Get Online Week 2023

A selection of in-person support sessions and events across Leeds for Get Online Week.

Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network event – 100% Digital Leeds and Leeds Older People’s Forum

Tuesday 17 October, 1.30pm – 3.30pm, Virgin Money, Leeds, LS1 6NP

Book your free tickets via TicketSource

To Celebrate Get Online week 2023, 100% Digital Leeds and Leeds Older People’s Forum warmly invite organisations supporting older people to this event which will share good practice, learning and resources to support older people with digital inclusion. The Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network launched in December 2020 and is a partnership between 100% Digital Leeds and Leeds Older People’s Forum. The Network brings together organisations across the city who support older people with digital.

This event will be an opportunity to meet organisations who are part of the Network. There will be a number of speakers sharing insights on a range of themes such as transport apps, online safety, digital health, recruiting and supporting volunteers, and ways to access funding to develop a digital inclusion offer within your organisation. There will also be a marketplace area with various organisations sharing information and resources and free refreshments provided throughout the event.

Carers Leeds

Monday 16 October, 11.00am – 1.00pm: ‘Let’s Get Digital’ Drop-in:
Open to anyone who would like an introduction to technology or has any tech-related questions. Pop by to have a go on some free equipment, take home some handy ‘how to’ guides, receive a free SIM card, ask us any digital-related questions you have, and hear about how you can make technology fun. Coffee and cake will be provided!
No booking required, just pop in.

Wednesday 18 October, 11.00am – 12.00: ‘Supporting Your Own Health’ Workshop:
We know these days many health services require us to be online, and this can often come with its own challenges. If you would like to learn how to manage your own health online, come along to our friendly group workshop. We will be teaching you how to register for GP services online, how to book appointments, order prescriptions, and check your medical record. We will also share some different online tools that can help you manage your caring role and other health conditions.

*These two events are hosted at Carers Leeds, 6 – 8 The Headrow, LS1 6PT*

Booking is essential so please contact Holly directly on 07494 272 022 or email:

Men’s Health Unlocked

Digital Drop-ins throughout Leeds during Get Online Week with Salim, Digital Inclusion Worker:

Monday 16 October:

11.00am – 12.00, Moor Allerton Community Hub & Library

1.00pm – 2.00pm, Reginald Centre

Tuesday 17 October:

10.30am – 11.30am, Seacroft Community Hub & Library

2.00pm – 3.00pm, Armley Community Hub & Library

Wednesday 18 October:

1.00pm – 2.00pm, Garforth Community Hub & Library

Thursday 19 October:

10.30am – 11:30am, Pudsey Community Hub & Library

Friday 20 October:

11.00am – 12.00, Beeston Community Hub & Library

Morley Digital

Monday 16 October, 10.00am – 3.00pm

Digital drop-in at The Salvation Army Building, Ackroyd Street, Morley.

Tuesday 17 October 1.00pm – 3.00pm

Digital drop-in at The Meeting Hall, Town Street, Guildersome.

Feel Good Factor

Thursday 19 October, 10.00am – 12.00

Get Online Coffee Morning with Samantha Haggart. Find out more about the Be Online, Stay Safe course. Feel Good Factor, 53 Louis Street, Leeds, LS7 4BP.

Digital inclusion in the York Road area

In April 2023 100% Digital Leeds appointed a Digital Inclusion Officer to build community capacity to support digital inclusion for improved health participation in the York Road Local Care Partnership (LCP) area, with the support of NHS Health Inequalities Funding.

The role is hosted by The Old Fire Station and matrix managed by 100% Digital Leeds, using our community-based approach to improve and increase digital inclusion support to meet the needs of local residents. 

After five months of having a Digital Inclusion Officer working across the area, organisations are more effectively working together to provide support for local residents looking to improve their digital skills and confidence. The Old Fire Station is becoming a place where residents across the area feel they can visit to get support to get online.

“I come to The Old Fire Station every Thursday for help using my new phone. I go to Burmantofts Senior Action on a Monday too, so I get two lessons each week. I’ve learnt lots about how to get the most out of WhatsApp. This has meant I can now video call my son who lives in America. In the past I’ve been limited to short phone calls which used to cost me a fortune” 

Terry, service user of The Old Fire Station and Burmantofts Senior Action.

Increasing support for digital inclusion at The Old Fire Station

Digital drop-in sessions

Since June, the Digital Inclusion Officer has been running weekly digital drop-in sessions which have been very well attended by a wide selection of people needing a bit of advice. The sessions take place every Thursday, from 10am until 1pm in the Old Fire Station’s café area. The sessions attract both those who attend week-on-week to develop their digital skills and those who drop by on a one-off basis to resolve an issue they’re having with their device.

Attendees can bring their own devices or there are laptops on hand for those without a device. Anyone struggling with connectivity can use the centre’s free wifi or be gifted a free data SIM via the National Databank.

Being a regular feature in the café area of the Old Fire Station has helped to raise the profile of the available support to everyone who uses the space. Seeing a group of people eager to learn more about digital has been effective in encouraging others to come forward, have a friendly chat, and start to make sense of areas of technology which are causing confusion.

Signposting from other organisations working out of the Old Fire Station building

The Old Fire Station is home to five other community organisations plus a whole host of other services. One of the greatest successes is how well the digital support is being accessed by the all of the centre’s visitors. The Digital Inclusion Officer has focussed on ensuring the organisations are all aware of the support available to them and their service users, complementing the support those organisations already offer.

