connections has been exploring how to improve transport options for older people with support from Department for Transport’s ‘Tackling loneliness with transport’ fund. Be Online Stay Safe supports older people in diverse communities to overcome the digital inclusion barriers they face to accessing media literacy with the support of Department for Culture, Media, and Sport’s Media Literacy Programme Fund.

Key takeaways from the network meeting

New network shared resource repository

A shared drive has been created as a place members can access and share useful tools and resources such as ‘how to’ guides and digital skills session plans. Members are encouraged to upload any documents they have created that they think others may find useful, facilitating peer support across the network.

Current content on the Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network shared drive includes ‘How to’ guides for travel apps and information about Digital Voice, BT’s new home telephone service.

Support available from Good Things Foundation

We were joined by Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity. They support organisations via their National Digital Inclusion Network which is free to join. Support includes:

  • The National Databank, via which organisations can get free SIM cards with 4G data, calls and texts to gift to those struggling to afford connectivity.
  • The National Device Bank, via which organisations can get reconditioned tablets and smartphones to gift to those unable to afford a device.
  • Learn My Way, an eLearning platform which organisations can use to support digital skills.
  • The Fix the Digital Divide Fund gives grants of between £1,000 and £6,000 for organisations looking to build their digital inclusion capabilities.
  • Training and networking opportunities for organisations looking to develop their digital inclusion offers.

Partnership and signposting opportunities from Virgin Money

Virgin Money is the first bank in the UK to sign up to the National Databank with plans to distribute SIM cards from 16 stores across the country, including several Leeds branches. They also offer free money management advice and support in store and out in the community.

MHA Active app

MHA offer a free lifestyle and wellness app that provides a host of content tailored to an older audience. Users can access carefully created content from exercise videos and cooking demonstrations to quizzes and live events. The app also has a specialist dementia friendly section.

Digital skills and accessibility support from AbilityNet

AbilityNet showcased their free online resources and promoted their network of over 300 community-based volunteers to help older people and disabled people of any age to use all kinds of digital technology.

  • My Computer My Way offers simple ‘how to’ guides to utilise accessibility features to make devices easier to use. The guides offer step-by-step instructions on how to adapt a phone, computer, or tablet to meet the user’s needs.
  • AbilityNet has a team of volunteers who can provide free IT support at home. They can help with a range of tech challenges including setting up new equipment, fixing technical issues, showing people how to stay connected to family, and using online services.
  • The organisation runs free webinars on a range of topics. Their upcoming ‘Top tips for boosting your digital skills’ webinar will see guest speakers from BT Group and Age UK discuss how to ensure that older people, in particular, are not left behind in the digital revolution.

Digital support and access from Leeds Libraries

Leeds Libraries highlighted a selection of their digital resources:

BT Digital Voice

Digital Voice is the name of BT’s new home phone service. All landlines are going digital meaning from calls will be made over the broadband network, rather than the old analogue network. Analogue landline technology will be switched off in December 2025. The switchover started in April with people who were ready to switch. BT is working with charities such as AbilityNet and AgeUK to ensure everyone will be ready to make the switch by 2025. Find more information about Digital Voice on the network shared drive.

Video introducing digital voice

Next Steps

The next Older People Digital Inclusion Network meeting will take place on 23rd January 2024. If you would like to join the network, please email natasha.hill@leeds.gov.uk.

Partner profile: Leeds International Piano Competition and Be Caring

Through partnership working with Leeds International Piano Competition (LIPC) and Be Caring the 100% Digital Leeds team developed an arts and culture digital inclusion offer that aimed to address the digital inclusion need in care by:

  • highlighting the ways that care settings can utilise digital to engage with the city’s arts sector and increase arts participation for care residents.
  • making new and lasting connections between individual care settings and arts organisations in the city.
  • supporting the improved digital skills and confidence of staff and residents in care settings.
  • supporting improved arts participation for care audiences.

A live tea dance and a series of curated piano recitals were produced and made available to care settings through the Arts in Care Digital Programme, and an in-person event was held by Be Caring for staff and care recipients. The success of these activities will lead to more digital inclusion engagement for both LIPC and Be Caring.

