Multiple funders, including Sussex Community Foundation, Eastbourne Borough Council, and Lewes District Council
Since moving in to our new base, minutes away from Eastbourne’s town centre, we’ve become more closely connected with our local community, and have started to build up a picture of the challenges it faces. We’ve been spending more of our time than ever tackling digital exclusion both in Eastbourne and throughout Sussex.
Many people who are digitally excluded also find it hard, for many reasons, to keep appointments and access support services. Rather than lay on formal ‘classes’ or ‘workshops’, we decided running digital drop-in sessions would offer a lower barrier to entry.
Our base near Eastbourne town centre has high footfall, but we’ve also run our sessions throughout the town, and county, targeting venues where other support groups take place. These have included Leaf Hall, Age Concern Eastbourne, Lewes House of Friendship, and Willingdon Trees – to list just a few. We’ve also combined our drop-ins with opening, over winter, as a “warm space”, and with providing energy information packs for staying warm and keeping bills down at home.
At these sessions, we provide a warm welcome and 1:1 coaching to help tackle any immediate issues, and build up confidence to help develop skills.
Just some of the tasks we’ve helped people with are:
- Filling out forms – such as applying for college courses, or keeping Universal Credit journals updated
- Staying safe on the internet – by setting strong passwords and enabling two-factor authentication, and learning how to spot scams
- Setting up new devices
- Transferring and backing up data
- Managing files and emails
- Learning how to use essential apps for work, such as Word and Excel
We’re currently open for drop-ins at our base on Thursdays from 1-5pm, and Fridays from 12-5pm.
We’ve helped over 300 people in the first year, and the need is increasing.
Digital exclusion prevents people – often those already at highest risk of exclusion from mainstream society – from staying in touch with support networks and completing everyday essential online tasks. Here are just some of the things it’s harder, or impossible, to do without the confidence in your digital skills:
- Apply for jobs
- Access healthcare information and appointments via the NHS
- Claim benefits
- Stay in touch with friends and family
- Work – most employers now require communication and tasks to be online
We’ve learnt from first-hand testimonies how vital our support is – not only because of the impact digital exclusion can have – but because few other places are able to offer it.
The cost-of-living crisis means our fantastic front-line support groups are facing record levels of demand – including, inevitably, with digital issues. We’re now working with their staff and volunteers to help them better support their clients as the first port of call.