“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

The People’s Pantry and Clothing Rebellion also operate out of the Old Fire Station on a Thursday offering pre-loved clothes and low cost foods. With the cost-of-living crisis hitting people hard, service users have been signposted to the Digital Inclusion Officer, who has then been able to provide free data SIM cards to those who are struggling financially.

The Leeds City Council Mobile Community Hub visits The Old Fire Station weekly, allowing for greater cross-referral opportunities. The Mobile Community Hub has wifi and laptops available for people to use, plus two members of staff on hand to support people with council queries and transactions, managing their benefits, and completing online forms.

Increasing the capacity of organisations in the York Road area to support digital inclusion

With extra funding the organisations in the York Road area have been able to expand their operations and reach. Through collaborations with corporate partners, they have sourced more devices to offer to their services users and provide more capacity in terms of staffing hours in order to strengthen the support available.

The Digital Inclusion Officer has been working to increase the number of organisations offering digital inclusion support. Recently St Vincent’s has been added to the list of Digital Health Hubs in the area, joining organisations such as Burmantofts Senior Action and Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours. Offering a safe space, devices to use and with friendly advice on hand if needed, St Vincent’s is a very welcome addition to the network. They run a digital drop-in session every Wednesday from 10am until 12.00 but people can visit and use their IT facilities at any time the centre is open.

Work is continuing with several other local organisations to support them with funding bids so that they too can become part of this flourishing network focussed entirely on improving the well-being of local communities.

Understanding the digital inclusion needs of the local community

The Digital Inclusion Officer has been involved in a number of projects aimed at better understanding the digital inclusion needs of the local community.

Working with Ahead Partnership, the Old Fire Station hosted a series of workshops as part of the Growing Talent Digital Leeds programme. The event brought together thirty students from two local secondary schools to hear how local young people are digitally excluded.

Service users of the Old Fire Station were also invited to attend a focus group conducted by the Centre for Social Justice exploring the barriers people on low incomes face to engaging with digital, from costs, to ease of use, to poor data coverage.

Future plans

Working closely with the local Primary Care Network teams, discussions discovered a need for further assistance for those who are frail and unable to physically go to the community organisations running digital sessions. Work is currently being conducted to enable digital sessions to be run in communal rooms in local Housing Leeds tower blocks for the benefit of social housing tenants. With initial support provided by the Digital Inclusion Officer, the aim is that these sessions will ultimately be peer-led with extra support provided if necessary.

Digital inclusion is becoming more and more important and it’s vital that the work at the Old Fire Station and the network of community organisations continues so that people aren’t left behind, missing out on the important services which are all increasing their online presence. If you would like to discuss enhancing your organisation’s digital inclusion offer in the York Road area and feel you would benefit from support, then please contact Chris Bamber at

Digital inclusion in Woodsley and Holt Park

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

Pioneering Research on Hybrid Delivery: a partnership project between Leeds Beckett University and 100% Digital Leeds

The 100% Digital Leeds team are working closely with Leeds Beckett University’s (LBU) Centre for Health Promotion Research (CHPR) on a pioneering research project: A hybrid future? A mixed-methods study to explore how voluntary and community sector organisations could combine in-person and digital service delivery for adults with learning disabilities and/or autistic people.

The CHPR team have identified a need for research to support voluntary and community sector enterprise (VCSE) organisations use technology effectively to help deliver services for autistic adults or adults who have learning disabilities.

Researchers from CHPR are working with 100% Digital Leeds, Pyramid and VCSE organisations throughout Leeds to examine hybrid service delivery. This is when technology is used as well as, or instead of, in-person activity to provide services. The project will look at what works well and what doesn’t.

The importance of digital inclusion for people with learning disabilities and autistic people.

The Covid 19 pandemic saw an acceleration in the need for organisations to upskill people around digital technologies. As many essential services were forced to move to virtual delivery people moved online with support from family and friends and other support workers. Despite this rapid progress, there are still many people with learning disabilities and autistic people who face barriers to getting online. As it becomes ever more difficult to access essential services such as banking, healthcare and government services without the use of the internet, it is essential that these barriers are addressed. Access to the internet can help tackle social isolation and empower people with learning disabilities and autistic people to have independence and autonomy.

Matt Bellbrough, a community partner for the charity Royal Mencap in Leeds, believes passionately in the importance of hybrid delivery:

“Digital technologies can help us to deliver our services and when used correctly, they help our members in their day to day lives. In my role we are all about getting service users as comfortable as possible with modern life through building confidence, learning skills and socialising. As being online has become such a big part of modern life, it’s so important we give our members the tools they need to navigate this world safely,”

Matt Bellbrough, Royal Mencap
Five people in a park, in front of a tree, holding smartphones.
Royal Mencap’s Positive Changes Volunteers experimenting with different apps on a daytrip out.

The Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network (ALaDDIN).

CHPR researchers have been working closely with the Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator (ALaDDIC).

In September, the Coordinator organised three workshops which were attended by thirteen Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network (ALaDDIN) member organisations. It was fantastic to hear the members of the organisations reflect on their practice and to share their invaluable experience using digital technologies with people with learning disabilities. The information shared will form a vital part of the research project.

Alice Claydon, Creative Programme Coordinator at Pyramid Arts was one of the people who attended a workshop.

