Helping people get online and access services locally

Digital exclusion is more complicated than just not having a computer and in this workshop at our recent 'On Equal Terms' conference, we explored what the issues are and some of the work being done locally to tackle it.
Digital Exclusion workshop at Healthwatch 'On Equal Terms' conference

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a big shift to services, appointments and information moving online.

But for various reasons, not everyone is able to make the switch.

  • Not everyone wants to go online
  • Some people can’t afford a computer or smartphone or Internet access
  • They might not have the right skills to use the technology
  • They are worried about scams.
  • They live in an area where there is no Broadband or a mobile signal.

Graham Lewis, from our Healthwatch, talked about how meetings for the local Adult Social Care Partnership Boards had to move online because of the lockdown.

He highlighted the difficulties for some of the Boards’ independent members and how they were supported to stay involved in different ways.

We'd even gone as far as offering one of our carers a laptop. And as you can see here, he said, "Will someone come and sit with me and show me how to use it, switch it on etc?". He's never used computers. It's not part of his life.
— Graham Lewis, Partnership Development Manager

Supporting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

The workshop also heard about a Healthwatch project supporting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in our area.

Thanks to National Lottery funding, we have supported 20 families and individuals to access online health information and appointments. 

We provided them with a tablet, technical support and six months connectivity with mobile data.

And as well as helping people connect to healthcare, people have been able to use the tablets for home schooling, adult learning and more.

Promoting digital inclusion 

Sally Page, from Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service, highlighted local organisations who are helping to promote digital inclusion across our area.

She explained how the pandemic had increased digital exclusion locally and nationally, saying:

"... Cambridgeshire Community Foundation in their 'Vital Signs' report ... found that around 12% of the population or 100,000 people in Cambridgeshire had limited access to the internet. So, you can kind of see the scale of the problem through those kinds of numbers. 

Four local organisations have banded together during the pandemic to form Cambridgeshire Digital Partnership.

They aim to help more people get online by boosting skills, hardware and Internet connections.

Find out more

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