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Community Digital Literacy Project

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 Project Brief

UKSPF Interventions - E34: Courses, including basic, life and career skills

Context

Digital exclusion has been identified as a significant issue for Preston residents. 

A recent study into the subject commissioned by Preston City Council identified that many residents struggle to use digital devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs.

The main barriers to digital inclusion were found to include generational gaps, economic disadvantages, low literacy levels, health issues and language barriers. This was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

Specific issues raised through the digital inclusion study included: 

  • Young people having good digital literacy in some areas like social media, but lacking skills in using email or online application forms.  
  • Fuel poverty and the cost-of-living causing limited access to electricity, Wi-Fi and data poverty.  
  • Older people lacking access to devices or knowledge of how to use them.  
  • People of all ages having access to smart phones but limited ability to fill out online forms e.g. for job applications.  
  • Lack of literacy skills and language barriers preventing navigation of online platforms.  
  • Distrust of digital systems.  

Digital exclusion has knock-on effects on the health, well-being and quality of life of individuals.

Digital access is essential for socialising, accessing public services, accessing education and employment, remote working and managing finances. This is particularly important for vulnerable groups such as rough sleepers and those who required mental health support in Preston. Therefore, digital poverty can push people into other forms of poverty, this is particularly due to its direct link to economic opportunities.  

Programme Outline

The aim of this project is to provide holistic, tailored, bespoke support for those who lack digital literacy skills in order to help them carry out day to day functions such as shopping online, making job or benefit applications, engaging in social media, carrying out internet searches and paying bills.  This support can be provided in a variety of ways, including through classes as well as through drop-in one to one support services. 

This project will differ from other digital literacy learning programmes because there will be no need for participants to undertake formal qualifications whilst learning about the use of digital devices.  However, it is expected that all participants will have the opportunity to progress to formal essential digital skills qualifications provided by adult learning providers, should they wish to.

It is anticipated that this programme will especially benefit older and socially excluded residents as well as residents who do not speak English as their first language.  There will also be an expectation that the provider will deliver some specific support to help residents with carrying out online job searches and applications.  It is expected that digital literacy support will be carried out by qualified trainers who are supported by volunteers who have undertaken training to be Digital Champions as part of the programme.

The successful applicant will be expected to work closely with local voluntary and community sector organisations to identify suitable venues for the project delivery across Preston's communities, especially in those wards which experience higher than average levels of deprivation such as Fishwick, St Matthews, St George's and Frenchwood. 

The successful organisation will also be expected to become an active member of Preston Digital Co-operative for the duration of the project, a new community social enterprise that will be set up to make decisions about how additional UKSPF funding should be directed to tackle digital exclusion in the city.  These community links should also be drawn on to support the recruitment of residents who require digital skills support.

Financial Profile

 

Capital

Revenue

Total Expenditure

Year 24/25

 

£50,000

£50,000

Outputs*

Number of people supported or engaged in skills

150

Number of socially excluded people accessing support

70

Number of people receiving support to gain employment

50

Number of volunteering opportunities supported

15

Number of people supported to access basic skills courses

35

Outcomes*

Number of people engaged in life-skills following interventions

150

Number of people with basic skills following support

150

* The output and outcome figures shown are the minimum which Preston City Council expects the available funding to deliver.

Applicants applying for the full amount would be expected to meet these targets as a minimum. Where an applicant is applying for a share of the funding, we expect outputs and outcomes to be delivered in proportion to the share applied for.

 

Project Timeline

  • Date of launch for commissioning - 8 November 2023
  • Deadline for receipt of applications - 15 December 2023 at 17:00
  • Notification of whether applications have been successful - 8 January 2024
  • Issuing of grant agreements, commencement of projects - 1 April 2024
  • Project end - 31 March 2025

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