“I really enjoyed the workshop: there were a great variety of organisations attending and everyone had a lot to say! It’s so rare that we get an opportunity to reflect on the work that we do with technologies and consider how we can improve our practice. Digital skills are essential when it comes to improving the independence and the wellbeing of our members, and it was great to share ideas of good practice with similar organisations. I’m excited to see the outcomes of the project!”

Alice Claydon, Pyramid of Arts

Two people sat at a desk with arts materials and an artistic interpretation of a laptop.
Pyramid members exploring how they enjoy using digital technologies.

Members of the research team are currently analysing the information gathered at the workshops and will be reviewing and literature available on the topic of hybrid delivery.  Further workshops to follow up the initial sessions will be taking place in November and organisations are compensated for staff time spent in sessions. 

If you are part of an organisation which works with people with learning disabilities and/or autistic people, and you are interested in taking part in this research, please contact

Partner profile: Burmantofts Senior Action and Accenture

Burmantofts Senior Action (BSA) have formed a partnership with Accenture, who have been helping them with skills and capacity as part of their Corporate Social Volunteering scheme. The partnership was formed in June 2023, when 100% Digital Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation, Voluntary Action Leeds, and Leeds Digital Ball worked together to convene a roundtable discussion to explore how skills within the tech and digital sector could be passed into the community sector to help address the digital divide.

For the past three months a small team of volunteers from Accenture have supported Burmantofts Senior Action’s ‘Breakfast and Browsers’ digital skills sessions. The volunteers have provided more one-to-one support to learners along with faster, more effective guidance on technical troubleshooting. The volunteers have also helped Kelly, BSA’s Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, to develop her digital skills and confidence so she is better equipped to support members. Accenture’s commitment to supporting BSA over a significant length of time, and providing the same volunteers week on week, has allowed the volunteers and members to form trusted relationships, making members feel comfortable asking for help without fear of judgement. This support with skills and capacity means BSA have been able to take a more creative approach to digital inclusion, designing and delivering projects that are meaningful and engaging for members who otherwise might be reluctant to try digital.

“I don’t know what I would have done without Accenture. The volunteers have been amazing.”

Kelly, Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, Burmantofts Senior Action

Supporting digitally excluded people helps Accenture understand the barriers people face to using the digital systems they create, supporting them to design more accessible and inclusive digital tools and services.

“When you work in an IT company you can just be behind a desk all day and you might do important work, but you don’t get to meet people who use it and see the benefits of it.”

Tim, Full Stack Engineering Associate Manager, Accenture

The partnership

Burmantofts Senior Action (BSA) is a charity supporting people aged over 60 in and around LS9, the neighbourhood with the lowest average household income in Leeds. They have an annual turnover of around £160,000, 5 paid members of staff, and support approximately 500 members. BSA has a focus on improving the quality of people’s lives by helping them to live independently in their own homes, reduce social isolation and loneliness, and assist with individual support such as benefits, housing, and health. BSA celebrate the individual, what they have achieved in life and what they still want to achieve now.

Accenture is a leading global professional services company that helps the world’s leading businesses, governments and other organisations build their digital core, optimise their operations, accelerate revenue growth and enhance citizen services. The company has 732,000 staff serving clients in more than 120 countries. Accenture offers a wide range of voluntary support, including pro bono consulting projects and volunteering. Last year their UK workforce provided 35,732 hours of pro bono consulting to charities and social enterprises. Accenture offer their staff three paid volunteering days per year and last year their volunteer programme, Time to Volunteer, saw more than 16% of their UK workforce provide 33,564 hours of support.

Breakfast and Browsers

Burmantofts Senior Action runs ‘Breakfast and Browsers’, a digital skills session with an average of 17 older people in attendance each week, all with very low digital skills and confidence. Many members cannot afford the cost of a device and connectivity, and have only recently started their online journey after being gifted a smartphone or tablet by BSA. Having lived a life without digital, many of BSA’s members struggle to understand the potential personal benefits of being online, meaning they lack the motivation to learn these new skills.

“I’ve worked on systems for the NHS or GP booking systems and they’re brilliant, but if you’ve had no training or practice and experience, you’re becoming increasingly excluded from that, and that’s horrible for people. They’re exactly the people who would get the most out of digital services, if they don’t have to walk to the post office or they don’t have to get a bus into town to go to the nearest bank. They’d get the most out of it but they’re the ones excluded.”

Tim, Full Stack Engineering Associate Manager, Accenture

Members often find using new digital tools stressful and need a lot of one-to-one support to progress in their digital journey. Breakfast and Browsers is run by Kelly, BSA’s Outreach Worker. Kelly has the skills and confidence to support members with the basics but describes herself as being “often only one step ahead” of the members.

Positive outcomes from BSA’s partnership with Accenture

The volunteers from Accenture have brought additional skills and capacity to BSA, meaning members are supported to develop their digital skills and confidence in the right way, and at the right pace, for them. Supporting digitally excluded people helps Accenture understand the barriers people face to using the digital systems they create, supporting them to design more accessible and inclusive digital tools and services.

Increased capacity for more one-to-one support for members

The additional capacity provided by Accenture volunteers has allowed members to receive more of the one-to-one help they often need to learn new digital skills without finding the experience confusing and frustrating. Although they are all absolute beginners, each of the members is at a different point in their learning journey and some have additional needs such as sensory impairments, memory issues, and language barriers. Being able to receive dedicated support at an individual level means members have a more positive experience, developing their digital confidence as well as skills.