“The way I’ve been thinking about digital more and more is that it’s a tool. We could probably never on any sort of scale engage with [a care] audience except for digitally because we can’t really take our competition winner into a care home because they need a Steinway piano. So really the only connection is going to be digital.”

Sally Egan, Leeds International Piano Competition

60% of staff across care homes nationally report low levels of confidence with using digital technology. This statistic was echoed in a recent digital social care record summary, where a digital assessment of care providers in Leeds reported that 43% of care homes didn’t have adequate wifi across their building, and 6% of settings have no wifi at all. There is a need to address the current offer of connectivity and equipment within care homes. There is also a need to address the confidence and skills of staff working in care homes to utilise digital technology and capabilities to best support the people they work with. 

The arts can provide opportunities for social interaction, movement, and activity which could play a role in mitigating some of the behavioural factors that are associated with increased risk of dementia. Additionally greater engagement in cultural activities has links with reduced frailty.

Working in partnership to maximise access to arts and culture through digital

This project saw 100% Digital Leeds partnering with LIPC and Be Caring to utilise digital to improve access to creative content for people living with dementia and their carers.

Leeds International Piano Competition

Founded in 1963, the Leeds International Piano Competition (LIPC) is one of the world’s foremost music competitions, holding performances over three days every three years and attracting a digital global audience. Alongside the competition the organisation runs an educational and outreach programme with schools, and a popular piano trail across the city. For 2023, Head of Creative Learning and Engagement Sally Egan was keen to expand their creative learning programme and wanted to test and learn new approaches to community engagement to see where they could have an impact. As a result, LIPC partnered with 100% Digital Leeds on the Arts in Care Digital Programme.

100% Digital Leeds Arts in Care Digital Programme

The Arts in Care Digital Programme aims to help develop the digital skills, confidence, and motivation, of care homes staff and care recipients. The programme is curated by 100% Digital Leeds with the support of a steering group made up of partners from across health, culture, and care settings.

The programme aims to foster meaningful relationships between arts and cultural organisations and care settings, to give care staff the experience of hosting digital sessions within their space. It also gives arts and cultural organisations the opportunity to reach new audiences, work with new technology, and for everyone to have a joyful and uplifting experience in the process. The aim with the week was to help to tackle some of the barriers to inclusion faced by care recipients and staff taking part in digital arts activity, and to develop their digital skills and confidence. In the process of managing the programme the team would also have the opportunity to form valuable relationships with the care sector, deepening our understanding of the specific barriers of engaging with digital in this context, and also what the individual motivators are. This creates stronger foundations for our ongoing work with care including the work that we are delivering for the digital social care record (DSCR) in partnership with Leeds City Council’s Adults and Health Service.

Be Caring

Be Caring is the UK’s largest employee-owned social care provider. Based in South Leeds their range of services covers everything from traditional domiciliary care to more complex needs like dementia, learning disabilities, palliative care and reablement. Be Caring partnered with 100% Digital Leeds to engage with the Arts in Care Digital Programme to see how they could better support the wellbeing of their service users.

“As an organisation, we want to transform the sector, innovating new models of care which better support the people we care for, and our employees themselves. We’re achieving this through engaging with our clients and colleagues, encouraging open and honest communication.”

Be Caring

Using digital to enable people with dementia and their carers to engage with Leeds International Piano Competition

The demographic of the LIPC audience means that some audience members are living with dementia, whether they have reached the stage of a formal diagnosis or not. The team was keen to make their programme as inclusive and accessible as possible for people living with dementia. They met with Tim Sanders, the Dementia Lead for Leeds, who is also a pianist. From this conversation, the idea for a Leeds Carers Piano Competition came about. Held in July at Opera North the competition was open to staff of Carers Leeds, people living with dementia and their families. 

“It’s not for us to tell people how to experience. We’re trying to create more relaxed settings where people can behave more authentically and experience [culture] in a way that suits them better.”

Sally Egan, Leeds International Piano Competition

Following on from the competition in July, LIPC planned to celebrate National Dementia Carers Day with a tea dance in the Civic Hall, in partnership with Carers Leeds. Sally contacted the 100% Digital Leeds team who organised a meeting with the technical team at the Carriageworks Theatre with the aim of recording the tea dance to show as part of the Arts in Care Digital Programme. This would enable them to widen their reach, to find new audiences and to re-connect with those audiences that may have lost touch with the competition after entering care.

