Embedding Digital Inclusion: Carers Leeds

Walking with Carers Leeds

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.

First up, we’re hearing from Holly, Digital Inclusion Coordinator at Carers Leeds, about a woodland walk they organised using apps for plant identification.

Who are Carers Leeds?

Here at Carers Leeds, we support unpaid carers – people who support a friend or family member due to their disability, illness, mental health issue, or substance misuse problem. We offer lots of general and specialised advice and support and host a variety of support groups and activities (including dementia support groups, activities for over 50s, walking groups, and more!). For anyone interested, head over to our website www.carersleeds.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @CarersLeeds, where you can keep up to date with our information and events.

How are they integrating digital inclusion?

Our digital inclusion work is something we have been dedicated to over the past months in light of the changes we have all experienced due to the pandemic. We want to empower carers across the wider community of Leeds to feel included and confident with technology despite any barriers they may face. We have been offering a range of digital support to tackle digital exclusion and data poverty. Some of this support has included gifting devices and data, offering one-to-one coaching sessions, sharing written ‘how to’ guides and video tutorials, and delivering remote desktop support!

However, we know technology can be a daunting experience for a lot of people, so we thought an activity which integrated digital into a non-digitally focused activity would be perfect for those who wanted an introduction to technology without the added pressure of classic features which can be overwhelming (like emails, online banking, and social media).

What was the event?

In light of this, we decided to host a woodland wellbeing walk at one of the parks in Leeds which incorporated the use of plant identifier apps on Samsung tablets to identify different trees within nature based on features such as flowers, branches, leaves, and fruit! These apps were easy and interesting to use as they gave us lots of fun facts about the plants we identified, such as the symbolism and mythology linked to them.

We also gave people the option to use physical printouts to give carers the ability to choose, and to move the sole focus away from technology alone. This walk allowed us to incorporate a fun activity which both promoted wellbeing and the use of technology in a way to make it less intimidating. We received some fantastic feedback and have more walks planned!

What went well?

What worked so well was the mix of the outdoor activity which promoted wellbeing, the group setting which allowed carers to socialise and connect with one another, and the use of technology and print-outs.

I think a top tip for any organisation wanting to try this activity with their target audience would be to have the apps pre-downloaded and open on the devices ready for people to use. This way, the pressure of knowing specifically how to use the device is reduced. For many carers we have supported within our digital inclusion project, a fear of pressing a wrong button is very common and this quick preparation before made the use of this technology accessible for all.

What did people think?

‘This was such a unique activity and nothing like we have ever offered before. The feedback was so good that we are going to run similar sessions on a more regular basis. It was great to see old-school paper and new-school technology work together side by side, meaning that no-one felt left out

Nikki Pattinson, Carer Engagement Lead, Carers Leeds

The apps used

Tree ID from the Woodland Trust

Printable nature guides from the Field Studies Council

Celebrate Get Online Week with 100% Digital Leeds!

18th – 24th October 2021 is Get Online Week and it’s not too late to get involved!

Whether it’s making one of your existing activities a ‘Get Online Week special’ and bringing a bit of digital into someone’s day, signing up to one of our webinars to learn how you can do more with digital, signposting someone to one of our partners’ Get Online Week activities, or finally signing your organisation up to the Online Centres Network, there’s plenty of ways for you and your organisation to get involved with Get Online Week 2021.

Make your existing event, activity, or session a ‘Get Online Week Special’

If you’ve got a few bits of digital equipment like a couple of tablets, you can find a way to bring a bit of digital into an existing event, activity, or session in a way that is easy, fun, and engaging, and you might even inspire someone to take their first steps with digital.

Top tips from the 100% Digital Leeds team to help you bring a bit of digital in to someone’s day:

  • You don’t need to be an IT expert or to have done any digital stuff before, it’s about raising awareness of the benefits of being online and celebrating that.
  • Your activity doesn’t have to be a digital one to start with – in fact it’s often better if it isn’t! You can bring a bit of digital into anything, just think about the digital tools or apps that might engage attendees and make your session even better. Check out how Carers Leeds have brought digital in to their walking group sessions using apps that help people identify plants and flowers and see how Leeds Irish Health and Homes use digital to bring Irish music and television in to their Lunch Clubs.
  • Don’t try and make it all about digital, try combining digital activities with offline activities. For example a ‘Games Day’ could have regular board games and jigsaws alongside some tablets with game and jigsaw apps out for people to try, too.
  • Make the digital part fun and easy to engage with. Simple things like games, music, and video, can help draw people in and help them start building the confidence to take on more serious things you might want to show them, like emails and eSafety.
  • Share the things you enjoy and feel confident using! If you’re excited about a tool or app the people are more likely to be excited, too. The digital things you use day-to-day might not feel new or innovative to you, but they will be to other people. People love things like Google Earth and you can even make Google Maps exciting!
  • If you’re promoting your activity or event try to avoid mentioning ‘digital’ and ‘online’ too much to avoid putting off people who aren’t online and might not see a digital themed event as ‘for them’.  Sell the non-digital element, and maybe include phrases such as “Join in fun activities, find out more and try and something new”. If it’s an existing session with regular attendees you probably don’t need to advertise at all!
  • Get Online Week is about fun and celebration, and what’s a party without cake and a cuppa?

Sign up to one of our ‘Embedding Digital’ workshops

We’re hosting two online workshops during Get Online Week, both free of charge and open to all. Both workshops are practical, informal sessions where you can learn from others what has worked for them, ask questions, and come away inspired and full of ideas about how you can incorporate some fun and engaging digital in to your events, sessions, and activities.

