Community Calling Case Study

O2 and Hubbub launched the Community Calling campaign in Leeds in January 2021. The campaign gifts smartphones with free data, calls and texts to digitally excluded people. 100% Digital Leeds worked closely with Hubbub to coordinate the distribution of phones through our networks of community partners across the city. As well as working collaboratively with our partners in Leeds, we also worked with colleagues in the region to distribute phones across West Yorkshire.

In three phases during 2021, the 100% Digital Leeds team distributed 1,350 phones to organisations supporting digitally excluded people throughout Leeds. We also arranged for 500 phones to be distributed to our contacts in Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees. This has enabled people across the region to get online to keep in touch with friends and family, access digital services, learn new skills and participate in an increasingly digital world.

Project Delivery

To distribute and deliver the phones, the 100% Digital Leeds team identified community partners who support a range of people from different Communities of Interest. We asked those organisations to identify people who were among the most isolated or excluded so that the phones would go to beneficiaries who really needed them. Priority was given to service-users who did not have a phone, could not afford to get online or could not access the internet independently.

All of the organisations that received phones work with people who are more likely to be digitally excluded, many of whom face multiple barriers to getting online. We worked with organisations supporting a wide range of people including:

  • Care home residents
  • Gypsy and Traveller families
  • Older people
  • People living in poverty or on a low income
  • People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • People with learning disabilities and autistic people
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Women and girls

Over 80 third sector organisations in Leeds received phones through the distribution networks that we set up with our community partners.

100% Digital Leeds networks

100% Digital Leeds has a number of digital inclusion networks bringing together partners who support specific communities. 

The success of Community Calling in Leeds relied on multiple organisations working together to deliver phones to digitally excluded people. Thanks to our well-established relationships with partners in the third sector, 100% Digital Leeds could mobilise quickly to distribute the phones. This was important to ensure that the full 12-months of free calls and data could be used by beneficiaries.

The organisations have all supported each beneficiary to make the most of the device they’ve been given. This is a direct result of the work that 100% Digital Leeds has done with each of those partners to help them understand the person-centred approach to supporting people to become more digitally included.

100% Digital Leeds has excellent relationships with the organisations we work with, and they have trusted relationships with their service users. We can move quickly to coordinate device distribution at scale and ensure that phones go to people who most need them. The organisations we work with know their service users best, so they had the autonomy to choose the beneficiaries who would receive phones. Some organisations acted as distribution centres for smaller organisations who work with the same Communities of Interest.

Gifting or lending?

100% Digital Leeds has helped to set up dozens of device lending schemes run by different organisations across the city. Lending schemes are important, and a loan may be appropriate for some people as a short-term response or if they have an immediate need. But lending is unlikely to be a long-enough intervention for people with very low digital skills or for those who are the most digitally excluded.

There are additional benefits to beneficiaries being gifted a device rather than being lent a device. These include higher levels of:

  • Certainty – recipients of gifted devices are safe in the knowledge that their device won’t be recalled at the end of a loan period.
  • Security – recipients can fully utilise features that they may not feel comfortable using on a shared device. This could include keeping personal photos and messages on the device, installing their own apps, creating their own bookmarks and using websites and tools that store personal data and passwords.
  • Ownership – each recipient can take ownership of their own digital development. They are free to use the device in ways that are meaningful for them and learn new skills at their own pace over a longer timeframe.
  • Trust – giving a device to someone can strengthen the trusted relationship between the recipient and the organisation.  


Testimonials from some of the organisations who took part in the Community Calling scheme:

“I think the smartphones have been one of the most effective interventions we’ve done, not just because of the benefits of the device and data but the impact on clients’ self-esteem. One client was very socially isolated and was lacking the digital means to help address this. Since he has had the smartphone, he has been able to connect with friends on Facebook and set up an email to enable me to send him signposting information. The impact on his mental health has been very noticeable and he is very appreciative.”

Community Links Wellbeing Coordinator

“My client moved to the UK a couple of years ago to support her relative with childcare. She was reliant on her family for everything but was desperate to be self-sufficient. She also felt lonely and isolated due to being alone in the house during the daytime and was tearful and emotional during our initial conversations. This isolation caused her great anxiety, affected her sleep and she was taking anti-depressants prescribed by her GP”

Community Links Wellbeing Coordinator

“The Client told me that she felt happy, lighter, and excited about having her own phone. It meant that she could keep in touch with relatives abroad, look for jobs and it gave her a bit of hope for the future. She also felt liberated simply because of having her own phone and her own telephone number, so she could now access social activities, and be her own independent person. At the exit appointment the Client told me that receiving the phone was a turning point in her life, as she felt connected to the outside world and was able to take control of her life again.”

Community Links Wellbeing Coordinator

“One person could have been viewed as a high-risk donation, with the phone at risk of being sold or lost due to high levels of substance use. But she still has her phone after 12 months. She uses it to stay in touch with family, combat isolation and making calls for her appointments. Her wellbeing has improved over the past year and her substance use has significantly decreased.”

Basis Yorkshire

“SG is an Eastern European man sleeping rough and known to St Anne’s. He was given a Community Calling phone when he presented at a City Square food provision. He used the phone and data to contact his family via social media. He is now reunited with his family and living with his brother.”

St. Anne’s Community Services

“CH was an active heroin user and a St Anne’s service user for a number of years who had struggled to find and maintain secure accommodation. In March 2020 he was placed in temporary emergency accommodation and supported to engage with Forward Leeds. Saviour Trust were able to find him accommodation with a friend, but that relationship broke down. CH visited St Anne’s to use their PCs to bid on Housing Leeds properties. He was offered a Community Calling smartphone with data to allow him to spend more time active bidding and was able to secure a property. He no longer presents at St Anne’s but is often seen around town by staff and always stops to show them he’s still got his phone and to thank them.”

