We’ve been busy tackling digital exclusion throughout the county this month – here’s a round-up of what we’ve been up to:
Digital drop-in support
This month, we’ve seen 59 people across all our community drop-in sessions.
For each of these people, we’ve helped them improve their digital skills. This could mean guiding someone through a form or new app, or giving advice to stay safe online.
July has also been the first full month we’ve been attending Thursday drop-in sessions at 50 Western Road, Bexhill along with representatives from Citizens Advice, Rother Housing, and the Bexhill Primary Care Network.
We know our free, easy to access sessions are valuable for our community, and it’s difficult to find digital help elsewhere. We’ll keep working to provide drop-in sessions at our base and throughout the county.
This month, we’ve had some good news from funders which allows us to continue our work, which we are delighted to share.
As part of the ongoing Shared Prosperity Fund, Eastbourne Borough Council have awarded us £15,000.
The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s Community Safety Fund have awarded us a grant of £1920, to help people stay safe online and reduce their chances of becoming victims of cybercrime.
Sussex Community Foundation have awarded us a grant of £3500 to continue supporting our digital inclusion activities.
Postcode Society Trust have awarded us £10,000 to help support our digital drop-in service.
We’ve also won a £500 grant from Magic Little Giving towards our device repurposing scheme.
We are very grateful for our funders for helping us support some of the most vulnerable and isolated in society.
Funding remains an ongoing challenge for us, as we seek to support our vital activities while keeping the lights on and staff paid. We continue to need further core funding to enable us to scale up rapidly at short notice, as we have done before when discovering unforeseen demand.
National Living Wage
All our staff over 18 are now paid at least £10.90, the National Living Wage. We’re proud to support our workforce, who largely comprise of young, first-time workers. They are gaining vital employability skills while also helping tackle digital exclusion.
We’re now looking at the next steps towards formal living wage accreditation.
Eastbourne is one of 10 locations picked for a Government Pension Credit trial, to improve take up of the benefit. Those who may be eligible currently in receipt of housing credit will receive letters encouraging them to apply.
Pensions Minister Laura Trott visited Age Concern, where we run digital drop ins every Thursday. We spoke to her about the impact of digital exclusion on older people and our service.
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House of Lords report
The Communications and Digital committee published a report on digital exclusion earlier this month. We submitted written evidence to the committee in March, which was considered by the members.
Encouragingly, the report calls on the Government to publish a new digital inclusion strategy. It also commends the work of ‘community-based digital hubs’, and calls on the Government to offer better support to these services.
We’ll be writing a more in-depth blog post with our response to the report shortly.
Train the trainer
HEART are expanding their Community Info Hub into a larger space inside Hastings Town Hall.
They recognised the need to tackle digital problems with their visitors – and called on us for help. We arranged a ‘train the trainer’ day with their lovely volunteers.
First, we tackled the question – what actually is digital exclusion? Then we covered some good ways to help, some important information for staying safe online, and other handy tricks.
We look forward to continuing to help HEART in their digital journey.
Can you help us?
Could you volunteer your time to help us run a drop-in session, or help repurpose devices? Please get in touch.
If you have old devices you aren’t using – please consider donating them to us. We’ll make sure to remove all data, and it will be a lifeline for someone with no digital access.