“I wouldn’t be able to survive doing this type of digital work without the volunteers, because you need a lot of time for each individual person. Sometimes people find doing new things stressful and with the volunteers we have extra capacity that means we’re able to give people the support they need.”

Kelly, Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, Burmantofts Senior Action

“Kelly does all the hard work. She organises and provides all the training material. We’re just there as an extra pair of hands. The members are all very independent, they’ve all got different questions and they all want to do different things, so we’re just extra ears really to listen and help out.”

Tim, Full Stack Engineering Associate Manager, Accenture

Forming trusted relationships between members and volunteers

Because members are low in digital confidence, they are often cautious of asking for support from people they don’t know, for fear of judgement or being made to feel stupid. Accenture have committed to consistently supporting BSA on a weekly basis with the same volunteers. This has meant the volunteers and members have been able to form trusted relationships over time, so members are more comfortable and confident to ask for the support they need.

“Our members have got to know these volunteers because they come every single week, so they’ve been able to build a relationship, which I think is really important. Our members feel like they can ask the volunteers for help because they’ve built a connection with them already. I think when you have different volunteers every week that it’s harder because members still ask me for help. At the beginning it would always be “Kelly, Kelly, Kelly” but now they’re getting used to the volunteers and will shout for them as well, so it is nice that the members are building relationships with other people.”

Kelly, Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, Burmantofts Senior Action

“It’s a really nice way of doing something for local communities and I find it super rewarding. I just love going down there and meeting all the people. Kelly and Tom doing an absolutely fantastic job and the folk there are absolutely amazing. I find it uplifting to help the members. It’s just so nice to talk to them all, and we usually get an egg sandwich and a cup of tea thrown in.”

Tim, Full Stack Engineering Associate Manager, Accenture

Where there has been volunteer turnover, this has been effectively managed by existing volunteers introducing new volunteers to members. This approach has allowed a level of consistency to be maintained whilst existing volunteers drop out and new people come in.

“Tim’s been coming every week and he has been amazing. He’s so good and he’s so popular with people. He brings a team of three or four people with him to Breakfast and Browsers and some of them have been the same people every week, which I think has been helpful. When a new person has come as well, Tim and others have still been there so there are still familiar faces, and they can introduce the new volunteer to the members.”

Kelly, Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, Burmantofts Senior Action

“I’ve got family in that same bracket of not having digital skills. They didn’t grow up with it, and they miss out on so much, so I’ve got a personal investment.”

Tim, Full Stack Engineering Associate Manager, Accenture

Developing the skills of the organisations

BSA’s staff are not digital experts. They often have the skills and confidence to support members with the basics such as internet searching, form filling, and using email, but find it difficult to support more technical queries. Whilst staff at BSA are able to find solutions to problems, doing so often takes time and can be frustrating for everyone involved. Issues with devices usually come up at an individual level so are difficult for one member of staff to solve whilst running a group session. Common issues the volunteers have been able to help with include device optimisation freeing up storage, managing data access, and connecting to wifi.

“I’m always learning. I know the basic skills to help get people online, but I don’t have much technical digital knowledge. The volunteers are quite tech savvy and having them there to support me helps me to support my members.”

Kelly, Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, Burmantofts Senior Action

The volunteers have also been able to use their expertise to quickly and efficiently find solutions to more complex problems that may prevent individual members being able to make best use of their device, such as downloading translation software for a member with low English language skills.  

“I have a member who has a language barrier and asked me to put something on to the tablet so that it would translate everything into her language. I was trying for ages to work it out and couldn’t, but one of the volunteers knew how to do it straight away and they were able to put it all on for her. Now she can understand everything more easily which has made such a big difference to her, and I learned how to do it which has helped me to be able to help her in the future.”

Kelly, Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, Burmantofts Senior Action

For Accenture, experience of supporting digitally excluded people helps their staff understand the barriers people face using the digital systems they create. They can use this insight to design more accessible and inclusive digital tools and services.

“I try and get our younger engineers to come along from Accenture because if you’re in your 20s, you’ve often grown up with screens, computers, touch pads, and it’s like second nature to them. Volunteering gives our engineers insight into the things they need to think about when designing systems. Part of our audience have got absolutely no experience of using digital and we need to be mindful of that, otherwise we’re potentially losing a whole lot of users. So it’s really important for us, as well.”

Tim, Full Stack Engineering Associate Manager, Accenture

Support from Accenture has allowed BSA to take a more creative and engaging approach to digital inclusion

Having the support of trusted volunteers bringing additional skills and capacity has allowed BSA to support the group to develop basic and transferrable digital skills and in creative ways that members find engaging and relevant. This included a trip to Wetherspoons for breakfast where members used the QR code to download the app and order their meal.

The group’s current project, ‘Browse Down Memory Lane’, sees members documenting their lives in Burmantofts. Members bring in personal family photographs and use their device to scan and save them, and search online for archive images such as the school they attended or street they grew up on. They’re using the content to create annotated slide shows that will be shown in a group screening. The project supports members to develop transferrable skills like internet searching, downloading and saving, screenshotting and cropping, and locating and uploading saved files.

“I think people enjoy it because they’re talking about the stories and then showing you the pictures and seeing their presentations come together. It’ll mean a lot to people to see what they’ve actually created, up on the big screen”.

Kelly, Outreach and Digital Engagement Worker, Burmantofts Senior Action

Creating new cross-sector partnerships to support digital transformation

100% Digital Leeds is working with Voluntary Action Leeds and Leeds Community Foundation to explore how businesses in Leeds can support the digital skills and capacity of the city’s third sector.