“Loved the music, singing and dancing. Very uplifting.”

Leeds care home

The tea dance was recorded and then made available via YouTube alongside four curated piano recitals, introduced by members of the LIPC team. Despite technical hitches to the sound meaning that some of it had to be re-dubbed, the recordings proved to be extremely popular with care homes. The 100% Digital Leeds team were also keen to promote other digital resources that would sit alongside the event providing a more holistic approach to the digital opportunities presented to care staff. Alongside the LIPC offering 100% Digital Leeds signposted staff to Medici.TV  which streams classical concerts online and can be accessed with a Leeds Libraries library card, plus other resources such as Borrow Box and access to online newspapers and magazines.

“If you have sensory difficulties or if you’re very introverted, then going into a space with people you don’t know to hear something might be the last thing you’d ever want. If we think about the competition in the Great Hall in the university, we can get 200 people in there for one round. But we live stream it to 5,000,000.”

Sally Egan, Leeds International Piano Competition

The 100% Digital Leeds team presented at a Registered Managers Information and Quality Forum, speaking about how care settings could take part in the Arts and Care Digital Programme. Lance Gardner from Be Caring contacted the team to see how we could work together for the benefit of their staff and clients. 100% Digital Leeds facilitated a relationship with LIPC which led to Be Caring organising a tea dance for their clients at a café in Beeston, using the recorded tea dance as inspiration for an in-person afternoon tea.

This was the first time the group had met since the pandemic and the first time that one of their care recipients had left the house for 15 years. At the event she was also able to connect with her niece who she hadn’t seen for six years. The event was a resounding success, however a huge amount of time went into making it happen, including making sure that transport was in place for the participants. This time pressure is partially mitigated by the way in which Be Caring are constituted as a social enterprise, as staff are paid for all of their contracted hours rather than just the hours they are providing their in-person care. Lance is now keen to expand on their digital work and is exploring ways in which he can build on the success of that initial tea dance meet-up with support from the 100% Digital Leeds team.

“You’re doing this in my environment. This is my home, so I can feel good about myself and I become the centre of attention in a way that might not have been for many, many, many years.”

Lance Gardner, Be Caring

Next Steps

Both Be Caring and LIPC are keen to continue their relationship with 100% Digital Leeds to further investigate how they can use digital tools within their organisations.  Be Caring have made plans to continue meet-up events using digital as a motivator and are also looking at other digital approaches to encourage communication between their clients. One idea is that they give care recipients tablets to be able to keep in touch with each other from their own homes with the aim of maintaining and reinforcing social bonds, with wellbeing outcomes linked to improved mental health and reduced feelings of isolation.

“In relation to wellbeing, cultural participation afforded older people a range of positive emotional experiences, making them feel happier… Older people also reported feeling more of a connection with their own personal identity, as well as building a collective identity, which led to increased confidence and self-esteem. “

Baring Foundation, Every Home a Creative Home Report

LIPC are interested in working with 100% Digital Leeds on their Creative Learning Engagement Laboratory where LIPC have the freedom to experiment with innovative approaches for the benefit of their audiences and to increase the organisation’s reach, including audiences in care.

Tackling data poverty in partnership with Good Things Foundation

In September 100% Digital Leeds hosted two events sharing the city’s approach to tackling digital poverty, as part of Leeds Digital Festival. Across the two events attendees from almost 90 organisations found out more about Leeds’s approach to gifting data, and how they can play a role in supporting more Leeds residents to access free data. The events focussed on raising awareness of Good Things Foundation‘s, National Databank, an initiative which provides free mobile data, texts and calls to people in need via the charity’s network of community partners.

So far 100% Digital Leeds and Good Things Foundation have supported over 50 organisations across Leeds to join the National Databank and start gifting data. Between them those organisations have received over 6,000 SIMs to gift free 4G data to the people and communities in Leeds who need it most.

