Sunday, 8 December 2019

Digital Evolution: Healthier. Happier. Better Off Good Things Foundation Annual Conference, London, 19th November 2019


Digital Evolution: Healthier. Happier. Better Off
Good Things Foundation Annual Conference, London, 19th November 2019
Draft Report from Jenny Sims
For the NPC Digital Inclusion/Exclusion Working Party, 3rd December 2019

INTRODUCTION The Good Things Foundation, based in Sheffield, is a social change charity, aimed at helping people, including older people, improve their lives through digital.  They work in communities nationally and internationally to deliver deep impact at scale.

OVERVIEW The conference was well-worth attending because:  I gained a greater understanding of the state of digital inclusion and exclusion in the UK and internationally from the speakers’ excellent presentations, the Q&A sessions, workshop discussions, and informal networking – which will be useful to the NPC’s Digital WP.

From the above I came away with a number of successful examples of how older people have been helped to transform and improve their lives, and a variety of ideas for the NPC’s Campaign on Digital Inclusion and Exclusion.

In addition, after the conference, I was able to talk privately to Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive and tell her about the NPC – the organisation, membership and the Pensioners Convention.  I also told her that I had suggested* her as a speaker on Social Inclusion & Life Long Learning at the next Convention in June and asked if she would be interested. (*at the NPC EC meeting Nov. 19th). Yes, she is! (I had an email the next day before she flew to Australia).

RECOMMENDATIONS
·         The NPC invites Helen Milner OBE, the Group Chief Executive, as a speaker on Social Inclusion and Life Long Learning at the NPC’s next Pensioners Convention in Southport in June. Helen was awarded an OBE for services to digital inclusion.  She’s worked in the House of Commons as a member of The Speaker’s Commission for Digital Democracy and was the Specialist Adviser on Digital Engagement to the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee. She is a member of the Digital Skills Partnership Board chaired by the UK’s Digital Minister.

·         The NPC considers becoming a ‘partner’ organisation of the Good Things Organisation to help us to enable disadvantaged older people to overcome the barriers to inclusion, build motivation, tap into GTO’s training skills’ support, enable local collaboration and networking. Also, importantly, the organisation is very successful at securing funding from a wide range of sources which they could advise us on, or possibly share in a partnered project pitch.

SOME SUCCESS STORIES, IDEAS  & STATS
Leeds Libraries. Jason Tutin, currently leading the city’s “100% Digital Leeds” digital inclusion programme which is increasing the digital confidence, capacity and connectivity of organisations across Leeds with the biggest tablet lending scheme in the country, grant funding opportunities, Digital Champions training and extending free Wi-Fi.   Jason and his team are working with communities to remove barriers to digital inclusion and improve outcomes for everyone.
(Re. ‘tablet lending’. In the Q&A which followed this presentation, a member of the audience extolled a similar scheme in her area, going on to explain that some older people who had learned how to use computers this way had become ‘teachers’ themselves.  Similar examples were given of an Australian scheme where digital  ‘learners’ in their eighties, had gone on to become ‘digital trainers.’ I will pass on these examples to NPC Wales and the Vale of Glamorgan library service which has recently launch a tablet-lending scheme).

Can digital inclusion make people healthier? Three participants in a panel discussion claimed it can.
Pete Nuckley, GTF’s Senior Service Designer has been leading their work in digital health for three years through the NHS Widening Digital Participation Programme, co-designing 23 different projects helping the most excluded groups in England improve their health and wellbeing through digital. These include the homeless community in Hastings and elderly isolated people in Northumberland.
Paul Davies and his wife Sue run Destinations@Saltburn, a Community Resource and Online Centre in Teeside which provide accredited and non-accredited training for people of all ages and backgrounds, and any skill level, as well as programmes to promote digital inclusion.
Saira Arif, former Digital Citizen & Innovation Project Manager for North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups, has recently joined ORCHA, the health app evaluation and advisory organisation.

Funding opportunities (from a handout at the Accessibility Workshop I attended)
Has the NPC considered applying to NATIONAL LOTTERY AWARDS FOR ALL:
Grants from £300 - £10,000 to support what matters to people and communities. They will fund organisations with great project ideas that:
·         Shape the places and spaces that matter to communities.
·         Bring more people together and build strong relationships in and across communities.

STATS
From a slide, DIGITAL NATION 2019, facts, stats and closing the gaps.   www.goodthingsfoundation.org
OFFLINE NATION (9% of the population are non-users):  Low income, older, uneducated – have none of the 7 Foundation Digital Skills. They worry about: identity theft (60%); privacy and security (58%); use of their data (55%)
ONLINE NATION (91%): Better off, young, educated.  They know how to handle informationand content, transact, communicate and problem solve.
LIMITED USERS (22%): Have some skills. 36% of these are 75+ years.
11.9m people in the UK lack essential digital skills.

CONCLUSION
Judging from the wide range of about 100 attendees from across the UK representing governments, the public sector, private sector, voluntary sector and individuals there is a huge amount of work being done to address both digital inclusion and exclusion, and there are many examples of successes. As the NCP’s Digital Campaign aims to signpost members to what is locally available to them, we should start as soon as possible to do so by getting the support and engagement of our Regions.
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