Both workshops are perfect for you tick one or more of these boxes:

  • You work with people with people who may have low digital skills and confidence
  • You work in the fields of digital inclusion or have an interest
  • You work with communities
  • You want to find out more about how to support people to go online
  • You’re a Digital Champion
  • You work in a care home or care setting
  • You work with people living with dementia

Embedding digital inclusion into your existing activities

We’ll hear from organisations across the city who are supporting people to try new things online, building their confidence and skills with digital whilst they attend a coffee morning, memory café, bingo session or even an art group. They will share some hints and tips for how to do this within your existing activities and share apps, online tools and resources that are great for people with low digital skills to inspire them to take their first steps online, building confidence and motivation with tech. This is with planning, approach, equipment and delivery to ensure an inclusive meaningful experience.

Online tools to support and inspire people to go online

When supporting people to overcome digital inclusion barriers and go online it’s good to use tools and apps that link to their hobbies and interests. In this informal and interactive session an exciting national partner (we can’t say who yet!) will share a range of really useful apps, online resources and great tools to inspire people to take their first steps online. They will cover a range of themes from hobbies and interests to tools to support people to manage their health and wellbeing online. Supporting a person-centred approach in empowering people to do the things they want to do online and enabling them to have greater access to a wide range of opportunities. Brilliant for people with low digital skills and confidence, to reduce the potential fears around the online world and making it enjoyable and fun!

Encourage people to drop in to a Get Online Week event

We’re excited to see so much Get Online Week activity taking place across Leeds next week – can you help to make sure everyone knows about them? For people lacking digital skills and confidence, or those who don’t see themselves as ‘digital people’, support, encouragement and signposting is key to them taking their first steps with digital. If you can tell people about one of the events happening next week, chat to them about the positives, and encourage them to attend, you can help our partners reach the right people and really make a difference.

What’s on in Leeds for Get Online Week 2021

MHA Communities South Leeds: Breakfast Buddies

Tuesday 19th October, 9.00am-11.00am, St Andrew’s Community Centre, Beeston

Come and have breakfast with us, try something new and have a good natter! Learn about all the digital support available. (Transport available) – Contact the centre: 01132716201

Cross Gates Good Neighbours: Coffee Morning

Tuesday 19th October, 10:00am – 12:00pm, Cross Gates & District Good Neighbours’ Scheme CIO, Station Road, Cross Gates, Leeds LS15 7JY

Find out more about getting online, borrow a tablet, sign up for computer lessons, or just get some friendly advice.

Leeds Libraries: Digital drop-ins

  • Tuesday 19th October, 11:00am – 12:00pm: Hunslet Community Hub & Library
  • Tuesday 19th October, 1:30pm – 2:30pm: Compton Community Hub & Library
  • Thursday 21st October, 10:30am – 11:30am: Armley Community Hub & Library
  • Thursday 21st October, 2:00pm – 3:30pm: Leeds Central Library

Need help to use your tablet, smartphone or computer to try something new, say hello or get tech savvy? Come along with your device and talk to our friendly librarians who will answer any questions about digital you may have.

BITMO GATE: Coffee Morning

Wednesday 20th October, 10:30am – 12:00pm, BITMO GATE, Aberfield Drive

We’ll have devices for you to try and staff on hand to answer your digital questions over hot drinks and treats! You’re welcome to bring your own device if you’d like to. For more information or an online link, please call 0113 378 2190, text/WhatsApp 07891 274237 or email gate@belleisletmo.co.uk

MAECare: Digital 121 sessions

Wednesday 20th October, 12:00pm – 3:00pm, 57 Cranmer Bank, Leeds, LS17 5JD

Support with all your digital questions and queries, whether you just need a bit of help or you’re starting from scratch. Call 0113 2660371 for more information.

Neighbourhood Action In Farnley, New Farnley & Moor Top – ‘Let’s Get Digital’ with Jessica

Wednesday 20th October, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, 307 Lower Wortley Road, Leeds, LS12 4QA

Call into the office if you would like some help with getting online or have any queries regarding your existing device, or just come and see us for some tea and biscuits! All welcome! 0113 2632945

Middleton Elderly Aid: Digital Drop-In

Thursday 21st October, 1:30pm – 3:30pm, Middleton Elderly Aid Social Centre, Acre Road, Middleton, LS10 4LF

Staff and volunteers are here to help you with any online issues from applying for blue badges, online banking, or just shopping online. Refreshments and cake provided.

Holbeck Together: Coffee and Connect Morning

Friday 22nd October, 10:00am – 12:00pm, St Matthews Community Centre, Holbeck, Leeds

We will have devices for you to try and staff/ volunteers on hand to answer your digital questions over hot drinks and treats. You are also welcome to bring your own device if you would like to. For more information please call 0113 245 5553 or email matthew@holbecktogether.org

Your Back Yard & Bramley Elderly Action: Digital Cafe

Friday 22nd October, 1:00pm – 2.30pm, Bramley Community Centre

Drop in and get all the digital support you need. Email kyra@yourbackyard.org.uk for more information or check out Your Back Yard’s Get Online Week blog post

Leeds Irish Health and Homes: on call support

All week!

If you would like to have a go or need any help please contact Anne Pearce on 07843 353661.

Carers Leeds: Fancy connecting with nature and technology?