Figures from Leeds Poverty Factbook show that:

  • Relative Poverty is estimated to affect 178,630 people in Leeds (after housing costs are deducted from income).
  • Local estimates from HMRC & DWP estimate that 32,933 children under 16 in Leeds were in poverty in 2021/22.
  • There were 65,830 food parcels given out informally during 2021/22 through emergency food providers, parish pantries and  Community Care Hubs.
  • An estimated 55,274 Leeds households were in fuel poverty in 2021 under the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) metric.  This affects 15.8% of all Leeds households.

Watch the ‘Tackling data poverty in Leeds’ webinar.

Good Things Foundation

Good Things Foundation is a social change charity working across the UK to fix the digital divide. One in 20 UK households don’t have home internet access (Ofcom, 2022) and over 2 million UK households struggle to afford connectivity via broadband or mobile data (Ofcom, 2022).  This is why Good Things Foundation launched the National Databank, which distributes free data in the form of SIMs and data vouchers to partner organisations in the National Digital Inclusion Network.

Representatives from Good Things Foundation spoke at both of our events themed on tackling data poverty. Bryony Evans, Recruitment and Activation Manager at Good Things Foundation attended our face-to-face event, Making the National Databank work for you: supporting effective SIM gifting, speaking about the National Databank including sharing updates about recent website improvements that should make data easier to access in the future. She also supported local organisations such as Gipsil and Damasq to join the National Databank and start gifting free data.

“During my time at Good Things Foundation I’ve worked closely on the set up of the National Databank, so I was very interested to hear from the other speakers about how they had integrated gifting free data into their work. I came away from the event inspired by the huge amount of work being done and the people being supported in Leeds.”

Bryony Evans, Recruitment and Activation Manager at Good Things Foundation

Find out more about the National Databank by watching this video from Good Things Foundation.

Case study: The Old Fire Station

For East Leeds residents without access to wifi or struggling with fuel costs Old Fire Station in Gipton is a safe, warm, and friendly space to access free wifi, where people are welcome to linger. They joined us for the Making the National Databank work for you: supporting effective SIM gifting event and shared their experiences of gifting data via the National Databank.

The Old Fire Station is home to six local charities supporting a range of people including those with mental health needs, people with learning disabilities, and those looking for work. The site also has rooms available to hire, a cookery school and a café for the whole community to enjoy.

Over the last nine months, 100% Digital Leeds has helped The Old Fire Station to access funding and resources to offer local people skills support via digital drop-in sessions and connectivity via the National Databank, and they have also become a Digital Health Hub. Clarion Housing has funded the organisation to deliver a digital oral history project using the building’s rich heritage as a catalyst for digital inclusion. Most recently The Old Fire Station has been awarded NHS health inequalities funding to host a Digital Inclusion Officer to work with partners across the York Road Local Care Partnership footprint and continue the development of the Digital Health Hub Network.

“By working with the organisations in the Old Fire Station and the local area, we get a deeper understanding of the needs of their service users. We’ve focussed our efforts on embedding data gifting into as many services as possible across all of the organisations here. Making the most of this increased connectivity is really important, so we also offer digital skills support in a friendly and relaxed environment.”

Chris Bamber, Digital Inclusion Officer at the Old Fire Station

Embedding SIM gifting into services supporting people on low incomes

The Old Fire Station offers many services to support those on low incomes including support with cost of living and money saving advice. The People’s Pantry and Clothing Rebelling offer affordable food and clothing, Digital Drop-in sessions are available in the café every Thursday, and a the Leeds City Council Mobile Community Hub visits weekly, supporting people with council queries and transactions, managing their benefits, and completing online forms.

Across each of those services people with a device but reliant on pay-as-you-go data or unable to afford any connectivity offered free SIMs via the National Databank, providing six months of free 4G data.

“I was getting help from Gipsil at the Old Fire Station. I want to get some qualifications and apply for jobs but it’s all online nowadays and my very old phone was broken. Gipsil managed to get me a new phone and then with the Digital Inclusion Officer’s help I got a free data SIM card and some lessons on how to use my new phone. Without the help of both Chris and Gipsil I would have had no chance with moving my life forwards.”

Netta, a service user of Gipsil and The Old Fire Station

Case study: Leeds Libraries

Leeds Libraries are one of 100% Digital Leeds’s key delivery partners. They joined us for the Making the National Databank work for you: supporting effective SIM gifting event and shared their experiences of gifting data via the National Databank.

