Over the past 3 years, Positive People have supported participants with varying levels of digital skills. These skill level have impacted their lives in many ways but especially in their inclusion in the developing digital world.
A recent document which was published by the University of Liverpool, explores the reasons why people are offline and how this affects their access in the digital world we live in and their digital skill level.
According to the study, currently 11.3 million people lack at least one digital skill and shows even though this level is dropping that there will still be at least 6.9 million people by the year 2028. This is a very concerning statistic, due to the fact everything in our world is becoming digital from our high street banks to GP appointments, job searching to shopping online.
The report also states that:
‘Digital exclusion and social exclusion are closely related, and the recent slowing in the rate of national progress in digital inclusion suggests that those remaining offline are facing the highest levels of social exclusion. Increasingly, we will need to build on current best practice to develop even more engaging and effective ways of reaching and supporting those who face very real barriers in their lives.’
This is where the importance of Positive People comes in and the work we do with those furthest from inclusion in our society. Many of the participants we have worked with didn’t have access to the digital world due to not be able to afford equipment that would enable them the access. With the support of the project they have been able to access the digital world through new equipment and access to WIFI.
This new equipment and support from our digital trainers have not only given these people access to job searching and ability to training that previously they would have not been comfortable with to complete. It has also made them feel less isolated in a changing world.
A lady who had attended the Ageing Well Workshops is now using her improved digital skills to connect with her son via video messaging in New Zealand. These sessions and support from our trainers gave her the confidence to communicate with her family in a way she would never have before.
Another one of our participants, who is setting up a jewellery business in South Devon was unable to access the platforms that would best support her business online. With support from Positive People and the equipment needed to allow her to take images of her work and post these online she has been able to set up a business that will not only support her financially but also support her mental health.
This report demonstrates the powerful link between digital exclusion and different dimensions of social exclusion. Digital inclusion supports better social outcomes by helping people increase their confidence, self-efficacy and resilience. Equally, digital inclusion works best when it recognises and reflects individual needs, and helps people achieve outcomes that are relevant to their lives. This research therefore underlines again the case for embedding digital inclusion in all types of social support programme, whether public, private or community sector.