Thursday 28th October, 11:00am, Middleton Park outside the Cafe

We would like to invite carers for a leg stretch and a chat as we explore the beautiful Middleton Park to give everyone a chance to get connected with nature and technology in one! We will be bringing along tablets that carers can use to identify plants, flowers, and other fun things in nature for anyone who would like a gentle introduction into technology in a relaxed environment, or for anyone who enjoys nature! To book a place call 0113 380 4300 or email patricia.fisher@carersleeds.org.uk or holly.wilkins@carersleeds.org.uk

This is everything we have for now, but for the most up to date Get Online Week Information follow 100% Digital Leeds on Twitter. We’ll be dropping in to as many of our partner events as possible and sharing everything on Twitter so keep an eye out for more top tips for successful engagement, quotes from people that have dropped by, and probably loads of selfies!

Sign up to the Online Centres Network and get ready for Get Online Week 2022!

‘Get Online Week’ is a digital inclusion campaign organised by Good Things Foundation, a social change charity helping people to improve their lives through digital. Sign your organisation up to their Online Centres Network to be the first to hear about next year’s campaign. You’ll also get access to a whole load of unique support opportunities such as funding, training, resource guides, and networking. They even sometimes have free equipment and data for you to give out to the people who need it most. It’s free to sign up, so what are you waiting for?

An update on the Digital Inclusion Toolkit

The Digital Inclusion Toolkit has officially entered its next stage of development.

If you’ve been following our blogs on the development of the digital inclusion toolkit, you may have noticed that there has not been much news since the official launch of digitalinclusionkit.org back in December 2020.

Our last blog summarised our progress so far, and touched on some of our plans for the continuation of this project. We are glad to announce that we have now secured follow-on funding from MHCLG for a further 6 months of development work, and have kicked off the next phase of work on this project.

What we’re thinking about

The next phase of development for the toolkit really needs to focus on making sure that it meets user needs, both in terms of content and accessibility.

With this in mind, we’ve set some objectives for the next phase of work:

  • Increase the number of organisations using the toolkit
  • Increase the number of active contributors
  • Gather user research to lead further development of the platform
  • Ensure diverse needs are accounted for
  • Secure long term support for the toolkit

We’ve also been considering what our process for collecting and curating external content will look like. Expanding beyond the content our partners are able to contribute is a key short term goal, and vital to making the toolkit a comprehensive resource.

What we’ve been doing

Much of the first few weeks has been focused on planning the next stages of work and refining our vision for the toolkit. Our current focus is on improving the platform in line with user needs, and finding ways to evaluate its success.


Developing a theory of change model has helped us to clearly express our objectives for the project and the actions needed to achieve them, including how we will monitor and evaluate the success of the toolkit. Our next job will include refining the outcomes and impacts we’re hoping to see, and setting some baselines to measure them against.

User modelling

Reviewing the types of questions we’ve received, both directly relating to the toolkit and as individual partners, has helped us frame some of the common questions and themes as ‘user types’. This is something we can use to make sure we are meeting our audience needs, and will continue to refine as we receive more contact from toolkit users and contributors.

We will be putting together some surveys for different user groups to begin collecting data within the next few weeks.

Platform development

We have started the next phase of platform development with updates we want to make to the site, including changes to improve article discoverability. Further development work will be led by upcoming user research.

Some of the things we know we want to improve include:

  • Notifications for new content and comments
  • Improved discoverability of relevant articles
  • More ways of browsing and searching for content

What’s next?

The next stage will focus on continuing to build our content base, further development work on the platform, and planning for future user research. We will also be refining our evaluation framework and setting some baselines to measure success.

As always we would love to hear from you if you have any suggestions or contributions to make. User research is key to the success of the project so any feedback on the site layout, content, functionality and accessibility would be gratefully received.

Our groups can now meet ‘virtually’ and there’s still laughs… and coffee!” – Digital Champions making a real difference in Breathe Easy Groups

100% Digital Leeds have been supporting Leeds Breathe Easy groups over the last year with access to myCOPD, a self-management app to support them in self-managing their conditions.   Delivering digital champion training with group members has enabled digital support to be embedded across the groups, which has supported members to develop their digital skills and confidence.  Since COVID-19 Breathe Easy groups have stopped meeting face-to face and with support from the digital champions, they have now being able to introduce virtual sessions via Zoom for exercise and a social to keep members connected and living well with their condition whilst in isolation.

Breathe Easy Groups meeting virtually

John, aged 72, is one of the trustees of the West Leeds Breathe Easy group, he’s been putting his digital champion training into practice these last few weeks, his skills, knowledge and confidence growing each week. 

He started by attending the weekly sessions hosted by Leeds City Council Public Health and 100% Digital Leeds with the aim to bring all the group leaders together to discuss what support they might need going forward.  At the first meeting John found his microphone had a crackle every time he moved, this got everyone laughing! But John wasn’t having any of it, he was determined to find a solution and soon got around to fixing it.   He then became more determined to gain more confidence in using Zoom and started navigating using the mute and interactive features.   

John has developed his digital skills and confidence in such a short space of time, he thoroughly enjoys the weekly zoom meetings and had been missing seeing the other members.  John, alike to many of the members has COPD and is missing life outside of isolation.

