Blog: Addressing digital exclusion

Access to devices are one thing, but digital exclusion is about other things too. Here are some of the other ways we’re helping

Refurbished laptop

A lot of our work since the start of the pandemic has been related to the wider realisation in government and third-sector organisations of the impact that digital exclusion is having on our communities and the people in them.

We’ve talked extensively about our laptop refurbish and donation activities but, for all the technical acumen that requires, it’s really the easiest part of the equation.

Affordable access to the internet and the right set of skills and confidence in using a device are much more difficult nuts to crack.  They take nuance and flexibility to solve because one approach doesn’t suit everyone.

We’ve been in discussion with various organisations about how we can help and we’ve started a piece of work with the brilliant folk at CA1066 in St Leonards piloting an approach to making some of their clients’ lives a bit less tough with some practical intervention.

The aim of the project is to help improve clients’ financial capability and resilience. We know that lack of access to online services with a suitable device can make everything so much harder, time-consuming and costly.  This is the last thing you need if you’re on a low income or have other difficulties.

Our Elven team of refurbishers have sorted out 10 laptops and yesterday, Liz took the first two over to St Leonards to meet their new owners.

Our approach for this is fairly simple:  a discussion with the client to properly understand what they need to use and what skills they lack at the moment to achieve that.  After that,  a chance to tune the laptop setup and give the client a few new skills to help them along the way.

We don’t have a curriculum or checklist.  We don’t plan too far in advance because that can overwhelm someone who has a lot of other things to deal with at the moment.  We think about micro-skills and tiny bits of help which will make an immediate difference and start to build some confidence.

What sort of thing do we mean?

  • Learning how to put bookmarks into a browser to make essential pages easy to find
  • Setting up folders to organise documents sent to you by email, because mobile data is expensive and limited so you need some things held locally.
  • Sorting out web versions of applications you use on your phone so you can participate more easily in classes and groups.

The next time we see new clients in this project, the needs will be different.  Co-design with CA1066 has been a real boost to our understanding of the subject and this will feed into future projects as well some of the content we’ll add to the Digital Inclusion Kit.

We’re looking forward to catching up with the clients, remotely, in a couple of weeks to see how they’re getting on.  We anticipate that they’ll have questions and need a little more pointing in the right direction for the next things they want to learn.

If you’re a support organisation who’d like some help co-designing a similar project for your clients.  Please get in touch!

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