An initiative to investigate how those living with a disability or in poverty can benefit from gaining digital skills has been launched by digital inclusion charity the Tinder Foundation.
Funded with £329,958 from the Big Lottery Fund, the charity's Reboot UK initiative will investigate which training schemes are best for three hard to reach groups:
- Families living in poverty (and particularly those with children living with a disability)
- Homeless people
- People living with mental health problems.
12.6 million people without basic digital skills
According to the charity, across the UK there are 12.6 million people without basic digital skills. The challenges of digital inclusion are particularly stark among Britons who are living in poverty and those living with disabilities. The Tinder Foundation found that half of people living with a disability and 42 percent of those in poverty don’t possess the skills needed to access digital services.
The lack of digital skills is a major issue and means many people are unable to access public services which are now offered digitally, such as GP services and the NHS Choices website. They also miss out on online learning and the ability to search and apply for jobs online, says the Tinder Foundation.
Recent research by Turn2us’ as part of the No Cold Homes campaign found that there was lack of awareness of the help available to those living with a disability on low incomes. Of those who are struggling to pay their energy costs, only 7% had turned to an advice organisation for help. Almost three-quarters (72%) had not checked their eligibility for welfare benefits in the last twelve months, whilst 76% are unaware that some energy suppliers have charitable trusts set up to help certain customers.
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive Turn2us said: “As a charity supporting people who are struggling financially, we welcome the news of this initiative. It’s great timing for the people we support as so much of the help that is out there is to be found online. Turn2us frequently works with local organisations to help those who struggle with digital skills to access our services. Reboot UK will help ensure more people can find out what help is available.”
“I’d urge anyone concerned that they, or someone they know, are struggling financially to visit the Turn2us website to find out what financial support is available in the form of welfare benefits and charitable grants. There is also information about how those struggling to access support online can be referred to other channels of support.”
Tinder Foundation comments
Laurence Percy from the Tinder Foundation commented: “Everyone has the right to digital skills and the charity is committed to discovering the best way to reach out to those who are currently being left behind by digital skills programmes.
"Reboot UK will allow us to create and test evidence-based models of intervention that will support some of the most excluded groups in society. There will then be the potential to roll these interventions out on a much wider scale.”
The charity's Reboot UK initiative is a 12-month project run in partnership with Homeless Link, Mind and Family Fund, and is also supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Source: Tinder Foundation press release