Social inclusion scheme helps one million gain digital skills

The Good Things Foundation is celebrating helping one million people with their digital skills, but warns 6.9m will still be excluded by 2028 at the current rate of change.

Joe Lepper | 17th Jan 19
Carolyn Hill among those helped develop digital skills with Good Things Foundation.

A social inclusion programme has reached its target of helping one million people develop their digital skills within five years.

The Future Digital Inclusion programme launched in 2014 and is backed by £15m in Department for Education funding.

Programme manager, the charity Good Things Foundation, has announced that the initiative has succeeded in meeting its target of helping one million socially and digitally excluded people boost their digital skills.

Work has involved working with community groups and using local online centres to help those who are excluded from the digital world and face issues such as unemployment, poverty and loneliness.

Among those who have been supported through the charity’s digital inclusion work is Liverpool resident Carolyn Hill, who needed to improve her computer skills to find work after being made redundant.

“I was useless. I didn’t know how to turn a computer on, never mind do anything on them. I had to ask my children to help me get set up to do job searches. I’d find myself just waiting for them to come home from school so I could start searching,” she said.

“But the people working at the centre, in such a short space of time, taught me to use the computer. It was scary but I picked it up pretty easily in the end. Without them, I would have really struggled to get to where I am now.

“I was devastated when I lost my job but now I’ve got a new job I love. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and I got there in the end – and it’s the best place to go.”

More than 4m people have no digital skills

Good Things Foundation chief executive Helen Milner added: “If you’re not using the internet in 2019, you’re at a huge disadvantage. Technology continues to change how we live and work, and those excluded from the digital world are being left behind. They’re also overwhelmingly those more likely to be socially excluded in a range of ways.

“It’s vital we help them gain the confidence and skills they need, and evidence and experience show that community-based support is the most effective approach.”

According to Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Skills Index 2018 an estimated 11.3m adults lack at least one basic digital skill and 4.2m people have no digital skills.

At the current rate of progress by 2028 there will still be 6.9m people without the digital skills needed for life and work, according to Good Things Foundation analysis released last year.

The programme finishes at the end of March this year.