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Funding to build skills and bridge the digital divide

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Release date:
25 6 2015

The Big Lottery Fund is today announcing funding for two ‘test and learn’ initiatives to open up access to health, welfare and employment services by improving digital skills.

Around 10.5 million people in the UK lack the skills to access many key online services*. In addition, around half of disabled people and 42 per cent of people with an income of less than £12,500 a year, do not use the internet**. These groups are finding themselves becoming increasingly reliant on friends and family to access services that are moving to digital channels.

To tackle this, the Big Lottery Fund is supporting pilot initiatives led by Tinder Foundation and Digital Unite with £450,000 funding.

Tinder Foundation, which receives £329,958, will target three groups – homeless people, families in poverty and people with mental health problems. It has formed a partnership with Family Fund, Mind and Homeless Link for the Reboot UK project which will rebuild the lives of people through personalised digital skills training and community-based support which will enable them to be more in charge of their own lives. The project will support 1,200 people and will gather evidence of how improved digital skills can lead to better health and wellbeing through access to information and services.

Tinder Foundation Chief Executive Helen Milner said: "This funding from the Big Lottery Fund will have a real impact on individuals and groups who could benefit significantly from digital skills, but conversely are the least likely to have them. By working closely with our strong consortium of partners - Family Fund, Homeless Link and Mind - and implementing a test and learn model, we'll be able to provide targeted help to individuals in poverty to really help them improve their health and wellbeing, as well as creating a model that can have a significant impact when scaled."

The second pilot project, a consortium led by Digital Unite called One Digital, will develop ‘digital champions’ within disability, youth and support organisations. Digital champions will, for example, demonstrate the use of Skype to an older person to help them stay in touch with grandchildren and family, or help a young person search for work and complete an online CV.

Digital Unite receives a development grant of £49,942 to help them work up detailed plans with the aim of identifying, training and developing approximately 390 digital champions who will support up to 1,000 disabled and around 630 young people overcome the issues they face. Digital Unite’s proposal includes AbilityNet and Affinity Sutton as subcontractors.

Other members of the One Digital consortium are Age UK, Citizens Online and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) which receive development grants to work up the following initiatives:

  • Age UK, which receives £20,866, aims to recruit digital champions to promote the benefits of skills in digital technology in community settings.
  • Citizens Online, which receives £34,400, aims to tackle digital exclusion in four local authority areas across the UK.
  • SCVO, which receives £16,450, aims to develop and assess the contribution that existing frontline voluntary and community sector organisations can make in improve the skills of people.

Dawn Austwick, Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive, said: “Digital is an increasingly important part of everyday life. Our funding will let more people gain the skills they need to access a range of important services whilst new approaches, evidence gathered and lessons learnt will enable organisations to target the right people and offer them the skills to succeed digitally.”

Today’s announcement follows a major award in July 2014 when the Big Lottery Fund awarded £5.8 million to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to engage with a million people and raise their awareness of the range of equipment and programmes that can help to make technology accessible to people with sight or hearing loss. The grant came from the Fund’s Basic Online Skills funding programme which was developed as part of their commitment as a board partner of digital skills charity Go ON UK which aims to ensure everyone in the UK has the basic digital skills they need.

Baroness Lane-Fox, Chair of Go ON UK, said: “It is wonderful to see more funding announced that will help the 10.5 million UK adults who lack basic digital skills. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you are from, there will be ways that you can benefit from embracing digital skills. This funding will make a real difference to the groups who are most in need of it.”

Website:   www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Twitter:   @biglotteryfund #BigLottery
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BigLotteryFund

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Notes to Editors:

*10.5 million people in the UK lack the skills to access many key online services. BBC Basic Digital Skills 2014.
**49 per cent of disabled people and 42 per cent of people with a household income of less than £12,500 a year, do not use the internet. Oxford Internet Survey 2013.

  • The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8 billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £33 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.