Leeds Libraries applied to the National Databank in July 2022, identifying this as a resource that could help them to expand their digital support offer in a sustainable way. Libraries’ digital offer already included a tablet lending scheme, access to free wifi and PCs in all of their 34 sites across the city, and regular digital support sessions, so being able to offer free mobile data, texts and calls to people in need broadened that existing support.

“I would encourage anyone working on digital inclusion to consider joining Good Things Foundation’s National Databank scheme and embed SIM gifting into their digital inclusion offer.”

Liam Garnett, Senior Librarian and Digital Lead, Leeds Libraries.

Identifying sites for SIM gifting

All 34 Libraries and Community Hubs in Leeds are part of the National Digital Inclusion Network which helped when it came to identifying where the service wanted to launch their SIM gifting offer. Leeds has several high priority wards which have high levels of deprivation and low levels of digital engagement and Libraries wanted to offer SIM gifting in a range of geographical areas around the city. They considered how council colleagues with a presence in Community Hubs could support with signposting, and the range of community partners and organisations in an area that would also benefit from a local site offering SIM gifting.

SIM gifting is now available at five sites:

  • Leeds Central Library.
  • The Reginald Centre in Chapeltown.
  • The Compton Centre in Harehills.
  • Dewsbury Road Community Hub and Library.
  • Armley Community Hub and Library.

Identifying beneficiaries

The five pilot Hubs and Libraries are home to a range of council teams, meaning colleagues in Job Shops, Housing, Translation Services, Financial Inclusion, Project Development, Community Healthcare, Social Prescribing, and others, are able identify their service users experiencing data poverty and easily signpost them to get a free SIM.

SIM gifting is also included as a specific part of the Local Welfare Support Scheme (LWSS) process for customers who may be digitally excluded. LWSS Assessors offer services from Community Hubs, including having conversations with customers around their digital access. The Assessors refer eligible customers to a Community Hub and Library site to collect their free SIM and data.

“By getting the word out through council colleagues and community partners, we’ve had people signposted to us from a variety of different services. We’ve been able to support a whole range of our library users from care leavers to job seekers to Ukrainian refugees.”

Liam Garnett, Senior Librarian and Digital Lead, Leeds Libraries

Libraries designed awareness training for each chosen Library’s teams. All frontline staff in Hubs and Libraries are trained as Digital Champions, meaning they already have a good level of understanding about the barriers to digital inclusion and how to help people overcome them.

Supporting positive outcomes

SIM gifting has helped Libraries to support their service users to access other beneficial services. Leeds Community Healthcare’s Maternity Services meet service users in the Wellbeing Pods available at Libraries and Hubs. They can use SIM gifting to help new parents who are digitally excluded to sign up for the NHS Healthy Start scheme, increasing access to food and vitamins for low income families. Job Shops staff can use SIM gifting to enable service users to access employment support available via Job Shops, and financial support via Leeds Credit Union.

“We started gifting sims in Autumn last year and to date have gifted roughly 700. Going by the RRP of these SIMs if they were purchased in shops, this equates to roughly £60,000 worth of savings, which in the current climate with the ongoing cost of living crisis really putting the squeeze on, has been a massive benefit to our communities and Library users.”

Liam Garnett, Senior Librarian and Digital Lead, Leeds Libraries

Next steps

We know that being online can help people to earn and save more. Good Things Foundation’s Digital Nation Infographic shows that people with high digital engagement save £659 more a year, and manual workers with high digital engagement earn £5,000 more a year.

Good Things Foundation wants to partner with more organisations in Leeds to ensure that people who are digitally excluded can access free data, devices and skills support. As well as free SIMs, the offer from Good Things Foundation to community organisations includes a free digital skills learning platform in the form of Learn My Way, training, meet ups and more. To find out more, join one of Good Things Foundation’s free upcoming events.

The 100% Digital Leeds delivery partners who are signed up to the National Databank have gifted SIM cards with free data, text and calls worth almost half a million pounds. We want to build on that success.

100% Digital Leeds is keen to work with more organisations in Leeds to develop their digital inclusion offer, including SIM gifting via the National Databank. Contact us to arrange a chat.