Low-income families tend to be among the most digitally excluded. Their circumstances often dictate that they are unable to work and reliant on benefits, leading to a large proportion of families living in data poverty due to a lack of sustainable connectivity.
Many are unable to afford wifi and reliant on poor value Pay As You Go data packages – often intermittently – placing them at an even greater position of disadvantage when it comes to accessing essential services and opportunities for both parent and child. From arranging health appointments for the family and accessing childcare provision, to using online platforms and tools to aid child development, not having online access exacerbates social isolation and exclusion, and leads to poorer health outcomes.
For many of those families who do have access to a device such as a smartphone, one device is often shared by the family, which can leave parents without internet access when they need it.
This can leave families without the ability to self-manage essentials such as Universal Credit or access support services for help. Women who are victims of domestic violence are often the most digitally excluded and those most negatively affected by that exclusion, left unable to make emergency calls to the police when incidents are happening, having to wait until they drop the children at nursery or see an outreach worker.
100% Digital Leeds is working with key stakeholders in the city to reduce and remove these barriers for young families. By building the sector’s capacity to make effective digital inclusion interventions, we are helping to support women and children to access vital services, resolve issues quickly, and become more independent.
“I was in a violent and abusive relationship. When my ex-partner moved out I was left with no access to a phone so I was unable contact anyone for help. Since being gifted a phone with data I’ve been able to call services and text the Family Support Worker. I’ve been able to find a nursery place for my two-year-old.”Parent supported by a Family Support Worker
100% Digital Leeds has been working with organisations supporting families with young children to embed digital inclusion in their offers. Working with Children’s Centres, and the 0-19 Public Health Integrated Nursing Service (Health Visiting and School Nursing) within Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust (LCH), has helped us to understand the impact of digital exclusion on families with young children.