We all used to have a weekly coffee at Wetherspoons and now we can’t, it’s hard.  So I decided I wanted to offer the members something else, something to lift people’s spirits and give them something to look forward to every week, an opportunity for them to see their pals

John decided to put his new found skills into practice and empower other members who weren’t joining the weekly sessions to join in, he’s been providing 1-1 calls with each of them, supporting them to use their digital devices, access myCOPD and download Zoom to join in the video calls.  John says

The How to Guides for using Zoom on different devices have really helped, I don’t know every device but I can ask the members which device they have and use the guide to give them step-by step instructions to access Zoom and join a meeting

John is now hosting the weekly West Leeds peer support social meeting via Zoom and plans to get in touch with their exercise instructor so that they can start doing their vital exercise sessions again together on screen.

Being a Digital Champion isn’t just about giving people instructions and guiding them through the process, it’s about finding out what the ‘hook’ might be for people. Having patience and giving people the confidence to take their first steps online is really important. The opportunity that they will be able to see their friends after all this time is the real ‘hook’! The members feel really proud of themselves when they finally join the call, and they should be! I know it’s made a real difference, it’s having such a big impact on their lives right now.

John has embraced the role and challenges of being a Digital Champion, putting his training into practice and has enabled his fellow members to meet as they once did each week, his passion and dedication for peer support has been amazing and has enabled more of the members to join the Zoom social group.

Our Breathe Easy group might not be able to meet face to face, but we can still meet ‘virtually’, and there’s still plenty of laughs, support, advice and coffee!

Sue, aged 69 is one of the group leaders at the East Leeds Breathe Easy group and has used her digital champion training to the full.  Being one of the 4 exercise instructors she understands the importance of keeping active and has been keen to support the group members to meet virtually so that they can continue the support and exercise they had in their face-to face sessions. 

She has provided calls with members to show them how to use Zoom and has given so many of the members the confidence to access it, “If I can do it, you can do it!” she says.

Sue began the virtual sessions with a social catch up which consisted of plenty of laughs! Members found it hilarious that they could all see each other on the screen at the same time!!  She was then determined to introduce a virtual session to focus on the vital exercise they need to help manage their long term conditions.  She modified the choreography exercises and they began with a cool down, and then last week introduced circuits!

Doing the exercises together is real peer support and it motivates members to keep up with their self-management and it lifts member’s moods.  It’s been a long time now in isolation so having a guaranteed weekly laugh is so important

Sue, with COPD herself is also aware of how living with a long term condition and being isolated can have an impact on people’s moods and mental health and the importance of being socially connected with family and friends, the East Leeds group members have been meeting for nearly 10 years so to them; they are family!

Sue admits that she isn’t the quickest to learn new skills but she became determined to not only attend the Zoom meetings but to host her own so that the East Leeds group members can keep socially connected during these tough times.  Each week sees new members joining and Sue is able to use the How to guides, along with her skills, knowledge and confidence to talk members through the steps needed to join the meetings. 

She’s empowering and inspiring many members to take their first steps with digital, exploring a new digital world where attending a Zoom session becomes part of the everyday!

It’s hard to imagine what it would be like without having these virtual weekly sessions to take part in.  We don’t know how long this lockdown is going to last and due to having COPD we are in the cohort of people who will be shielded the longest, we need to make a long term plan just in case!

iPads and Alexa’s at Leeds Recovery Hubs during the pandemic have been a lifeline

During the pandemic the Recovery Hubs have borrowed iPads and Alexa’s from 100% Digital Leeds Lending Scheme.  Developing their customer’s confidence and digital skills has been a real journey and so many have embraced this, taking their very first steps online and it’s brought so much laughter and smiles.

Since lockdown their service users haven’t been able to have visits from family and friends and keeping in touch has been hard, the digital technology has been a lifeline and made such a difference to so many.

The difference a video call with a loved one can make is hard to put into words.     

The Digital Champions within the staff teams across the Recovery Hubs have been supporting the customers to use the iPads, to play their favourite songs, searching their favourite actor/actresses, learning how to research items of interest and even how to do their online shopping.

This has boosted their mental wellbeing and supported them to live more independently equipping them for returning to their homes beyond the recovery hubs.

They have loved to play game apps, jigsaws, quizzes, and even watched films.

Staying connected with family has been a priority and being able to use the iPads to have daily zoom calls for many of the customers has been incredible.

Many of the family members were telephoning the service daily to receive updates on their loved ones prior to using the technology but now with the iPads they can hear their voices and see their faces which has reduced anxieties for both customers and families!

The iPads have also been used to take photos, the customers have taken photos of themselves (selfies!) and digital champions have even supported many to email these to family members with messages of love.

Family members sent comments of thanks saying how much it has meant to them to have communication with their loved ones during the pandemic in the Recovery Hubs

Thank you so much, it’s been so lovely to see Mum face to face, great to see her room, the photos and notes and see she’s put weight on since she’s been in the Hub which is brilliant, thank you.

As well as using the iPads to support customers to develop their digital skills, the Alexa’s borrowed through 100% Digital Leeds have been used daily to support social interactions and using music for reminiscence and mood boosting, as well as support with self-management.

Digital has saved our customers through the pandemic, it’s been so invaluable, and it’s opened up so many more opportunities for them for the future, increasing wellbeing and independence. 

Lots of Video calls and afternoon tea’s! Thank you 100% Digital Leeds!

The Digital Inclusion Toolkit is Live

Digital Inclusion Toolkit is now live at www.digitalinclusionkit.org

We launched the toolkit on Friday 11 December 2020. You can view a recording of the launch event at https://youtu.be/En1_leoMKc4

This is just the beginning, and there is much more planned for the toolkit. It’s been a while since the launch, so here’s a reminder of what we’ve achieved so far.

