Increasing digital inclusion and improving health and wellbeing outcomes with the Leeds Gypsy and Traveller community


100% Digital Leeds and Leeds GATE are working in partnership to increase digital inclusion and improve health and wellbeing outcomes for the Gypsy and Traveller community across Leeds. 

The digital exclusion rates amongst the gypsy and traveller community are more than double that of the UK national average. 

We know that digital inclusion can help people live, happier, healthier, longer lives.  The average life expectancy of a Gypsy or Traveller in Leeds is 50. 

According to the Lloyds Digital Index 2020, 16% of the UK population are unable to use a digital device and the internet by themselves.  In the gypsy and traveller community this is around 50%. 

Leeds GATE have carried out research with their own members and found that 50% of families in houses and also 50% of families in trailers on site or camps do not have access to the internet.  Of 71 people surveyed only one family had a tablet.  68% of families had access to a smartphone but only 37% had Wi-Fi.

Most households surveyed had young people with enough digital skills to use a computer or laptop and most households thought it would be beneficial to have access to the internet for activities such as children’s schooling, accessing GP appointments, using online services such as shopping and staying connected to friends and family. 

There are clear inequalities between the Gypsy and Traveller community and the UK national averages which this partnership will aim to highlight, co-authoring and producing a report which can be used to gain traction and momentum for securing further funding in the future to address the imbalance and provide more opportunities and  improved outcomes for people in the community.   

Project aims

This aims to:

  • Develop a wider digital inclusion strategy for the Gypsy and Traveller community in Leeds.
  • Identify and highlight the existing inequalities that Gypsies and Travellers experience and bring them to a wider audience.
  • Work with the Leeds GATE digital health champions to gather evidence, case studies and positive stories about the benefits of digital inclusion. 
  • Assist people in the Gypsy and Traveller community to be able to make the most of being online, improving their health and wellbeing, access to information and awareness of online services.
  • Continue development of Leeds GATE staff as advocates for digital.
  • Co-author a brief report detailing the health and wellbeing benefits of digital inclusion for Gypsies and Travellers.  The report will be split into three sections – Evidencing Digital Exclusion in Gypsy and Traveller Communities; Partnership Working/Breaking down Barriers Together; Case Studies/Personal Stories.
  • Distribute the report to public health bodies, government and local government departments and Gypsy and Traveller organisations to use as evidence and build a case as appropriate for investment and long-term solutions
  • Co-design and deliver a webinar on our findings giving evidence of impact within the Gypsy and Traveller community.

Key milestones so far

  • Leeds GATE staff trained as Digital Champions.
  • Ten Mi-Fi units with 20GB data each loaned for six months from Leeds City Council.
  • Mi-Fi units added to Leeds GATEs laptops and these have been given to Leeds GATE digital health champions for them to use.
  • Confirmation that Cottingley Springs will receive Leeds Free Wi-Fi. 
  • Information shared around useful resources such as Learn My Way and Leeds Libraries Digi-Drop-In sessions
  • Survey co-designed to gather data on digital confidence
  • Statistics on pre-project internet use collected and shared by Leeds GATE

Next steps

100% Digital Leeds and Leeds GATE will work to:

  • Monitor and support the work being done by Leeds GATE health champions with the new laptops.  Survey as part of initial 121 meeting to introduce devices
  • Gather evidence to benchmark the digital skill level of the health champions and explore their needs
  • Continue to liaise and plan the permanent connectivity to Cottingley Springs, identify obstacles and opportunities
  • Explore possibilities for connectivity at other sites –namely Kidacre and the new (as yet unspecified) site.
  • GATE health champions to use connectivity to work with Forward Leeds on topics such as NOS use, alcohol use and smoking cessation services.

Leeds GATE and 100% Digital Leeds will continue to work together to improve digital inclusion for the gypsy and traveller community in Leeds.  This includes exploring options for additional funding, data, Wi-Fi and equipment.  We will also continue to share our learning and experiences through webinars, case studies and reports.