Digi Inclusion is a Maudsley Charity funded community programme which aims to combat exclusion from digital resources and learning among mental health service users. It addresses the challenges, limitations, and lack of access to digital services faced by many Lambeth residents.
With an increasing amount of fundamental services such as housing, universal credit and banking moving online, it is vital to improve digital literacy. Over 5% of Lambeth residents do not regularly use the internet, which amounts to an estimated 12,000 people (ONS, 2019).
Digital Engagement Officer and Online Learner Fund
The funding has provided a dedicated member of staff, who delivers training and support, as well as an ‘online learner fund’ which gives out funding of up to £500 for a service user to do an online course of their choice.
Oliver Jones is the Digital Engagement Officer, and teaches an 8-week group workshop in basic IT skills, as well as giving one-to-one advice, and ad hoc support to anyone who drops in and wants to use the computer suite or has a query.
Oli said: “The great thing about the weekly two-hour workshop is that just a few sessions can have a huge impact on someone. You’re giving people the confidence to give it a go.”
I feel at ease at Digi-Inclusion – the support they give is much wider than just the digital skills training
One of the main aims of Digi-Inclusion is to help people back into employment, by supporting them to use the online learner fund to take vocational courses, find out how to search and apply for jobs, but also by building their wellbeing and self-esteem.
Mehari is one of the participants who has benefitted from the online learner fund, having completed an online accounting course. He said: “I feel like this course has given me a chance to compete in the labour market. Digi-Inclusion has improved my confidence, my opportunities and helped me apply my skills. I couldn’t have done it without the financial support.”
The Maudsley Charity have also funded five iPads, so that participants can learn how to use tablets. This complements a wide range of skills training they offer, from simple but essential tools like setting up an email address, or using a smart phone, to more personalised support like launching a website to showcase someone’s portfolio.
Ugo is a peer workshop tutor of the digital skills course and says: “Digi-Inclusion targets the needs of the individual, and focuses on what clients want to achieve, meaning they are more engaged in their learning.”
It is part of Vocation Matters at Beale House, Stockwell, a user-led community organisation which serves the needs of local South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust service-users. It is integrated within South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and offers support in education, employment, training, volunteering and welfare.
In the 2020 Community and Connection grants programme, Digi Inclusion was awarded funding for an additional two years, to support the project to address the lack of access to digital resources in today’s online and digital world.
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