Digital access is more important now than ever
The Covid-19 pandemic has served to highlight both how central technology has become to how we deliver public services, and how necessary digital access is for Lambeth’s residents and businesses to stay connected, learn, keep well, access help and advice, and be engaged in society.
We know that thousands of Lambeth residents are digitally excluded to some degree. It is an issue that affects many different people, including children and young people, older people, disabled people and vulnerable adults. Digital exclusion can refer to:
- being unable to access equipment to get online, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone – this can also include only having access to an inadequate or shared device
- being unable to connect to the internet reliably or at all, either through lack of an internet connection in the household, lack of data allowance, or poor Wi-Fi availability in the area
- being unable to use technology due to a lack of skills, confidence, motivation, or accessibility issues
Whatever your background, digital access can be the key to overcoming all sorts of challenges, whether that’s applying for a job, accessing online learning during lockdown or tackling loneliness and isolation by communicating with friends and family.
How we have responded
During the initial Covid-19 response, Lambeth Council worked with schools, voluntary and community sector groups, and private sector partners to identify need, acquire equipment, and distribute it to those who needed it. However, demand exceeds the level of support that is currently available to address the issue. To meet the longer term challenges we face, Lambeth is finalising a new Digital Strategy and launching a new strategic programme, Digital Lambeth, to deliver the goals set out in the strategy. These go beyond issues of access and also aim to improve the infrastructure that underpins it, as well as how the council works to deliver services and support digital business growth in the borough.
Stories about our work so far
The first grants from Lambeth’s Digital Inclusion Fund are buying more than 300 laptops, tablets, mobile phones, mi-fi, wifi and dongles for adults excluded by lack of digital access.
A new £200,000 Digital Inclusion Fund from Lambeth will help voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations and schools help those most in need to get connected.
Lambeth is helping to tackle social isolation during the Covid-19 crisis, through a new campaign to give thousands of unused smartphones to vulnerable people in the most deprived areas of the UK.
“Digital inclusion is more than getting people online” – that’s the core message of ClearCommunityWeb – and one that Lambeth Council and local charities share.
A partnership project to help vulnerable Lambeth residents learn to use tablet computers is based on learning about subjects that matter to them.
Lambeth Council helped fund the Connecting Tulse Hill project to meet their initial £10,000 crowdfunder target –giving local people access to schools, services and more via computers and mobile tablets.
Lambeth Council has been delivery laptops to schools across the borough to boost online access amongst vulnerable children.
A newly published Lambeth Digital Inclusion report conducted by young people into the digital skills gap has reviewed ongoing efforts by Lambeth and suggested ways to ensure the fund can directly benefit even more people in the future.