September 12th is End Digital Poverty Day, read on to find out why it’s important, and what we are doing at Citizens Online do end digital poverty – for good!
Imagine your life without the internet. Think about how you would go about booking tickets for an event, helping your child with their homework, navigating to a new place, reporting your missed bin, renewing your car insurance, applying for a job, paying your bills or watching a streaming service to unwind. Sadly for 10 million adults in the UK this is reality as they lack the basic skills to access the digital world1.
Digital poverty, or digital exclusion means:
“the inability to interact with the online world fully, when, where, and how an individual needs to”.– Digital Poverty Alliance
In an ever-increasing digital world, digital poverty is becoming a bigger issue, excluding people from accessing key services and enjoying the benefits of being online. You can read about key statistics on the digital divide in the UK here.
People experience digital poverty in different ways. For some, it may be that they can’t afford a device or data connection and for another they may have a device and internet connection, but they are not confident to use them. As technology advances, it demands updated devices and new skills from users making it challenging to keep up. People that are older, disabled, living on low income, live alone or have a low level of formal education are more likely to experience digital poverty. However, anyone can be digitally excluded at any time in their life.
Citizens Online supports the call for a minimum digital living standard. Being online is an essential service and more must be done to protect the most vulnerable from experiencing digital poverty. We work to end digital poverty in the following ways:
Help for people experiencing digital poverty
We operate a freephone digital skills helpline that anyone in the UK can call for support with digital skills. Our team of trained digital champions offer support to help build digital skills and confidence. We also run digital inclusion projects in England and Wales offering tailored one-to-one in person support, we provide devices and connectivity (data dongles and SIMs) to those in need.
Our support makes a huge difference to people’s lives, enabling our learners to:
- apply for jobs
- access benefits and key services
- save money
- take up hobbies
- keep in contact with loved ones
- better manage their long-term health conditions and disabilities
The biggest impact our support has on learners is their increased confidence and improved mental health. 95% of our learners in Gwynedd told us their confidence increased.
If you yourself or someone you know would like digital support you can contact our helpline here.
Last year we directly supported over 2700 learners and distributed 475 devices. As well as helping learners, an essential part of our work and key to solving digital poverty for the long term is to embed digital inclusion practices into organisations.
Supporting organisations to digitally transform
Helping end users is only part of the puzzle to end digital exclusion. We also work with organisations to design better, more inclusive digital services. Digital inclusion must sit at the heart of digital transformation work and not be an afterthought, otherwise your digital transformation will not be successful.
Over the last year we have engaged over 3800 stakeholders across 18 projects, to recommend practical, cost saving solutions to avoid digitally excluding people. We design digital inclusion strategies, action plans, produce business cases to implement change and build digital inclusion networks to facilitate sustainability for this work. You can read about our project in Brighton and Hove here, and read about our work with Brent Council here.
Working collaboratively to end digital poverty
Digital poverty will not be solved by any single organisation, we support the sector with our work to improve the impact and ensure that no one is left behind in today’s digital age.
Contact us to find out how we can help you to end digital poverty.