Community organisations have expressed the need for help with capacity to support digital inclusion, and specialist tech skills to support the sector’s digital transformation. Businesses in the city’s digital and tech sector have expressed an interest in volunteering and doing pro-bono work to support community organisations.

In response 100% Digital Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation, and Voluntary Action Leeds partnered to host a roundtable event in June, bringing together representatives from across the tech and voluntary sector. We explored an integrated approach for brokering and delivering effective digital volunteer partnerships. As well as discussing barriers and potential solutions to forming and maintaining meaningful cross-sector partnerships, some organisations, such as Burmantofts Senior Action and Infinity Works, formed partnerships after meeting at the event.

Burmantofts Senior Action formed a partnership with Infinity Works

To continue the momentum, this September we will host a face-to-face networking event for community organisations looking for support with digital inclusion and digital transformation, and tech companies offering pro-bono support with skills and capacity.

Forming partnerships between businesses and community organisations

This event will create an informal space to have open and honest discussions about what good CSR and pro bono looks like and how it can build resilient communities, connecting those that have capacity and expertise with those that need it the most. The event will bring together third sector community organisations looking for support, as well as tech companies willing to offer voluntary and pro bono support. We want attendees to come away having made meaningful matches, leading to mutually beneficial partnerships.

“At VAL we know that there is so much energy and good will in both the private and VCSE sectors to make positive change for communities. Events like this bring people together to explore shared goals and forge the new relationships that will deliver that change.”

Rich Warrington, Social Action Manager at Voluntary Action Leeds

At the event we will explore issues such as:

  • Skills and capacity to deliver digital inclusion support for people and communities.
  • Scoping and developing digital infrastructure, web design, apps and other technical solutions, use of data analytics.
  • Developing digital strategies or planning for implementation of new software.
  • Help with technical or regulation requirements, compliance or transformation.

Next steps

100% Digital Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation, and Voluntary Action Leeds will form a steering group chaired by a representative from Leeds’ tech sector to further explore this issue. As well as hosting the roundtable event and networking event, we are collating a series of case studies sharing good practice from successful partnerships. Organisations that attended the roundtable event will form a focus group to feedback on suggested actions. For more information, or to offer your support, contact us.

Be Online Stay Safe (BOSS) project update

The Be Online Stay Safe (BOSS) project is a partnership between Leeds Older People’s Forum (LOPF) and 100% Digital Leeds. With the support of the DCMS Media Literacy Programme Fund the project aims to overcome the digital inclusion barriers older people in diverse communities face to accessing media literacy, tackling challenges set out in the DCMS Online Media Literacy Strategy.

The work is led by Samantha Haggart, Digital Inclusion Coordinator at LOPF, working alongside four delivery partners: Hamara, Feel Good Factor, Leeds Irish Health and Homes (LIHH), and Health for All. The BOSS project is now over halfway through the funded period.

“During the last four years of teaching digital skills to older people the biggest barrier is always fear, including fear of scams and fear of doing something wrong.  The Be Online Stay Safe course helps reduce that fear and increase learners’ confidence so they can enjoy the benefits of the online world whilst having the knowledge to help keep them safe.”

Samantha, Digital Inclusion Coordinator at Leeds Older People’s Forum

Themed digital skills sessions

The Digital Inclusion Coordinator has designed a series of digital skills sessions to support learners by building digital skills and confidence, increasing online safety and reducing fear, and developing a better understanding of what the internet has to offer.

The sessions are themed around topics learners are interested in, ensuring the content is relevant, engaging, and practical. The sessions take learners back to basics and cover the level of detail needed to ensure people feel informed and safe without leaving them feeling overwhelmed.

The session themes include:

  • Online safety.
  • Media literacy.
  • Using email.
  • Using the First Bus app.
  • Using the NHS website.

The Digital Inclusion Coordinator has established a skills framework for the BOSS sessions, serving as a guide on the essential subjects and themes covered. The framework helps ensure consistency across delivery partners and by reviewing these areas staff and volunteers can be confident they are delivering effective sessions.

“I am building confidence and doing things I never thought I would do… I knew hardly anything before these sessions and was scared of putting things on my iPhone. Now I can order medicine, make appointments, send photos as an attachment, I am practising emails, I can use an app to see when the buses are coming. I was worried about ordering online before, but I have started to do this with ones I can trust and got the apps. I am going to do the Tesco one next.”

Shiva, BOSS participant.

Developing further content

The BOSS project has highlighted the importance of finding the balance of supporting people with digital skills without overwhelming them with too much information. Once learners have gained confidence through BOSS they have the opportunity to explore more things they can do online, including developing their skills independently. A digital skills assessment has been created to evaluate learners’ progress and provide further learning options to explore.

Learners have expressed an interest in further BOSS modules supporting health literacy including how to use common tools such as the NHS app and PATCHs app. Lesson plans are currently being created to be trialled at Hamara.

“When Googling I realise you have to put the right things in. Now I tread more carefully as there are so many websites to look at. I only go on the high quality ones. The [sessions] helped me to know which sites are safer to look at. If I am looking at foods for rheumatism, or looking at [health] symptoms it will be the NHS [website].”

Karan, BOSS participant.