About the toolkit

The toolkit is:

  • An online resource for anyone interested in finding out more about any aspect of designing and delivering digital inclusion projects and programmes.
  • A summary of the digital inclusion experiences of the project partners, including successes and challenges.
  • For staff and volunteers from councils and organisations of all sizes across all sectors.
  • A collaborative space where users of the site can add comments and questions directly to every post on the toolkit. They can also use the contact form to get in touch with the project team ‘behind the scenes’.

The toolkit is not:

  • A repository for handouts and document downloads. Our previous blog talked about the work we did to make sure the toolkit was accessible. We don’t want to add content that’s not accessible and we also don’t want to duplicate resources that are available online elsewhere.
  • A place to repeat existing resources and content. We don’t want to duplicate existing work and resources, even if those documents are accessible. Instead, we will link and signpost to existing tools, reports, directories and documents.
  • A list of definitive best practice and ‘How to…’ guides. All of our content is based on the experiences of the partners involved and written from our perspective. As we add more content from a wider range of contributors there might even be examples that contradict each other! Users can take the content that is most useful and meaningful to them and apply it in their context.

What have we done so far?

  • Launched the toolkit via a webinar that was attended by 188 people from across the UK and from different sectors including local government, health and care, third sector and private sector.
  • Published 44 articles on the toolkit with contributions from all of the project partners.
  • Structured the content using nine category headings and added functionality to read all posts by specific authors and keyword search across the toolkit.
  • Developed a content plan and editorial guidelines for future content.

What’s next?

More content

There’s more content to come from Leeds, Croydon and TechResort. Some of the topics still to cover include:

  • Digital inclusion in health and care: our experiences of working with Local Care Partnerships, working in care homes, reducing health inequalities and increasing access to digital health services through digital inclusion.
  • Understanding digital inclusion: links to national research and how we supplemented those reports with local data to define the people and places that are more likely to be digitally excluded.
  • Working inclusively: taking a furthest first approach to ensure that no-one is ‘hard to reach’, focusing on different communities of interest, developing the right interventions with professionals and practitioners, staff and volunteers, and people with lived experience.

Improving the platform

  • User research: we plan to get a deeper understanding of the needs of our users, and test the toolkit with likely users to make sure it meets their needs.
  • Site development in response to user research: as the site grows, more content is added and the number of articles increases we will need to develop the structure and functionality of the toolkit. Ideas already discussed include sub-categories for the main chapter headings, increased user interaction options such as Likes or ‘up-voting’ for comments, questions and answers plus options to subscribe and receive email alerts.

Call to Action

The toolkit is designed to be a platform for discussion and collaboration. We have already received dozens of questions and comments from the launch event and since the launch. Some of these will be posted directly to the site with answers. In other cases we are talking to the people who commented and working with them to turn their comments into longer articles for the toolkit. 

We want the digital inclusion toolkit to be a platform where people can engage with others who are working on digital inclusion initiatives. It doesn’t matter where you are geographically or where you are in terms of the scale, scope or maturity of your digital inclusion programme. Whatever your role, whatever sector you’re working in and whoever you’re working with, the toolkit should be relevant to your digital inclusion project. But you can make it even more relevant by adding comments to articles, asking questions, responding to other people’s comments and answering their questions from your perspective. Tell us where the gaps are, where do you need more information and what have you found most useful from the content that’s already there?

If you have experiences to share and you’d like to add content to the toolkit, use the contact form to get in touch with us and we can work with you to write an article. We can also facilitate conversations outside of the toolkit and bring people together around common themes or to collaborate on joint articles. 

Combatting social isolation through digital

Health for All (Leeds) Ltd is a Leeds based charity working to change people’s lives and transform local communities.  Their vision is Health & wellbeing for all, Equipping people with the confidence and skills to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. Supporting vulnerable older adults, children, carers, young people and families. 

At the beginning of the pandemic Health for All partnered with 100% Digital Leeds and worked to embed digital inclusion within their organisation and services to support their service users at risk of social isolation and who were most vulnerable. 

100% Digital Leeds Tablet Lending scheme enabled Health for All to lend tablets out to their service users most in need in lockdown:

“One iPad supported a 69-year-old woman we work with who has mobility & health issues who was referred to us by Linking Leeds due to a deterioration in her mental health in the first lockdown.   

She was feeling even more isolated as she didn’t have as much contact with one of her son’s & no contact at all with her other son, due to him being in a care home.

I had a doorstep visit with her and we went through the log in process & the basic functions of the iPad.  I talked about things she likes to do, we downloaded YouTube & shared the wide range of things she can access on YouTube like music and the news.  We also downloaded a jigsaw puzzle app and a crossword app. 

Her confidence, skills and motivation in using the tablet has developed so much and it’s impacted massively on improving her mental health, keeping her socially connected and able to stay healthy through the pandemic”

Health for All staff took a real holistic approach in supporting their members with digital, with support via 100% Digital Leeds Digital Champion Training, the tools and resources they used and by taking a person-centred approach has encouraged their members to take their first steps online and to overcome barriers.  This has inspired other members to see the benefits to being online and overcoming fear and worries about the online world. 

“I also supported her with downloading reading apps, facetime and Skype which enabled her to connect with others, seeing her sons on the screen!  It’s incredibly life-changing and so special, the improvement in her mental health has been very apparent and she is now encouraged to join zoom sessions and engage in activities. 