St. Anne’s Community Services

“KB and JB came to St Anne’s for support ending a tenancy. Having no access to a phone meant they needed to spend a lot of time at St Anne’s waiting for calls from Leeds Housing Options, who had no other way to contact them. Having a smartphone has allowed them to be less reliant on St Anne’s staff and more independent in managing their situation. They have now both been placed in temporary accommodation. KB struggles with low mood and is thankful to be able to use the phone and data to watch a film or listen to music, both of which help him manage his mental health.”

St. Anne’s Community Services

“RM has led a life of trauma and chaos. His past has affected his mental health and he struggles to control his emotions and temper. As a result, he has had frequent incidents at St Anne’s when he has been verbally abusive and physically threatening to staff and other service users. He was given a Community Calling smartphone to access tools that help him deescalate and manage his emotions, such as listening to music and watching films. He has since been placed in temporary accommodation and being able to access entertainment media at home on his phone has helped him manage his mental health and stay home and “out of trouble”. Since being gifted the smartphone RM has spent more time at home St Anne’s have seen him in fewer incidents.”

St. Anne’s Community Services

“Thank you for the gift, which helped me speak with my family back home in Africa. Talking with my family and community groups in the UK during the lockdown and beyond made me feel less isolated and more engaged without the stress of topping up. As a person with no income and not allowed to work, you can imagine how stressful not being able to meet or speak with people is. This scheme helped me a lot and I am very grateful for the support!”

Recipient of a phone via Unleashing Refugee Potential

Creative digital storytelling workshops with LEEDS2023

A series of creative digital storytelling workshops

100% Digital Leeds are pleased to be partnering with LEEDS 2023 to offer a series of free workshops to partners, making creative digital skills and software more accessible to Leeds communities, an idea born via the Arts and Culture Digital Inclusion Network. The workshops are free, assume no prior digital skills, utilise free digital tools, and are led by experts from across Leeds’s creative industries. Together, we break down the perceptions that digital software is difficult to use, expensive and inaccessible to anyone outside of creative industries. The various software packages highlighted are free, powerful and support the creation of high-quality content.

At LEEDS 2023 we are building up to our year of culture, letting culture loose across the city. These upskilling workshops are one of the ways we are supporting artists, creatives, organisations and anyone who wants to get involved to learn new skills. It has been great to partner with 100% Digital Leeds on this programme to ensure that it reaches people across the city. Every workshop is free, we are offering bus fare for anyone that needs it, and we are creating online versions for people who can’t attend. We want to make sure that these workshops are open to everyone.

Adam Sas-Skowronski, Creative Technologist, LEEDS2023

The workshop series covers tools needed for capturing, creating, and sharing engaging digital content with workshops on the basics of video editing, sound recording, image editing, and streaming. Each workshop gives attendees the skills and knowledge needed to share their stories, and the stories of the people and communities they work with and in, using free and easy to use digital tools.

The workshops to date

Two workshops have taken place so far: ‘Audio editing with Audacity’ and ‘Video editing with DaVinci Resolve’.

Our aim is to give workshop participants the basic skills they need to begin experimenting and exploring their creative skills. We have already run workshops on the basics of video editing, using the program DaVinci Resolve which was lead by Northern Film School academic Lee Robinson, and sound editing on Audacity, which was lead by BBC Radio Leeds Producer Dan Purvis. The overwhelming feedback is that we should run more.

Adam Sas-Skowronski, Creative Technologist, LEEDS2023


We have seen a lot of interest and ‘buzz’ around the series and both the first and second workshops in the series were sell-out events, with the second workshop being a full house on the day.

Tweet from Amy Hearn

Across workshops one and two over 50 people have booked spaces and the workshops have seen a 70% attendance rate on the day. The in-person events in the city centre have attracted people from across Leeds with attendees travelling from Armley, Guiseley, Harehills, Kirkstall, Moortown, Woodhouse, and Yeadon.

Attendance has been cross-sector:

  • around half to two thirds of attendees represent community or third sector
  • around a third attendees came from the creative industries
  • a small percentage attended from the public and education sectors

We’ve been pleased to see engagement from some of 100% Digital Leeds’s most valued digital inclusion delivery partners from across Leeds and supporting a range of Communities of Interest, including Richmond Hill Elderly Action, Proverbs 31 Woman, People Matters, The Highrise Project, Drighlington Digital and GIPSIL – Our Way Leeds, and community arts organisations supporting digital inclusion such as Open Source Arts, Pyramid, and Space2. We have also had support from third sector infrastructure partners in promoting the workshops.

Tweet from Forum Central

Reasons for attending the workshops include:

  • an interest in podcasting
  • developing skills to be later shared with communities
  • creating engaging community learning resources
  • recording community history and creating digital archives
  • supporting hybrid working and delivery
  • capturing and sharing organisational impact
  • creating content, from fitness videos to sermons

Impact and evaluation

On a scale of 1 to 5, 100% of responders said the workshops delivered to date rated as a 4 or 5 in terms of being both engaging and user friendly. Attendees also rated as a 4 or 5 the likelihood of them recommending the workshop series to a friend or attending another workshop themselves. 

Tweet from Donna Waldron

Comments from attendees are similarly overwhelmingly positive:

“I have broken the fear of trying a new software so thank you. I am left with plenty of materials to practice on at home and cannot wait for the next workshop.”

“I liked how accessible it felt, I am completely new to using audacity and sound and this felt really user friendly

“I was nervous that it the session would be full of people that work in creative technology but such an interesting mix of people, professions, ages, and reasons for attending.”

It was great, I learned a lot – some of what I learned is going to save me a lot of time in my current work”

“I liked this workshop it was very engaging and I got to learn as I went along.”

“I learned loads and will definitely be signing up for another”.

Workshop attendees
Tweet from Highrise Project

Nearly half have of those who completed the evaluation commented that they would have liked the workshop to be longer so we have taken that on board and future sessions will last two hours rather than the originally planned 90 minutes. We will also ask attendees to arrive at the workshop 15 minuets before the start time to ensure we’re ready to start the workshop content promptly.

Future workshops

The rest of the series will see sessions on similar creative digital storytelling themes including:

  • Social media training for Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok
  • Interactive storytelling on Twine
  • Livestream using OBS, Twitch, YouTube Live and Restream
  • Basics of video game making using Unity

Workshops are announced on a month-by-month basis and the next session, ‘Image editing with GoDaddy Studio’ on Wednesday 22nd June, is now open for booking via Eventbrite.

Tweet from 100% Digital Leeds

Keep an eye on LEEDS 2023 and 100% Digital Leeds social accounts for news of future workshops and follow 100% digital Leeds on Eventbrite to book free tickets when the events go live.

LGA Pathfinder Workshop Two

Leeds is one of nine councils awarded funding as part of the Local Government Association (LGA) Digital Pathfinders Programme, designed to support councils seeking to innovate and develop pioneering initiatives to advance digital inclusion, digital connectivity, and cyber security. 100% Digital Leeds have been funded to develop a Community-based Model to Increase Digital Inclusion and run a series of related workshops with five councils selected by LGA. Interested parties can follow our progress on the project Miro board. The resulting model will be published and launched in December this year.

Workshop two: Barriers, assets, and opportunities

The second workshop in the series of four broke down stage two of the community-based model. The session built upon the content of the previous, thinking about how we can understand the digital inclusion needs of the target community then use a strengths-based approach to identify potential solutions to overcoming those barriers.

We were joined by representatives from Coventry, East Riding of Yorkshire, West Berkshire, Plymouth, and London Borough of Bexley councils. These partners are working with us to sense-check the model, ensuring the content is useful for Local Authorities with a different geographical or demographic make up to Leeds, and councils at different points in their digital inclusion journey.

The session started with time for further reflection on workshop one. There were additional questions from partners on the background of 100% Digital Leeds, how Leeds City Council were motivated to take action on digital inclusion, and where the initial investment came from. These questions prompted us to include some additional context as a preface to the written model. This will take the form of links to existing pieces on the Digital Inclusion Toolkit, the site that will host the final model. Overall, partners reflected on  how content could be adapted to fit the needs of their council, and some have already begun to initiate changes in their practice as a result

“It’s changed my mindset on how to approach digital inclusion – rather than thinking about who is already doing it, I’m thinking about who has service users who could really benefit from digital within that setting?”

Workshop attendee

Stage two content and feedback

Stage two – Barriers, assets, and opportunities – has the following steps:

  1. Gathering information
  2. Identifying the barriers
  3. Identifying the assets
  4. Identifying the opportunities to do more

Discussions included:

  • understanding how we workshop with partners to gather insights needed to coproduce a community-based digital inclusion intervention
  • talking about barriers in the context of both the issues that cause Leeds residents to be digital excluded and the things in the way of community partners delivering more digital inclusion support
  • how we use a strengths-based approach to embed digital inclusion support into existing services in a way that is efficient and effective.

“The content is relatable and applicable, even considering the differences between a city like Leeds and a large, rural authority.”

Workshop attendee

The partnering authorities were overwhelmingly positive in their feedback but had some ideas on how the session content could be made even better. As a result of this feedback we will:

  • Include more example mini case-studies in the model, helping those using the model to understand how the principles might be applied in different contexts, such as with different communities
  • Emphasise the importance of digital inclusion awareness workshops as an opportunity to bring whole staff teams onboard from the start and have everyone’s voice heard
  • Include practical examples of how we collate information for signposting and keep organisations up to date with opportunities
  • Include more information on the importance of building and maintaining relationships with partners and workshopping ideas around resource-dependant maximisation of digital inclusion support to the success of digital funding bids

The workshop rounded off with time for partners to reflect on the programme as a whole and how working closely with the 100% Digital Leeds team has made an impact to date. We will showcase examples of how involvement in the programme has positively influenced the plans of partnering councils as part of the launch event which will take place towards the end of the year.

“It’s triggered questions for me about what this could look like in my authority and helped me to see how it could work within my own role.”

Workshop attendee

Digital arts participation project for Arts in Care Homes Day

100% Digital Leeds and partners are pulling together a programme of creative digital opportunities for care providers as part of Arts in Care Homes Day (24th September). This project brings together 100% Digital Leeds’s Arts and Culture Digital Inclusion Network and work with care homes.

The programme will support:

  • care providers to offer remote access to arts and culture activities
  • arts organisations to reach care provider audiences
  • arts organisations to form new partnerships with care providers
  • care providers to develop their digital inclusion offer

Care providers could include: care homes, hospitals, day services, supported living, recovery hubs, and hospices.

Improving arts and culture participation

Improved access to arts and culture programming supports the improved health and wellbeing of those who are cared for by care providers:

The Baring Foundation (2011) report An Evidence Review of the Impact of
Participatory Arts on Older People summarises some of the benefits:

  • Improving mental wellbeing, increased confidence, and increased self-esteem.
  • Embracing new and positive aspects to their identity and life role.
  • Counterbalancing the mental wellbeing difficulties associated with periods of loss which can increase the risk of low mood, anxiety and social isolation.
  • Improving cognitive functioning, communication and memory.
  • Increased sense of pleasure, enjoyment of life, and creative thinking.

The programme of events

The programme will be made up of events and activities that are:

  • Cultural, creative, or artistic
  • Free to access
  • Accessible remotely via a digital tool such as Zoom
  • Taking place on Arts in Care Homes Day or the following week (between 24th and 30th September)
  • Suitable for some or all people being supported by care providers – older people, people with dementia, people with learning disabilities, and disabled people
  • Suitable for care providers to engage with as a group in a communal area.

As there is no funding available to support this project we envisage that the programme will for the most part be made up of suitable events and activities from organisations’ existing programming, or taster sessions designed to showcase existing or future programming.

How to get involved

The project will be launched with a webinar on Friday 1st July, 10.30-11am, when we will release an expression of interest process for both arts organisations and care providers who would like to take part in the programme. The webinar will be recorded and shared online.

We’re keen to hear from partners who would like to help shape the project or share experience and best practice to help strengthen the project. There is a project steering group made up of representatives from arts organisations, care homes, and other relevant organisations which partners are also able to join. Contact

LGA Pathfinder Workshop One

Leeds is one of nine councils awarded funding as part of the Local Government Association (LGA) Digital Pathfinders Programme, designed to support councils seeking to innovate and develop pioneering initiatives to advance digital inclusion, digital connectivity, and cyber security. 100% Digital Leeds have been funded to develop a Community-based Model to Increase Digital Inclusion and run a series of related workshops with five councils selected by LGA. Interested parties can follow our progress on the project Miro board and we’ll publish an update blog after each workshop. The resulting model will be published and launched in December this year.

Workshop one: Focus and partnerships

 Workshop one took place in mid-April. As well as starting to get to know the partnering councils and understand their digital inclusion journey so far, the first workshop was an opportunity to break down the first stage of the model.

Stage one – Focus and partnerships – has the following steps:

  1. Understanding the concept of a community-based approach to digital inclusion
  2. Identifying the target community
  3. Identifying key partners
  4. Engaging key partners and keeping them engaged

Initial feedback on stage one from partnering councils was positive. Workshop attendees identified the concept of working in partnership with the voluntary sector as a good fit and appreciated the focus on practical solutions in relation to existing work. When writing the model, the 100% Digital Leeds team recognised that in comparison to many other councils across the UK, we have a well-established and resourced team. Capacity could be a potential barrier to other councils taking on the community-based model.

These concerns were mirrored by the partnering councils, with key issues being identified as:

  • Challenges with capacity for those with small teams, or without a team
  • The scope of the digital inclusion challenge and knowing where to start
  • Lack of funding and resource to support the development of digital inclusion initiatives
  • The need for a compelling offer to engage organisations with limited capacity

These are all issues that are addressed in the model but it’s clear that we need to put more focus on highlighting practical solutions in the final published version.

Free creative digital storytelling workshops

LEEDS 2023 are excited to be working on a series of free workshops in partnership with 100% Digital Leeds that aim to make creative software training more accessible to Leeds communities.

Each workshop will give you new ways to share your own stories and the stories of the people you work with using free and easy to use digital tools. They’ll cover easy video editing, sound recording, image editing, and other skills great for capturing and sharing the impact of your work and creating engaging content for your social media or website.

The same skills could be brought into your creative events programming and used to help the people and communities you work with to record and share their stories and creative work, upskill them and teach them new skills. These free workshops will be breaking down the perceptions that digital software’s are difficult to use, expensive and inaccessible.

Starting at the end of April, and hosted at ‘Platform’ near the Leeds Train station; these monthly workshops will focus on learning how to use free and simple digital tools, resources, and software, with each workshop covering a different skill. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner or not confident in your digital skills, the workshops will cover all the basics and everything you need to know to make the most of the software after the session.

The workshops are for anyone who is new to digital design software, people that want to learn new skills for themselves or to share with the people and communities they work with, or anyone who wants to explore new ways to make digital content. These workshops will enable you to make artworks and create digital content for your organisation or businesses, and will give everyone taking part new skills to use as part of LEEDS 2023 year of culture.

Open to anyone over the age of 18, all the workshops will be recorded and be accessible online with BSL translation shortly after the sessions. All participants will be given the option of claiming a free First bus Day rider if needed to attend the workshops.

Sign up to the events will open end the end of March with the first session running April 27th 17:30 – 19:00.

Please keep an eye out on LEEDS 2023 and 100% Digital Leeds social accounts for more updates, and follow 100% digital Leeds on Eventbrite to book free tickets when the events go live.

Digital inclusion and food poverty

“I’ve sent people to the library to access a computer because if they’re looking for jobs, I mean… everything’s online, they don’t accept written applications, it’s got to be online.”

Volunteer, St. Cross Church Food Bank in Middleton

People experiencing food poverty are likely to also be experiencing digital poverty. Organisations supporting people experiencing food poverty are well placed to identify digitally excluded people and signpost them to the help they need to get online.

Trussell Trust’s partnership with Vodafone on the ‘Vodafone Together’ scheme is a national example of how food banks and organisations supporting digital inclusion can come together to identify families living with digital poverty and offer them support, in this instance providing free connectivity for up to a year.

Similarly, 100% Digital Leeds has worked with Food Banks and other partners in Leeds, providing access to digital devices and training, equipping staff and volunteers to provide and signpost to digital inclusion support, and we’re keen to do more.

Understanding digital poverty

The pandemic has caused many people to use the internet in new ways. According to the Lloyds Consumer Digital Index 2020 saw 1.5 million people get online for the first time, with many others spending far longer online than in previous years. Many first time users of the internet during the crisis have been driven by need – nearly three-in-four are people now shopping online for groceries or clothing, for example.

However, the same report shows that 2.5 million people in the UK are currently without internet access, leaving millions of people cut off from engaging with the digital world. 55% of those offline earn under £20,000 and, while there are multiple barriers to digital inclusion, for those on low incomes affordability is often the biggest factor.  

29% of internet users come into the ‘very low engagement’ category, meaning they don’t go online much at all. Nearly half (44%) of this category earn less than £20,000 per year. Some of these have limited access to the internet because they are experiencing ‘data poverty’, meaning they’re not able to afford a sufficient, private and secure internet connection to meet essential needs.

For those on a low income, accessing the internet costs more and is less reliable. Many people can’t afford or don’t have a good enough credit rating to get a contract for WiFi at home, leaving them relying on mobile phones and 4G data. Those who can’t afford a high enough monthly 4G allowance may consistently run out of data and be left without the ability to get online for part of the month. Those who can’t afford (or are otherwise unable to access) a data contract at all are left paying for data on a ‘Pay As You Go’ basis – the most expensive and least reliable way to access the internet.  

Digital and data poverty means it’s much harder to apply for jobs online, manage money online, or quickly access essential services such as health and benefits. It means children can’t do school work online, or keep in touch with their friends. There’s an insightful blog post written by one of our partners, Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network, about the data and cost involved when doing some things online like video calling.

As well as making it easier for people to access services and keep on top of things, being online actually saves people money – people with the most digital engagement also pay less for important bills such as utilities, saving an average of £228 per year – 2.5 times more than those internet users with low engagement.

The people who would most benefit from being online are, more often than not, those who find it hardest to get online. 100% Digital Leeds is working with partners across the city – including Food Banks – to identify people experiencing digital poverty and other forms of digital exclusion and get them the support they need. Here are some examples of our work so far:

Supporting Food Banks to provide devices and data

100% Digital Leeds has worked with Food Banks and organisations providing food parcel provision to support the connectivity of people experiencing digital poverty.

100% Digital Leeds’s partnership with Community Calling, a project by Hubbub and O2 to gift refurbished smartphones to people who need them, has meant that organisations like Woodhouse Community Centre and New Wortley Community Centre have been able to gift reconditioned devices with a year’s free 4G data, calls, and texts to those in need via food parcels as part of their role as Community Care Hubs, ensuring that the most vulnerable people in the city have had access to support during the pandemic.

As part of their development as Digital Health Hubs, in partnership with 100% Digital Leeds and Local Care Partnerships, community organisations like Hamara Healthy Living Centre and Holbeck Together are able to loan tablets with 4G data via their in-house Tablet Lending Schemes, or gift smartphones with 4G data via the Community Calling scheme to members of the community experiencing digital poverty, many of whom have been identified and supported when accessing food bank services.

Tweet from Holbeck Together

Supporting Food Banks to signpost to services

100% Digital Leeds worked with Leeds South and East Foodbank in 2019 to trial and then implement a scheme that meant their food bank volunteers have access to digital devices with data, allowing fast and efficient signposting to services as well as supporting the administration of food bank services. A similar approach has also been implemented at Hamara Healthy Living Centre, amongst others, to great success.

Say we’ve got someone who comes in with a food voucher, but he or she’s got other problems.  Say they might have a drink problem.  We don’t have a great deal of literature, but with [the iPad] we can go on and say ‘right, you need to go to Forward Leeds.’  Or look up organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau, and it means we get reliable and up-to-date information.”

Barbara, St Cross Church Food Bank in Middleton

Supporting community organisations to signpost to Food Banks

100% Digital Leeds work with a wider range of partners from across all sectors, supporting them to better understand the potential digital exclusion of their service users and put the right support in place for them.

Nurture@Kentmere are a parent-led community support group breaking down the barriers of isolation that often come with parenthood. They have created a safe, non-judgmental environment for parents and carers of young children to come together and access various support services, including helping people to get online. Having access to digital equipment has allowed the group to support members to find out about and access the services they need, including Food Banks.

“We had a member contact us as their friend had no food or warm clothes, so we were able to coordinate with our local charity shop to organise some clothing, as well as making a referral to a food bank and getting as much information as possible.  The outcome of this was that we were able to provide the person with some donated clothes to keep them warm, food, and information on next steps.”

Member, Nurture@Kentmere

Supporting access to the newly digitised NHS Healthy Start Scheme

100% Digital Leeds is working with Zest to ensure that people in Leeds are supported to access the NHS Healthy Start scheme which will be digital only from April this year. Taking the scheme online makes it difficult for those without the equipment, skills, and confidence to apply for this much needed and under-utilised support. This on-going partnership has seen organisations across the city trained to support access to the scheme, including identifying digital exclusion and signposting to further support.

Next Steps

100% Digital Leeds is pleased to partner with Leeds Food Aid Network and we look forward to working more closely with network members to support the digital inclusion of people experiencing food and digital poverty.  Read more about the 100% Digital Leeds approach.

Digital Health Hub Launches in South Leeds

Community organisations in south Leeds have been working with 100% Digital Leeds and Beeston and Middleton Local Care Partnership to develop a local network of Digital Health Hubs, places in the community where people can go to get support to get online and make the most of the internet to improve their health and wellbeing.

Next week the Digital Health Hubs are hosting a series of launch events, giving local people and partners the opportunity to find out more about the organisation’s services as well as the digital support on offer. Digital support includes helping people to develop their skills, lending and gifting digital equipment to those who can’t afford it, and help accessing health tools such as the NHS app, online GP services, and prescriptions.

A chance for partner organisations to offer their services to local communities

The launches are an opportunity for partners to reach local communities, and support will be on offer from a range of organisations and services including: Leeds Cancer Awareness Project offering information about early signs and symptoms of cancer, NHS screening, ways to reduce risk and the importance of early detection; Leeds Libraries supporting people to access their free online services like eBooks, online newspapers and magazines, and family history research tools; Patient Ambassadors supporting people in accessing healthcare appropriately for them; Green Doctors offering advice on utility bills including tariff comparison and switching, issues with energy suppliers, Priority Services Register sign up for vulnerable people, claiming the Warm Home Discount, and energy efficiency advice to save energy and use heating controls effectively.

There’s still time for organisations to partner with the Digital Health Hubs, by offering their services as part of the upcoming launch events and similarly supporting the delivery of the Digital Health Hub offer going forward.

Attend our launch events and find out about support available in the local community including help getting online

The launches are free and open for anyone in the community to drop-in, find out what’s available at their local centre, and learn more about digital support on offer. Partners are welcome to drop by to find out more about the Digital Health Hub offer, identify opportunities for signposting, and explore opportunities for partnership.

Hamara Health and Wellbeing Day

Wednesday 19th January, 11am – 3pm at Hamara Healthy Living Centre, Tempest Road, Beeston, LS11 6RD

An event to assist people with the things that matter the most to them. Attendees can expect Tai Chi, a houseplant sale, cancer screening, blood pressure checks and social prescribing, as well as digital support including skills support, equipment lending, and support to access health tools and apps. More information about Hamara.

Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation (BITMO): Improve Your Wellbeing Day

Wednesday 19th January, 12noon – 3pm at BITMOs Gate, Belle Isle, Leeds LS10 3QH

Attendees can access support to improve their emotional and physical health by connecting with their community. This includes accessing social activities, exercise and movement classes, and health services, online and in person. Digital support will be available including skills support, equipment lending, and support to access health tools and apps. More about Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation.

Middleton Elderly Aid Digital Health Hub Launch

Thursday 20th January, 1.30 – 3.30pm at Middleton Elderly Aid Social Centre, Acre Road, Middleton, LS10 4LF

A range of organisations will be available to help with anything from bus passes and blue badges to blood pressure checks, cancer screenings, social prescribing, and saving money on utility bills. People will be on hand to help people use their mobile phone, tablet or laptop while enjoying cake and a hot drink. More about Middleton Elderly Aid.

Holbeck Together Digital Health Hub Launch

Friday 28th January, 10am – 12noon at St Matthew’s St Community Centre, Holbeck, Leeds LS11 9NR

Find out more about the digital health hub offer including support to develop digital skills, equipment available for loan, and the range of services available at Holbeck Together and from other local partners.

What are Digital Health Hubs?

Digital Health Hubs are local spaces with friendly people ready to help the community build their skills and confidence, get online, and use the tools that can make it easier for them to manage their health and wellbeing. This includes supporting people to: engage with the NHS in the way that works best for them; make the most of tools that can help them understand and manage existing health conditions; use digital to improve wider determinants of health such as employment, housing, social inclusion, and financial inclusion.

Each organisation chosen to be a Digital Health Hub is at the heart of their local community, offering bespoke support services designed to best meet the needs of the community they work with and in. They’re trusted places where people feel safe and welcome. By working with key local organisations to embed digital inclusion support into existing services we can reach people where they are and utilise staff skills and knowledge of the local area and community, supporting a person-centred and holistic approach.

Each Digital Health Hub offer is different, designed to best meet the needs of the community, but they all have a core offer in common. Communities can get free support to borrow digital equipment with data and develop their digital skills and confidence to do what they would like to do online, like keeping in touch with family and friends or getting a food shop delivered. Staff can help people get set up with digital health tools like the NHS App to learn how to use the internet to access essential services like booking health appointments, managing prescriptions, and attend video appointments. These digital support services are embedded across each organisation’s wider offer, making the most of all opportunities to engage the community with motivational conversations and highlight the potential personal benefits of engaging with digital.

100% Digital Leeds’ role in supporting the development of Digital Health Hubs

100% Digital Leeds are working with Local Care Partnerships to develop a place-based approach to digital inclusion to improve health participation. Learning from the success of partnering with Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours to develop Leeds’s first Digital Health Hub the Digital Health Hub model is at the core of the 100% Digital Leeds approach. The approach utilises the existing place-based cross-sector network to identify the trusted community partners with bases in the area and bring them together to develop their digital inclusion offer as a network. The initial focus is on developing digital infrastructure and building community capacity for delivering digital inclusion support. The LCP’s health partners help their third sector colleagues to understand the specific health needs of the local community and design bespoke digital inclusion interventions around those needs, to support improved health outcomes and increase digital health participation. Further partners from both community and health sectors support community engagement with the Digital Health Hubs through signposting. Sharing learning, resource, and best practice in such a way makes the development process as effective and efficient as possible, ensures each Digital Health Hub offer complements the others, and strengthens existing cross-sector relationships, making for more successful partnerships going forward.

The development of the Beeston and Middleton Digital Health Hub Network

100% Digital Leeds developed the place-based approach to digital inclusion to improve health participation working with Beeston and Middleton Local Care Partnership to develop Beeston and Middleton Digital Health Hub Network. £45,000 funding was made available for partner organisations to develop as Digital Health Hubs, paying for digital infrastructure such as equipment and connectivity, or staff capacity to develop and implement the project. Although developed in partnership, each Digital Health Hub is unique, building on the organisation’s existing assets, embedded within existing services and offers, and designed to meet the specific needs of the local community. Though each Digital Health Hub is an accessible space at the heart of the local community with a shared a core digital inclusion offer, each organisation has taken their own unique approach to developing their Digital Health Hub offer.

Hamara Healthy Living Centre

Hamara Healthy Living Centre in the heart of Beeston has over 20 years of supporting the diverse community with various health and support needs. They offer various activities to support members to stay active and connected to their community. As part of the digital health hub offer they are providing 1:1 digital support sessions, group training on using various health management apps including the NHS app and have a tablet lending scheme which comes with data for use in homes where there is no Wi-Fi. Members are also able to make an appointment at the centre to use the devices in reception and café area. Staff have received Digital Champion training ensuring that digital inclusion needs are considered as part of a holistic conversation whenever a person visits the centre, from using the foodbank to attending an ESOL lesson, and everything in between. They received funding to improve the centre’s Wi-Fi, buy equipment for use in the centre and as part of their tablet lending scheme, and to support staff capacity to develop and implement the project.

Middleton Elderly Aid

Middleton Elderly Aid aims to promote independence amongst the over 60s living in the Middleton area, through a range of activities and services. They are a dedicated organisation with trusted people on hand to help members to access the relevant tools and information to improve their health and wellbeing and gain the skills and confidence to do more digitally. As well as offering support in centre through digital classes Middleton Elderly Aid have embedded the offer into their outreach, engaging people with digital inclusion in their homes and helping with online services such as ordering repeat prescriptions, booking appointments, and accessing apps for weight loss, sleeping, exercise, and meditation. They support the improved connectivity of their members with Wi-Fi at the centre and a tablet lending scheme. They received funding to support staff capacity to deliver and implement the project.

Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation

Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation – known locally as BITMO – works on behalf of Leeds City Council to manage around 1,900 homes in the Belle Isle area. As well as being responsible for all the usual landlord tasks, such as collecting rent and repairing homes, BITMO also provides access to employment, digital, health and money support to its tenants via the GATE. The GATE is a community resource centre at the side of the housing office in the heart of Belle Isle. Staff from BITMO’s GATE support the community to access online health services using equipment in centre or at home via their tablet lending scheme. Focusing on the development of digital inclusion support for their Retirement Life Residents, BITMO have partnered with Belle Isle Senior Action on the delivery of the project and have received funding to expand connectivity into Retirement Life community spaces, purchase tablets for use in the centres and as part of their tablet lending scheme, and staff capacity for project delivery. They are engaging their older members by embedding digital support within social activity such as bingo and coffee mornings and have trained their wardens to champion digital as part of their community outreach role.

Holbeck together

Holbeck together were established as a Neighbourhood Network Scheme in 1992 to support older people living in Holbeck. Drawing on these experiences and expertise, they now welcome people from all generations. They provide a variety of services, activities and opportunities for people to get involved locally. Many activities are specifically for people in later years of living, others for younger people and some for all ages. They can support with any digital queries on a one to one basis via appointment or drop in and have a device lending scheme with data included. They received funding to invest in improving the connectivity of their community space, and to add a dedicated Digital Inclusion Officer role to their organisational structure.

MHA Communities South Leeds

MHA Communities South Leeds support older people to stay living independently in their own homes for as long as possible, with the best possible quality of life. Through befriending, lunch clubs, assisted shopping, activity and friendship sessions, outings, and escorts to appointments MHA help to tackle loneliness and isolation in people over 55 – helping them to lead fulfilled lives and remain as active members in their local communities. MHA Communities South Leeds are working to embed digital inclusion support across all elements of their service offering a person-centred approach to supporting the development of their members’ digital skills and confidence. They are training all staff to be Digital Champions and are opening up access to digital equipment through their tablet lending scheme. They received funding to support the development of the Digital Health Hub.

Dewsbury Road Community Hub and Library

Dewsbury Road Community Hub and Library has free-to-use PCs, free Wi-Fi, and friendly staff to give the community a helping hand. They can help people look for information, download apps, and use their devices to better manage their health. They offer digital learning sessions and one to one support for anyone in the community. After piloting the development of their Digital Health Hub approach at Dewsbury Road Community Hub and Library, Leeds Libraries plan to roll out the approach at Libraries across the city.

Next steps: expanding the Digital Health Hub approach across the city

After developing the place-based approach to digital inclusion to improve health participation working with Beeston and Middleton Local Care Partnership, 100% Digital Leeds are now working with York Road Local Care Partnership to test the model. This will see the development of Digital Health Hubs across East Leeds over the next 6 months, after which the intention is to roll-out the model with LCPs across the city. Having been approached by organisations wishing to become Digital Health Hubs based outside of the place-based support areas 100% Digital Leeds plan to bring together organisations with Digital Health Hub offers, or looking to develop offers, as one city-wide network to further share resources, learning, and best practice.

If you would like to know more about Digital Health Hubs or how 100% Digital Leeds can support your organisation to develop and implement the Digital Health Hub approach contact or

Embedding Digital Inclusion: Leep1

Online activities with Leep1

Get online week is over for this year, but we’re going to carry on our theme of embedding digital inclusion by sharing a selection of case studies throughout the week which showcase some of the excellent ways our partners have integrated digital aspects into non-digital activities.

Mandy Haigh, project and development manager at Leep1, has shared some of the online activities they rolled out during the pandemic to help their members learn, stay connected, and keep active during a period of isolation.

Who are Leep1?

Leep1 are a self-advocacy group that enables learning disabled adults to be in control of their own organisation, with activities tailored for them. This includes help to develop social, health, employment, and educational skills.

What are they doing?

We run an accredited training café called Café Leep and through this we have successfully put 34 of our trainees through related NVQ training, 19 of which have gone on to either paid employment or volunteering. Our NVQ training is a unique offer and there is no other café supporting adults with learning disabilities across Leeds to get this qualification.

Leep1 are also an online centre with Good Things Foundation, offering digital skills to people with learning disabilities. This has been invaluable during the pandemic for our trainees to access our remote support as well as wider support.

How are they integrating digital inclusion?

We set up an online group on Facebook on March 17th due to lockdown to continue the delivery of our services, which grew rapidly to now over 400 members. Part of the team focused on the members who were not online by delivering iPads and programmes so they were able to join the online group. Seeing their faces when they came online for the first time after long lengths of time being isolated was a very special moment. This was difficult to manage as both the person with learning disabilities and their carers/support had little or no digital skills.

The other part of the team concentrated on the online activities, part of this was the delivery of Café Leeps NVQ food safety which has been an important part of the online work as unemployment is at its highest and people with learning disabilities are even further from the labour market post Covid-19.

The most isolated were supported to get online, set up Facebook accounts and Zoom so they were able to join our online group support. Café Leep NVQ training was delivered online daily so that café trainees were still gaining their employability and food safety skills. Some learning-disabled group members who weren’t trainees are now ready to sit their NVQ exam because of the training. 

What were the activities?

The activities we ran online were Yoga, keep fit, cooking, art, drama, BSL, sewing, literacy and maths all on Zoom. On Wednesday evenings we run a friendship group, having tea together, doing karaoke and using digital skills and our members have delivered virtual DJ sets on a night and are weekend admin.

To get our members active over the lockdown our Healthy Living group asked the members to use their step counters on their mobile phones and input the steps they achieved daily on our Facebook group page where we have a weekly winner who gets awarded a certificate for being Stepper of the Week.

During learning we integrate a game called Kahoot into most of our lessons, it makes the learning interactive and fun which our members enjoy. Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that makes it easy to create, share and play learning games or trivia quizzes in minutes.

We get our members to do their own power points which they deliver as part of their monthly People First meetings. They use Word to write about the topics and then upload it onto the power point ready for the meeting.

Some of our members delivered Facebook live sessions online during lockdown such as cooking lessons, craft/needlework sessions, Countdown and other games. One mum and her son with a learning disability regularly made curries online via Facebook live, and their recipes were to die for. 

Café Leep have been using tech within their lessons for a few years now and they have an e-learning platform which teaches them all about food safety, this was a god send during lockdown as it meant most of our members were already able to use tech.

What apps did they use?

The main apps we use are Kahoot, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook through using tablets and desktops. We mainly use tablets with our members to get online. We teach our members to do the social media for our platforms and more recently they have been learning how to do Reels on Instagram which has been such fun. 

Leep1 top tips for delivering online activities

We try to use tech in all our sessions as it not only gets our members used to using tech, but it makes it a fun way of integrating tech into the lessons using apps like Kahoot.

One of our members will look up all the routes for where they are going out on trips and plan bus timetables on the computer. It really helps making what they are doing fun as this helps them to retain the information. 

Susan who is the co-chair of Leep1 a lady with Downs Syndrome has started a regular podcast every Thursday. We have had some amazing guests on the podcast such as Hilary Benn MP and more recently interviewed Carley from 100% Digital Leeds on the digital inclusion gap. All the podcasts are on our Facebook page Leep1Leeds to re-watch.

Using a phonics app on a tablet for one of our members allowed him to learn how to read and spell. He wanted to pass his driving test and needed to be able to read so this was the driver behind him wanting to learn how to read. After 6 months he was then able to read sentences which was an amazing achievement. 

What did people think?

We have been running our Healthy Living group sessions where our members were able to speak about their wellbeing. These sessions have been essential in supporting the mental wellbeing of our members throughout lockdown. 

We have incorporated using the tablets by using the Kahoot platform for our trainees learning which helped them to become more engaged with the subject matter and technology at the same time. Most have now downloaded the app to their phones to use in their daily life.

Darren Nixon

Both Maisie aged 28 and Jamie-Leigh 33, were employed by Leep1 during lockdown.

Maisie was given a tablet during lockdown which has helped her with checking her emails, being on an interview panel, Zoom with her Grandma, Friendship Group and using social media. She is also admin for the Leep1 Group Facebook page which was set up in lockdown to deliver all the Leep1 activities online. 

Jamie-Leigh has used a laptop over the past 6 months, at first, she found it quite difficult but once she has got used to it, she was able to do her emails on there, book meeting rooms and run consultations on Zoom with Leep1 members and through these consultations with 3 learning-disabled staff members we produced an employment e-booklet for other people with learning disabilities and autism to use and support them when they are starting work. 

Jamie-Leigh also consulted with 5 adults with learning disabilities and autism around digital inclusion and this information was passed to ALaDDIN (Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network so they could progress further work to close the digital inclusion gap. 

Find out more about Leep1

We are on most social media platforms which you can find the details for these on our website We are visible across most social media platforms for each of our social enterprises, Leep1, Café Leep and AND (AbilitiesNotDisabilities).

Embedding Digital Inclusion: Pyramid of Arts

Pass the Print with Pyramid

Get online week is over for this year, but we’re going to carry on our theme of embedding digital inclusion by sharing a selection of case studies throughout the week which showcase some of the excellent ways our partners have integrated digital aspects into non-digital activities.

This entry is from Alice Clayden, Creative Programme Coordinator at Pyramid, about how using a digital medium has enabled the creation of collaborative artwork by artists with learning disabilities.

Who are Pyramid?

Pyramid works with people with learning disabilities in groups and one to one to discover, explore and enjoy the arts! We work with people with all levels of abilities and have specialised sessions for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

At Pyramid, art means all art forms: painting, drawing, music, dance, theatre, film, photography, sculpture – anything our members want to try!

Our Discover programme is for people with mild-moderate learning disabilities. The groups meet for 38 weeks per year, completing three creative projects over three terms.

Our High Rise programme is for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. We currently run a music group and a movement group. Our High Rise groups have a strong track record of producing new music and devised theatre, which we share through public performances.

Our Development Teams involve one artist with a learning disability working one to one with a non-learning disabled artist. The DTeam format works well for people who have an interest or skill in a particular art form that they want to develop and/or for people who want to try creative activities but whose support needs are such that group work is not appropriate for them.

How are they integrating digital inclusion?

Collaborating Development Team artists Rhea and Alice Burford have created, and self-directed an ongoing Pyramid project called ‘Pass the Print’. Passing a piece of digital artwork back and forth to one another via email, artists Rhea and Alice add to and edit the piece in response to the last layer added using a variety of creative programmes. The piece will start as a blank page and evolve over time into a collaborative piece of original artwork which celebrates and unites both artists!

A mixture of adobe photoshop alongside various FREE drawing apps were used.

Setting a general theme for each piece is a good idea when starting a new piece, and also having tight deadlines for sending in progress work through to one another means that pieces don’t get forgotten!

What did people think?

The Pass the Print pieces were shared on the Pyramid social media accounts and they got positive feedback. Lots of people were asking if we could turn them into prints and post cards that they could purchase from our online shop. This is now on our TO DO list for future shop products.

Alice and Rhea really always enjoy the process of working on collaborative pieces together as they have similar interests and styles of working! But having the option of working on a digital piece which they worked on in layers, exchanging the file back and forth via email meant that this gave them the time and space (physically and psychologically) to develop the piece in their own time, maybe with a cuppa in bed or out on a bench in nature, rather than having to do it there and then in the studio. This freedom of choosing when and where they could work on the art definitely impacted the feel of the finished pieces!

What’s next?

Alice and Rhea would like to extend the idea of Pass the Print project out to other Pyramid DTeams who meet up for creative sessions at the Pyramid studio. Often our groups and development teams meet at the same time on the same day every week for sessions, so often the only time people get to see what fellow artists have been working on is by getting a sneak peak of art work in progress being pinned on the wall, half-finished prints on drying racks, parts of sculptures left out to dry until next weeks sessions.

Alice and Rhea believe that Pass the Print project will encourage our artists to communicate amongst one another, share ideas and start to experiment with more collaborative approaches to their creative practice without the pressure of verbal introductions and group meetings as these can be overwhelming for people.

The hope is that if people meet first and get to know one another initially through exchanging their artwork they will feel more comfortable, confident and open to face-to-face collaborations in the future!

Where can you find out more about Pyramid?

Website –
Twitter – @Pyramid_of_Arts
Facebook – @Pyramid.of.Arts
Instagram – @pyramid_arts

You can also find our more about the artist Rhea here!