Next Steps

Looking forward, we aim to create a toolkit which includes BOSS modules and learning materials, to be available from early 2024 when this learning will be shared. 100% Digital Leeds continues to work closely with each of the four delivery partners to ensure they have the capacity to support digital inclusion and online safety for older people in future. This includes delivering digital inclusion awareness workshops, helping partners secure additional funding to increase staff capacity, and encouraging new partnerships.

Tackling data poverty in Leeds

In September 100% Digital Leeds is hosting two free events sharing the city’s approach to tackling digital poverty, as part of Leeds Digital Festival. Attendees will be able to find out more about our approach to gifting data, and how they can support people to access free data.

Data poverty means being unable to afford a safe, secure internet connection. Many people on low incomes can’t afford wifi and are unable to secure a mobile phone contract. This leaves them reliant on ‘pay as you go’ 4G data, which is the most expensive and unreliable way to get online. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact household budgets, more and more people in Leeds are finding they have to ration data to keep costs down or can’t afford data at all. According to a recent report by the Centre for Social Justice, 42% of those on low incomes without access to the internet at home are of working age. Alongside lack of connectivity, people experiencing digital exclusion often do not have a suitable digital device and lack the digital skills and confidence to make the most of the internet.

100% Digital Leeds has supported our network of hundreds of partner organisations delivering digital inclusion support across the city to provide thousands of people with free connectivity via schemes such as Good Things Foundation’s National Databank, Vodafone’s Charities Connected, and Hubbub’s Community Calling.

“Thank you so much for the data. It’s meant I’ve been able to call the perinatal mental health team and arrange a different appointment for my anxiety and depression. With four children, all of us in a one-bed flat, being able to keep in touch with people makes such a difference to me.”

Parent supported by a Family Support Worker

The scale of data poverty

In a cost-of-living crisis, paying for the internet is an expense many people are unable to justify. According to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, across the UK, an estimated 1 million people have cut back or cancelled internet packages in the past year due to affordability issues. A recent report by the House of Lords said 1.7 million UK households had no access to broadband or mobile data in 2021. People on Universal Credit are more than six times as likely to have disconnected compared to people not claiming Universal Credit. As well as those on low incomes, people living without secure housing or with a poor credit rating are especially likely to experience digital poverty.

Whilst there are no accurate figures to ascertain the number of people experiencing data poverty in Leeds it is fair to assume that a high percentage of people living in poverty or on a low income will be unable to afford connectivity.

According to the Leeds Poverty Fact Book:

  • In October 2022 there were 72,701 Universal Credit claimants in Leeds, 43,819 of whom were not in work.
  • In 2023 there are 105,554 people living in absolute poverty before household costs.
  • 41,703 people accessed a foodbank in 2021/22 and 65,829 food parcels were given out informally via other emergency food provisions.
  • In 2021, before the most recent cost-of-living crisis, 55,274 household in Leeds experienced fuel poverty.

Digital exclusion makes it harder for people to manage their finances and keep costs down. Those unable to get online can’t use price comparison sites to find the best deals, can’t benefit from the discount that often comes with buying goods and services online, and can’t use online banking and budgeting tools to manage their money.

“Nearly seven million people in Great Britain are paying multiple poverty premiums and this costs them nearly £500 extra a year for essential goods and services, including food, insurance, and credit. Digital exclusion is likely to increase the costs consumers pay as goods can be more expensive offline. Without internet access, consumers can pay as much as 25% more on essential goods and services.”

Left Out: How to tackle digital exclusion and reduce the poverty premium.

The worst-off financially are also more likely to be multiply disadvantaged due to disability, immigration status, physical and mental health issues, having caring responsibilities or being socially isolated. In an increasingly online world, digital poverty limits people’s ability to access housing, employment, health services, training and education, and stay connected with friends and family.

Taking a community-based approach to data gifting

100% Digital Leeds works with hundreds of partners across the city working with and within communities most likely to be experiencing digital exclusion. We work with those partners across many different settings – third sector, public sector, health and care – to strengthen the digital inclusion infrastructure in communities to increase digital access, engagement and participation. This means digital inclusion support is embedded within the services that are already used and trusted by the people in our city experiencing data poverty.

As well as offering support with digital skills and confidence, and access to equipment, many of our partners gift SIM cards providing free data, calls, and texts, to those who need it most. Coupling SIM gifting with digital skills support and the loan of equipment means that recipients are supported to make the most of the data. Beneficiaries are identified via services people on low incomes are likely to use such as food banks, welfare support, and employability services. Partners gifting SIMs include Community Centres, Libraries, Children’s Centres, GP surgeries, and banks.

“Giving out data has been a massive success for us, not only being able to give something to families that struggle on a daily basis with the cost of living but enabling them to make regular contact with services. We are keen to empower families and this really helps. Something so small really can make a difference to someone’s life.”

Elkie Jones, Family Outreach Worker

Learn more about the Leeds approach to data gifting

In September, 100% Digital Leeds is hosting two events focussed on data gifting as part of Leeds Digital Festival. Attendees will be able to find out more about our approach to gifting data, and how they can support people to access free data.

Tackling data poverty in Leeds: a community-based approach to gifting SIMs

Monday 18 September 2023, 1-2pm, on Zoom. Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

This webinar will highlight our cross-sector strategic approach to data-gifting, and how this enables people struggling to afford connectivity to access the digital tools and services they need to support their health, employability, and social inclusion. We will share how the use of the National Databank supports the implementation of the city’s Digital Strategy.

