Dorset is celebrating Get Online Week (15-21 October) by announcing a partnership with digital inclusion experts Citizens Online. Around 150,000 of Dorset residents, including Poole and Bournemouth, lack at least one digital skill. Citizens Online is helping to build the county’s digital champions programme – and is inviting any organization interested in helping to reduce digital exclusion to join.
People who lack digital skills can’t always access the services they need. They also miss out on the many benefits that digital can bring, such as feeling less alone, finding work, saving money and improving health.
Over 50 trained volunteer digital champions offer free support in libraries and other venues across Dorset. To book onto a session near you, ring 01305 221048. Around 30 organisations manage the champions programme – to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.orgMike Watson helps Mary Witt get online at Dorchester library
Citizens Online is rolling out its award winning Switch approach to understand digital inclusion in Dorset better and make sure sufficient support is available to those who need it. Switch is funded by local partners and The Big Lottery Fund as part of the One Digital programme.
Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for skills, said: “The Routes to Inclusion programme has already achieved much; now we want to reach even more of our residents and enable them to get the best from the digital connectivity that is now available across Dorset. We are a forward-thinking county and we know people need help to embrace digital technology so they can benefit financially and socially, and access our public services better.”
John Fisher, Chief Executive of Citizens Online, said: “We have been impressed with the progress and successes that the Routes to Inclusion Group has already achieved on this difficult issue of supporting digital skills. We’re delighted to be working with the group. We want to change the way local service providers and funders perceive the issue of digital inclusion – from being a ‘bolt on activity’ to a way of working that is part of business as usual.”