Citizens Online has been working in partnership with Gwynedd Council since 2011. Digital Gwynedd is an innovative partnership begun in 2015 focused on helping local people improve their internet skills and enjoy the social and economic benefits of being online. At the core of Digital Gwynedd is the drive to galvanize a strong, sustainable local partnership — now involving 35 organisations — that will continue after the current funding period.
The project is part of our wider work with national digital inclusion partnership, ‘One Digital’ — an initiative involving five organisations, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, which enables us to share knowledge and best practice, and work collaboratively. As part of the programme we are delivering our Switch approach to tackle digital exclusion in a resilient way by building an army of ‘embedded’ Digital Champions, ensuring lasting impact across a number of areas.
The Digital Gwynedd project, which helps the county’s residents to make the most of the latest technology has offered practical support to a Blaenau Ffestiniog man as he secured a new job.
Carwyn Jones recently attended one of the Digital Drop In Sessions in the Porthmadog area looking for support. Carwyn had been in full time employment in a shop in Porthmadog for over two years, but had become unemployed when the business unexpectedly closed down. Carwyn found that looking for work and claiming benefits had changed a lot, especially with more things being done online nowadays.
During the drop-in sessions Carwyn was helped by Rachel Martin, a Digital Champion with the Digital Gwynedd scheme, to set-up a new email address, organise his online job searches and completing benefit applications. After attending the sessions for three weeks he secured a new job in a local shop.
Carwyn said: “I had a smartphone and I used social media, but I had never used it for completing forms, looking for jobs and registering on websites. The help and guidance I have received as part of the Digital Gwynedd project has been of great help, and I now feel more confident in terms of doing more things online.”
The Digital Gwynedd project aims to help the county’s residents to make the most of the opportunities that the latest technology and the internet has to offer. The project, which brings together numerous partners led by Gwynedd Council with the support of the charity Citizens Online, aims to encourage better computer skills among all sections of society.
Councillor Ioan Thomas, Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “One of our key aims is to encourage digital inclusion for more residents to play a full part in the jobs market. There is a clear link between employment and digital skills, and improving those skills is integral to increasing employment across the county.
“Digital Gwynedd has a crucial role to play in this. We are determined to equip everybody to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the latest digital developments. For those who are out of work, the internet is an invaluable job hunting tool, and computer literacy is becoming more and more important in many jobs.
“Whatever your opinion of universal credit, it is anticipated that the changes that will come with it will affect many people in Gwynedd when it is introduced over the coming years, and access to computers or tablet devices and digital skills will be essential to submit applications for universal credit.”
Full details about the Digital Gwynedd drop in sessions and all public buildings with internet access is available on the website www.digitalgwynedd.wales
You can also contact Kelvin Roberts from Gwynedd Council on 01286 674698 for employment support.
Notes to Editors
About One Digital
One Digital is a collaboration of five distinct organisations (Age UK, Citizens Online, Clarion Futures (Clarion Housing Group’s charitable foundation), Digital Unite and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) working together toward a shared aim of helping people of all ages to access the benefits of digital technology.
Since the launch of the first phase in January 2016, the programme has successfully helped more than 11,000 people across the UK to get online, with many people saying the confidence and skills they gained had been ‘life changing’, from support for job hunting to social engagement. Additionally, over 1,000 Digital Champions have been recruited and trained, providing personal support to those seeking to get online, which has in turn improved their own confidence and digital expertise through helping others.
The Big Lottery Fund has since awarded One Digital further funding over three years to scale up proven approaches, transform digital skills delivery and ensure sustainability. One Digital now aims to reach 40,000 people through 4,000 Digital Champions, improving the digital skills of those most in need. Learning outcomes from the project’s’ Community of Practice will be made available to support good practice in digital inclusion.
The One Digital Partners
Age UK believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances.
One Digital Phase 2 will see multiple partners across regions transforming digital skills delivery for older people in areas with high digital exclusion. Delivered by local Age UK’s, older people will be supported to learn how digital skills can benefit them, for example by enabling them to keep in contact with loved ones, make savings by shopping online and pursue hobbies.
Citizens Online is a UK charity committed to researching, addressing and promoting the issues of digital inclusion. In collaboration with a wide range of partners, Citizens Online has been specialising in digital inclusion, skills and service transformation since 2000.
For One Digital they will embed One Digital and its Digital Champion model by using their flagship Switch approach. Switch is based on years of delivery experience and research and helps organisations increase uptake of their digital service transformation. Switch is a programme of evidence gathering, action planning and partnership development.
Citizens Online will use Switch to support the development of a long-term, scalable approach through action planning and partnership development across 20 locations. There is up to 50% match funding available from the Big Lottery Fund to support these 20 projects. Phase 2 will also enable a ‘deep dive’ in two locations, Brighton and Hove and Gwynedd (in the Welsh language), showing transformation in action.
Clarion Futures is part of Clarion Housing Group and is a registered charitable foundation. We will invest £150 million over ten years to deliver one of the largest social investment programmes in the country. Our mission is to provide social housing residents with the support, skills and opportunities to transform their lives and communities for the better.
Digital Unite is one of the UK’s leading providers of digital skills learning and the only organisation that focuses exclusively on vocational training and support for Digital Champions.
For One Digital, Digital Unite will continue to facilitate the Digital Champion infrastructure for each partner project using their existing online train-the-trainer platform, the Digital Champions Network. With their evidence base and a learner-led co-design process, they will be using new technologies and teaching approaches to radically extend the Network’s support. Digital Unite is also supporting individuals and organisations from a wide variety of sectors with establishing their own local Digital Champion movements underpinned by the Network’s products and services.
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is the membership organisation for Scotland’s charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. A dedicated team is working across public, private and third sectors in Scotland to increase digital participation.
Their One Digital project will transform the Scottish third sector to become more digitally confident and capable. By creating a meaningful intervention at leadership, organisation and individual levels they will propel the third sector to the centre of the digital revolution.
About the Big Lottery Fund
The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invests over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people. Every year it funds 13,000 small local projects tackling big social problems like poor mental health and homelessness.