Speakers will include:

  • 100% Digital Leeds discussing the importance of connectivity as a foundation of Leeds Digital Strategy and outlining the work they are doing to combat digital exclusion and data poverty.
  • Good Things Foundation discussing the National Databank.
  • Leeds Libraries sharing their experience of implementing SIM gifting as part of libraries’ digital inclusion offer and the positive outcomes that have come about as a result.
  • Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers (Pafras) talking about their experience with data gifting and the impact this has on the people who access their services.
  • Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust discussing how SIM gifting via the National Databank has enabled the 0-19 Public Health Integrated Nursing Service to support parents experiencing data poverty to engage with Baby Bubble Leeds.
  • Virgin Money explaining how, as the first bank in the UK to sign up to the National Databank, they became involved with SIM gifting and how that fits in with their corporate strategy.

Making the National Databank work for you: supporting effective SIM gifting

Thursday 28 September, 2-3pm at Leeds Central Library. Book your free ticket via Eventbrite.

This event at Leeds Central Library is aimed at partner organisations that are already part of the National Databank and looking for practical ways to improve their SIM gifting offer, those interested in joining the National Databank and looking for support, or those wanting to know more about SIM gifting in Leeds so they can signpost to existing support.

Speakers include:

  • 100% Digital Leeds outlining Leeds’s pioneering community-based approach to data-gifting and the work 100% Digital Leeds are doing to combat digital exclusion and data poverty.
  • Good Things Foundation sharing information about the National Databank, including demonstrating recent changes to the website that have streamlined the process. They will be on-hand to troubleshoot and offer advice on how to overcome any challenges to signing up to the Databank or gifting SIMs.
  • Leeds Libraries will share their experience of implementing SIM gifting as part of libraries’ digital inclusion offer and the positive outcomes that have come about as a result.
  • Virgin Money will share how and where organisations can signpost people to their SIM gifting service, and speak about some of the other services they offer to those looking to better manage their finances.
  • The Old Fire Station will talk about how they identify beneficiaries via services such as their community food pantry.

Partner profile: Royal Mencap’s Positive Changes Group

Royal Mencap’s vision is a world where people with a learning disability are valued equally, listened to, and included. Matt Bellbrough, Community Partner at Royal Mencap, has worked with 100% Digital Leeds to set up the Positive Changes group.

Royal Mencap is a member of the Autism and Learning Disabilities Digital Inclusion Network (ALaDDIN) and the Positive Changes group of community connectors are taking steps to make life easier for people with learning disabilities in Leeds, including supporting digital inclusion.

Developing the partnership with 100% Digital Leeds has been one of the best connections I have made with my role. Through the excellent ALaDDIN network I have been able to make connections with other organisations and from those create opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to do before. For the Positive Changes group, 100% Digital Leeds have been there to offer advice, encouragement and directly work with the group so that digital inclusion plays a big part in the project.

Matt Bellbrough, Community Partner, Royal Mencap

Matt works alongside two paid employees with learning disabilities, Maisie and Robert, and a team of volunteers with learning disabilities. The group meet regularly to explore community assets in Leeds and to give out small pots of funding to organisations who are working with people with learning disabilities. Maisie, Robert and the Positive Changes volunteers are involved in all aspects of the group’s work. This includes deciding which organisations the group can offer funding to, planning and making digital ‘How to…’ guides, and helping to organise the Positive Digital Walks. Their work has enabled them to learn new digital skills, as well as passing these onto others.

After borrowing iPads from Leeds Libraries’ tablet lending scheme to explore how access to tablets could support the Positive Changes volunteers to bring more digital in to their activities, the group have received a grant which will be used to purchase digital equipment which the group will use for their activities in the future.

Digital ‘How to…’ guides.

The Positive Changes volunteers are keen to share their talents with other people with learning disabilities and to inspire others to try new activities. Matt has worked closely with several members of the group to coproduce short ‘How to…’ video guides which help people to learn new skills, from Zumba to sign language.

This work is important as traditional digital instruction guides can be inaccessible for people with learning disabilities. These ‘How to…’ guides are made by people with learning disabilities, for people with learning disabilities. The Positive Changes group are inspiring their peers to try new activities while building their own skills and confidence.

The Positive Changes group have worked closely with 100% Digital Leeds to make accessible guides which can help people to complete activities online, such as using google maps to plan a journey.

Follow this link to see the Positive Changes ‘How to…’ guides.

Video guide on how to use Google

Positive Digital Walks

Working closely with the 100% Digital team, the Positive Changes group organised Positive Digital Walks. These are an opportunity for people with learning disabilities to visit a new place in Leeds, get some exercise and to be social.

There are always a range of digital activities available for people on the walks, from using apps to identify bird songs to using apps which can count steps and help people improve their fitness. This means that staff and members can experiment with digital technologies in a non-threatening environment where there is support on hand.

There are many Leeds groups who attend the walks, including the Halo group from the Hamara Centre and the friendship group from LEEP One. The first walk was hosted at the Hamara Centre and was attended by over 70 people.

“It was really nice to see the Positive Changes volunteers helping our members to learn digital skills.  We are going to start using that app with the guys back at the house as I think they would get a lot out of it and it will help them to build their digital confidence.”

Staff member, Aspire

“I really enjoyed seeing a new place and learning something new.  I’ve downloaded this Seek app and I’m going to use it at home.”