She “has a bash at using it every day”, which is building her confidence and digital skills, she says the best thing is that it helps her stay stimulated throughout the long days.  

She plays digital games, (Who Wants to be a Millionaire) and wants to now learn how to look at photos and history of her local area Hunslet.   

She has low confidence and felt that she was not very good with technology but is surprised at her learning and how it’s changed her life.  She says she has the radio on the iPad now and enjoys this as “it breaks the silence”.

Thank you to Health for All for sharing this case study, it’s great to see the impact of introducing digital into someone’s life, this support is enabling many other older people within Health for All to develop their digital skills and confidence especially through this hard time.

Nurture@Kentmere Helping Families in Boggart Hill

Nurture@Kentmere are a parent led community support group that aims to break 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 be able to engage and share. They run regular groups and community events such as crafts, educational groups, clothes exchange and other services that are needed in the area, including helping people to get online.

Before the pandemic hit they were working from Kentmere Community Centre in the Boggart Hill area of Seacroft, Leeds.  This is a priority area for 100% Digital Leeds and the wider Council as it scored highly on the national Indices of Multiple Deprivation statistics, based on measures such as health outcomes, crime rates, income and education, making it in the top 1% of most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK.

Anita Goodman and Vicki Gibbs run the group with help from other volunteers and they contacted 100% Digital Leeds in January 2020 asking to borrow two iPads to help them with their operations as well as being able to use them for digital inclusion with local families.  In the following year they have been used extensively and had a real impact in the local community.  As a busy mum herself Anita has been using one of them with her own family too and talked about how it has been great for the group, as well as for her personally, during the pandemic.

“There were several reasons we applied to borrow iPads, such as to run our Nurture peer support group, our Facebook page and group, designing and creating our marketing material, researching activities, finding support for people, emailing and keeping in contact with service-users.”

“In our face-to-face sessions we allowed users of our group to access the tablets if they needed it for any purpose. For example one member used it to look at her housing options as she wanted to move, and they were very useful to let the children have a little play or watch a YouTube video if their parents or carers needed to speak to us.  It’s a great option for giving the adults a bit of time out to relax and chat to other adults.”

“Another positive experience was when we used them in a listening project, both to read and share the questions within the group and also to make notes so that we could write up what had been discussed.”

“Obviously everything changed with the pandemic and we were no longer able to run face-to-face groups, but thanks to the connectivity we were able to adapt to running an online support group so people could stay in touch, as well as running separate Zoom sessions.”

“Vicki is working full time on the front line at St James’ Hospital, and due to the pandemic she changed her hours to do twelve-hour shifts at the weekend so that she could home-school her four children and still put everything into running and promoting Nurture during the week.”  

“Due to the pandemic I’ve not been able to loan them out, my colleague has one and I have had one at home with me and it has been a lifesaver to be able to use it with my children.  We’ve been using it for homeschooling and as a wind-down tool which has been a big relief in a very stressful time.” 

“My children either take turns to use it to complete work, or, as they are twins and in the same year, do work together.  My son especially did not cope well with lockdown so we used it for him to be able to make contact with family through video calls, games, videos and music.  It was very beneficial, it gave me more options for keeping the children entertained as well as up to date with their learning, and in the evenings I could still keep up with my Nurture work and manage my emails and the Facebook group.”

“We have been able to run a few face-to-face sessions. I use the iPad as a register to keep up with who attends, how often etc. which enables me to reach out if people have disengaged to check that they are ok.  We do a lot of work on the iPad, emails being a big one, and having the 4G data gives us opportunities and peace of mind.”

“We have taken part in several campaigns, most recently we took the lead on the White Ribbon Domestic Abuse 16 Days of Action.  This involved many Zoom meetings with our local councillors, children’s centres and other stakeholders, as we ran an online campaign where we would use our social media platform daily to relay key information.  It’s been really helpful to reach out to people and let them know we are able to support them or at the very least signpost them.  I even did a radio interview with East Leeds FM and had the iPad to hand with all my key talking points and relevant information on.”

“Hopefully when we can run face-to-face sessions we can once again allow group members to use the tablets, but they know they can message us in the meantime and we will do what we can.  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.  Without the iPad this would have been very difficult and it is this kind of thing that makes a massive difference to people’s lives.” 

“The tablets and the help we’ve received from 100% Digital Leeds has been fantastic and it has made what we do so much easier at a time where everything is more difficult.  Vicki is working full time on the front line at St James’ Hospital and due to the pandemic she has been working twelve-hour shifts at the weekend so that she could home-school her four children.  It’s the sort of punishing schedule that is the reality of so many mums and families in this area so any assistance is massively appreciated and the tablets have been a huge help.”

“Even though we only borrowed two iPads the impact they are having is invaluable to families in Boggart Hill, many of whom are living in precarious situations and have barriers such as debt, health problems, housing issues and a multitude of other needs, to be able to avert crisis situations and get the help that they need.” 

Anita Goodman, Nurture

You can find out more about Nurture via their Facebook group.

Tablet Lending at LATCH

At 100% Digital Leeds we believe that our partner organisations are our greatest asset, and through our tablet lending scheme, we are able to provide them with devices and data to reach digitally excluded people all across Leeds.  LATCH is one such organisation who are working with us to ensure that those they help are better informed, more independent and less isolated through being online, particularly during what is an uncertain and trying time for many.


LATCH stands for Leeds Action to Create Homes.  They are a unique charitable organisation that refurbishes derelict and run-down houses in the Chapeltown, Harehills and Burley areas of Leeds.

When they’re fully modernised and furnished, their properties provide supported housing for people who are homeless or in housing need and are ready to make a positive change in their lives.

Most of the renovation work is done by LATCH staff and volunteers.  Some have building trade experience already, while others learn new skills as they work on site.

“We don’t just create houses… but somewhere you can really call home.”

Tablet lending

In June of this year LATCH successfully applied to 100% Digital Leeds for a loan of some iPads.  These were loaned to some of their tenants who were experiencing financial hardship and would benefit from access to the internet as a way to address some of their other support issues. 

Alan is one of LATCH’s tenants.  Alan has a long history of mental illness, which leaves him socially isolated.  He is on Employment Support Allowance and also has periods of financial hardship as he tries to contribute to financially supporting his three children who reside with his ex-partner.  

We became aware of the impact of lockdown on some our most socially and financially excluded tenants, who would have experienced social isolation and an inability to access online services, which would have greatly impacted on their mental wellbeing.

Mark Stainton, Personal Coach at LATCH


LATCH provided Alan with an iPad through the 100% Digital Leeds tablet lending scheme in June.  Alan has a keen interest in bike maintenance and through using his iPad he has expanded his skills significantly through online learning and research.  This has enabled Alan to carry out repairs and earn some additional money through servicing and upcycling old bikes.  This has given him a great deal of confidence and his mental health has improved significantly.  

The iPad has also enabled him to have much more contact with his children through FaceTime.  Through his interests, learning new skills, and contact with his children, Alan’s levels of social isolation have greatly decreased.

Through 100% Digital Leeds, tenants have used the iPads to connect with family and friends, access online services such as banking, participate in learning and educational opportunities, and entertain themselves during an unusual time.

Mark Stainton, Personal Coach at LATCH

Sadly, Alan has recently suffered a stroke and has been in hospital for a number of weeks. He has experienced an impairment to his speech and this has made communication very difficult, particularly when trying to use the phone.  Due to Covid-19 restrictions he is not allowed visitors.  His iPad has been a lifeline.  By using apps he has been able to see family members and, most importantly to him, his children.  He is working with an occupational and speech therapist and they have directed him to useful online tools on his iPad that Alan has been using to aid his recovery.

Future plans

After seeing the positive effects that digital access and support have had on the lives of people like Alan, LATCH are currently looking to install broadband connections in their shared occupancy tenancies, so that tenants can share Wi-Fi within a block and are not digitally excluded because of data costs. 

LATCH is now planning to make digital inclusion one of key areas of our support work and service development as we recognise how crucial this is to our tenants.

Mark Stainton, Personal Coach at LATCH

Online arts and culture for health and wellbeing webinars

100% Digital Leeds have partnered with Leeds Arts Health and Wellbeing Network to host a series of 3 free 30 minute lunchtime webinars this month showcasing the range of engaging and accessible online tools and resources available to those who would like to explore arts, culture, and creativity from their own home during lockdown.

Leeds Arts Health and Wellbeing Network (LAHWN) was launched in 2019 to enable different sectors to work together, supporting Leeds residents to enjoy fulfilling lives. Our aim is for arts and creativity to support Leeds’ ambitions to be a healthy city, where people who are the poorest improve their health the fastest.

Over 2020 we have seen brilliant and innovative work across Leeds to work differently – arts organisations, like theatre Slung Low, have been involved in Leeds response to Covid-19, running foodbanks and supporting people with the essentials and across Leeds we have seen creativity everywhere from the rainbows in windows to exhibitions, groups and classes moving online. With many people in Leeds making more use of digital technology LAHWN and 100% Digital Leeds wanted to collaborate to share examples of what is on offer in Leeds and beyond – an opportunity to explore what is possible online, try something new or access something important.

Geraldine Montgomerie, Project Support Officer at Leeds Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network

Arts engagement can support improved mental health

Following the government’s Creative Health report in 2017, the World Health Organisation published a review of existing research on What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? in 2019 and new research has begun in 2020 on the role of arts in looking after our mental health. We know that arts and culture has many benefits from supporting a healthy routine to connecting with other people, from learning new skills to having a distraction during challenging times… and we are seeing a range of specific health benefits from arts engagement, music and dance in managing and recovering from health problems.

It’s widely known that the pandemic has had a negative effect on the nation’s mental health. According to Mind, more than half of adults and over two thirds of young people said that their mental health has gotten worse during the periods of lockdown restrictions. Restrictions on seeing people and being able to go outside, and worries about the health of family and friends, are the key factors driving poor mental health, with boredom and loneliness being further contributors.

We know that making and experiencing arts and culture can transform a person’s quality of life and research from Arts Council England shows that people who engage with ‘arts on prescription’ schemes’ experienced a 68% improvement in mental health symptoms as a result. 

With social distancing, travel bans, and the closure of most face-to-face arts, community, and leisure facilities for much of the previous year, it has never been more difficult to engage with arts and culture. For many people activities like going to the theatre or watching live music, taking part in drawing classes, or visiting galleries are enjoyable activities that are sorely missed. 

Geraldine Montgomerie, Project Support Officer at Leeds Arts, Health and Wellbeing Network

Engagement in the arts is more difficult without digital skills and access

The pandemic has pushed lots of people to look to digital means of entertainment to keep them busy.  TV streaming has surged during lockdown and loans of online e-books, e-magazines and audiobooks were up an average of 63% in March 2020 compared with the previous year. The arts and culture sector were quick to respond, with lots of big names making streamed content available online for free.

In Leeds we have seen a huge effort from community and arts organisations to work together to adapt to the pandemic, creating ways to engage in the arts from home. From musicians and poets performing outside care homes and DAZL Leeds’ Garden Groovers offering socially distant dancing, to online groups and activities, to arts by post; across the city we have tried to offer something for everyone. For some, including those who might have found the cost of travel prohibitive, these innovations have made things like West End Theatre more accessible.  

But new way of connecting isn’t open to the city’s more digitally excluded citizens. More than 20% of UK adults lack the basic digital skills necessary to make the most of the internet and 7% are completely offline. Digital skills can be a lifeline for people and are even more likely to be at this moment in time. Of those with good digital skills and access, 44% say it helps them to manage physical and mental well-being and 55% say it makes them feel more part of a community.

Arts and culture as motivators for digital inclusion

Although lack of equipment and skills are key factors, for many motivation is the key barrier to doing more online – over 30% of those offline say the internet ‘doesn’t interest me’. For these people, just knowing more about the kinds of things they can do online can make all the difference. When lack of digital skills and confidence is a factor, word of mouth awareness becomes an even bigger factor, alongside support and encouragement. 100% Digital Leeds have trained more than 200 Digital Champions, all of whom are encouraging and supporting the city’s residents to understand the relevance of digital to them and to build their digital skills and confidence to make the most of the online world. 

When it comes to motivating people 100% Digital Leeds encourages Digital Champions to help people discover something digital that they’re interested in, that’s less likely to cause stress, and that is hard to get wrong. Exploring arts and leisure digitally can also support people to have some normality, opening up opportunities through online resources and tools to experience some of the things enjoyable things they’ve not been able to do because of the pandemic and in the most recent third national lockdown, promoting independence, quality of life and supporting to combat social isolation.  

It’s about finding things that people feel able to ‘give a go’. Arts activities like drawing apps, accessing music on YouTube, or live streaming theatre can be accessible ways for people to do more with digital, developing their digital skills and confidence along the way. 

Amy Hearn, Digital Inclusion Coordinator, 100% Digital Leeds

Raising awareness of how to engage with the arts and be creative digitally 

With community centres, museums, galleries and other venues currently closed, the internet is now the place where we can still enjoy arts and culture, however the digital world develops at pace and can be overwhelming to navigate. This has been all the more apparent during the pandemic as organisations that have previously relied on face-to-face engagement have worked quickly to adapt their services to be delivered online. 

Online tools, classes, and services are popping up all the time and it can be difficult to keep up. Arts practitioners across the city have reported finding it difficult to make sure people know about their new online services. People that are more digitally excluded are less likely to be reached through social media advertising or sign up to email newsletters. It’s this problem that sparked 100% Digital Leeds and LAHWN to partner up to develop a series of free 30 minute lunchtime webinars, telling people about some of the easy, accessible, and fun ways for people to engage with arts and culture digitally, from home. 

A series of 3 lunchtime webinars

The webinars are aimed at anyone who would like to know more about what’s available for people looking to engage with the arts over the internet and are perfect for Digital Champions or anyone else looking to support people to access and do more with digital.

Each of the webinars will showcase a range of the websites, apps, and online events, focussing on tools that are accessible and suitable for a range of audiences, including older people, people with learning disabilities, those likely to be suffering from the effects of isolation, and those with low digital skills and confidence.   

All three webinars are free, via Zoom, and bookable at Eventbrite:

Wed 13th Jan, 12.30 – 1pm: Online arts and culture for health and wellbeing: tools for individuals

Focussing on online tools that people can use to explore the arts independently in their own homes. We will give practical hints and tips on how people can access free and affordable content from home including streamed performances, podcasts, eBooks, and creative courses.

Wed 20th Jan, 12.30 – 1pm: Online arts and culture for health and wellbeing: connecting with others 

Sharing engaging and accessible ways people can come together digitally to explore the arts socially and as part of an online community. We will highlight a range of online groups, classes, events, and other digital tools and spaces where people can engage with the arts communally and connect with like-minded people.

Wed 27th Jan, 12.30 – 1pm: Online arts and culture for health and wellbeing: tools for groups 

Showcasing the variety of engaging and accessible ways existing groups can explore digital arts and culture together. This session is ideal for anyone facilitating online groups and meet-ups who would like practical hints and tips on how to bring arts and culture into your meeting. Tools and resources recommended will be accessible and of interest to online social groups of all kinds, including those aimed at older people, people with memory issues, and people with learning disabilities.

All sessions will be recorded and shared on our website, along with links to the various tools and resources shared.

Becoming a Digital Champion

Digital Champions inspire others, improve people’s confidence and help raise awareness of the online world. It’s not about being a computer expert, it’s about being supportive, encouraging and patient. If you’re active in your local community – through your paid work, as a volunteer, or as a resident – and you understand the importance of everyone having the opportunity to be online, you’d make a perfect Digital Champion.

100% Digital Leeds offers free training to anyone looking to support Leeds residents to do more with digital. Sessions are delivered remotely via Zoom or your preferred platform. Sessions last around 90 minutes and work best in a group setting. Session content is tailored to reflect the support needs of your service users and your team. 

To organise free Digital Champion training for your team fill in our online form and someone from 100% Digital Leeds will be in touch to make arrangements.