How the collaborative approach is tackling digital exclusion

17th September 2018

The One Digital programme is made up of five diverse UK organisations united by one goal: to help people of all backgrounds and skill levels to make the most of the digital world.

According to the 2018 Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index, just over eleven million people in the UK have limited basic digital skills such as being able to use a search engine, shop or manage their money online.

In 2015, six diverse UK organisations launched the One Digital programme, through support from the Big Lottery Fund, with the aim of putting their heads together to improve digital inclusion. They achieved this by using Digital Champions – trained individuals who can support people to get online and gain confidence in using digital technologies.

In its first ‘test-and-learn’ year the programme surpassed expectations, recruiting and training over 1,100 Digital Champions and supporting over 11,000 people to be more confident online. Five of the organisations continued the partnership (Age UK, Citizens Online, Clarion Futures, Digital Unite and SCVO) and secured Big Lottery funding for another three years from 2017. Their current goal is to recruit and train a further 3,000 Digital Champions and support 37,000 people by 2020.

Why is the digital inclusion issue so important?

This is fundamentally important for lots of reasons. For example not being online excludes people from so many vital activities, take employment and access to benefits as a starting point. Most jobs are advertised online, so if you lack basic digital skills, you immediately face a fundamental barrier to getting into work.

A large concern is for Universal Credit. If you’re not confident online you aren’t going to claim your universal credit, and you have no income. And it’s not just claiming it, you have to manage your universal credit claim online and if you don’t know how or don’t have the kit it’s a massive barrier.

The financial cost of not being online is huge. Recent research on the ‘poverty premium’ shows that not being online means you can’t get access to cheaper products and services – things that add up to a significant amount of savings every year.

Alarmingly 6% of our young tenants are digitally excluded. This has a very different impact on a young person than someone who is maybe in their 80’s and not online, as they are not accessing services, or accessing the finances and jobs they need, and it’s just another form of social exclusion.

What is the benefit of the collaborative, inter-organisational approach?

Collaboration has a massive role to play. Because all the partners are very different, they all bring different insights. And then you start to think ‘how does that insight work for me as an organisation and my client group – what can I take from that?’

There are lots of things coming out where we might not see the relevance now but it sits in the back of our head and we ask ‘I wonder if that would work here?’

They have a supportive, respectful open network. They can look at each other’s models and constantly challenge and ask questions. ‘Is it something we should do?’ ‘Why does it work?’ ‘What doesn’t work?’ ‘What do you think my problem would be if I tried to do that here?’

One Digital is open for other partners to get involved

They are five organisations at the moment – when they initially launched AbilityNet was also a partner. They always said it’s a really flexible partnership, not fixed.

Any organisation that works in the area of digital inclusion with the digital champion model is welcome to work within the partnership, whether for a short period of time or a longer period. Their aim is to be an evolving partnership, working in as many ways as we can to make sure that the UK is a digitally inclusive society.

How to get involved: if you would like to learn more about the One Digital partnership and how your organisation can get involved, get in touch with One Digital Programme Director Sarah Cant: sarah.cant@ageuk.org.uk