Customer, Aspire


Royal Mencap are passionate about breaking down barriers to the workplace. In the United Kingdom, only 4.8% of adults with a learning disability known to adult social care in England are in paid work (NHS Digital, 2022).

One of the Positive Changes volunteers applied for his job with a video CV.  Matt has also worked closely with Positive Futures to ensure that Maisie and Robert receive the support they need to flourish in the workplace.

How to make a video CV

Next Steps

The Positive Changes project is funded until June 2024, and is working on securing funding to continue longer term. The project is looking to develop its work with a focus on supporting families and carers.

Royal Mencap will continue to work closely with 100% Digital Leeds to make digital activities fun, relevant and accessible for people with learning disabilities. They are currently working closely with Leeds City Council’s travel task group to create an accessible video guide which will show people how they can feedback on public transport.

There are also plans for more Positive Digital Walks, where people with learning disabilities will be able to enjoy a variety of digital activities.

If you would like to find out more, or are interested in working with the group, please contact:

Supporting employability for people with learning disabilities and autistic people

It is well known that having access to meaningful employment opportunities can make an incredibly positive difference to people’s lives. Being in employment usually means that people are better off financially and have access to workplace benefits such as pensions.  Furthermore, being in work can give people the chance to socialise and build their self confidence, and can offer people a routine and sense of purpose.  However, according to NHS digital, only 5.1% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England, is in paid work. 

The 100% Digital Leeds team believes that digital inclusion can help people to gain and retain employment, and our Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator has been working closely with partners in our Autism and Learning Disabilities Digital Inclusion Network, and others supporting people with learning disabilities and autistic people citywide, to improve employment outcomes for their members. 

Embedding digital inclusion into Developing You

Developing You is a free, twelve week training programme for adults with learning disabilities and autistic people, which explores issues around wellbeing and work. The group takes part in a range of activities to learn about the world of work, identifying their own skills and interests, thinking about what jobs they might be suited to, and identifying the steps they could take to get there.

Hear how previous learners have benefitted from attending the Developing You course.

100% Digital Leeds has worked with Pyramid to ensure that digital skills have been embedded into the Developing You course.  Our Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator has attended sessions to ensure that bespoke digital interventions are planned to support the needs of students, and has worked closely with tutors in the planning of the course.  She has also worked with tutors so that they feel confident signposting members for further digital support where required.

“Nicky made lots of helpful suggestions for how we could make using digital devices fun for the group and it has been great to see their confidence grow when it comes to activities like taking photographs or sending emails. Nicky shared advice and an accessible video CV guide with us which will enable members of the group who struggle to read and write apply for jobs. She also demonstrated how to use the accessible ‘Through the Maze,’ and ‘Being Employed Leeds,’ websites. These will be very useful tools for the group to use to find further social and employability opportunities in Leeds.”

Wendy, Developing You tutor.

The fourth cohort is running from September 2023. The course is open to people in the Leeds area aged 18+. Attending will not affect any entitlement to benefits that they may have. For referrals contact

Developing a guide to creating video CVs

100% Digital Leeds has worked with partners such as the Involvement Team at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) to help people create video CVs and application forms as an alternative way to apply for jobs. Making a video CV is not appealing to everyone, but it can remove barriers for people who struggle to read and write or who may be overwhelmed by traditional application forms. 

A written and video guide coproduced with people with learning disabilities has been created for people to use at home, or for organisations to use with their members. The guides can be accessed via the Being Employed Leeds website.

A video guide to creating video CVs

A member of the People Matters Employability Group, was recently successful in securing part time employment after creating a video CV:

“I applied for my job as a Community Connector with a video CV. We had a session at People Matters where we were taught about video CVs, and we were shown how to make them step by step. It was much easier for me to make a video CV than to make a written CV as it was quicker, and I didn’t have to worry as much about having to type up lots of words which takes a long time. I’d like other people with learning disabilities to learn about video CVs too as they can take away a barrier to getting a job, especially for people who can’t read and write very well. Having a job is important for me and it is incredibly important for other people with learning disabilities too. It means that I get out of the house, and I get to meet people regularly. It gives me a really good feeling to know that I am helping people. It also gives me money to spend on the things that I want and enables me to have a better quality of life.”

Robert, Community Connector at People Matters.

Inclusive employment film

Using money awarded from Inclusion International, 100% Digital Leeds worked with Pyramid and a team of people with learning disabilities to create a film to educate employers on how they can make their workplaces more inclusive, including supporting digital inclusion and improving access to accessible technologies.

The film, which launched in April 2023 with a screening at Leeds Industrial Museum, explores what’s already happening in the city, how organisations can remove barriers, and how workplaces can benefit from having people with learning disabilities as part of their team. 

Employment in Leeds video

Since its completion, the film has also been shared internationally at an Inclusion International workshop where it was viewed and well received by partners in South America, India, Africa and Europe. It was screened in Leeds market for Learning Disability Week and at the LEEP 1/Advonet Annual General Meeting (AGM).  It has since been shared with a range of local and national partners including REED, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and Touchstone. There are plans to screen the film at the next Leeds Inclusive Employment Forum. 

“The video not just for us, it is for all people. There are other people with disabilities who also want to think about getting jobs. We need a lot of help, everyone needs to be trying.”

Oliver, group member at Pyramid.

Future plans

100% Digital Leeds will continue to work on digital inclusion projects for people with learning disabilities, and will have a focus on projects that help people to manage their money and to access employment opportunities. Please contact our Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator if you are interested in working together or finding out more: