The landscape of digital inclusion is changing. In the almost-two-years since the first lockdown, the importance of digital services and access has been under the spotlight as organisations pivoted, and changed the way they delivered support to some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people.
National responses, like Connecting Scotland, helped to support 60,000 people online. The programme meant many people were accessing the internet for the first time. As a result, people were able to keep in touch with loved ones, use services from health to banking, and learn new skills. By providing this essential lifeline, Connecting Scotland helped to make strides in reducing a prevailing inequality.
But emergency responses are by their nature short-term. Digital exclusion was never highlighted so crucially as a social issue until the pandemic, and now is our opportunity to ensure that momentum isn’t lost. We know that people access support to get online through services they trust – and often those services are based in and around the places they live.
This is why, over the past nine months, SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) has been testing a ‘place-based’ approach to digital inclusion. Through engaging with a range of partners in different places across Scotland, we’re trying to understand how we can bring people together in communities to promote increased digital participation.
Our role in this work has been that of facilitators, but it has become clear that local passion and motivation is key to success. This work has to be led by the place, by people who have local knowledge and who can work in meaningful partnership to achieve a common aim: improving the community for everyone. These people care about the areas they live in and see digital inclusion as a responsibility for everyone.
One of our key partners in this work, Renfrewshire Council, has benefited from the focus on place-based digital participation programme. We’ve invited Diane Webb, Digital Policy Lead at the Council, to share their experiences – and importantly, next steps – with you.
We also want to talk about how your place could benefit from this programme. It’s our ambition to offer our knowledge and learning to support many more places across Scotland, and help provide sustainable, locally-led solutions.
Join us on 23rd February at 10am for an interactive discussion to learn about this work, why it’s important and how it can support the digital inclusion journey in your place. We’ll cover:
We’re excited about this work, and we’d love to share it with you. If you’re working in digital inclusion, in the voluntary or public sectors, this is the event for you.
Book onto the webinar here.