With a particular focus on people who are unemployed, low-skilled or disabled, the programme reached some of the most isolated and socially excluded people in society.
We were also pleased to see the difference we’ve been able to make to those who need it most – 80% of our learners were identified as socially excluded yet 70% moved on to further learning and 60% progressed to employment related activities.
Margaret McDonald, 55, was diagnosed with alcoholism after a visit to her doctor who helped her get the help she needed.
Margaret explains: “I was referred to a local charity that helped me wean myself off the drink. By the time I’d spent a year with them, I’d given up alcohol. But I’d had to give up work to keep up with my treatment and I was suffering from terrible depression. I felt like I was of no use to anyone – including my family. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be alive anymore.”
Margaret was then referred to the Reintegration and Aftercare Lewisham Service (ReAL), managed by the charity Blenheim, a member of the Online Centres Network.
Margaret tell us: “The team at Blenheim gave me so much support. They helped me start taking control of my own future, and one of the first steps was making sure I knew how to use a computer and the internet.”
Needing to learn the very basics of computer use and getting online, Margaret was introduced to the Learn My Way website.
Margaret tells us: “Learn My Way was absolutely fabulous! It started with the basics, it explained all the jargon, it showed me how to search, and it helped me get my first email address.
“It took me a few months but the more confident I got, the more I was able to do online,” says Margaret. “I could do my shopping online and sort out things with the doctors. It helped me with my reading and writing, and I started to feel independent and in control again.
“Without Blenheim and them getting me online with Learn My Way, I’ve no idea where I’d be now. There’s not a chance in hell that I’d be the person I am today.
“The help I was given and the new skills I’ve gained have changed my life. They’ve given me life. They’ve brought my family back together, made them proud of me. They’ve made me proud of myself. For that, I can’t say thank you enough.”
We continued to support Lloyds Digital Champions during 2016 -17, finding opportunities for volunteers to lend a hand within the Online Centres Network, through the Corporate Volunteer portal on the Online Centres Network.
The portal gives members of the Online Centres Network the opportunity to register digital skills volunteering opportunities with their organisation and this database of opportunities is shared with Lloyds Banking Group, allowing their newly trained Digital Champions the opportunity to find a centre in need near them. Hundreds of organisations have registered their interest in hosting Lloyds volunteers, with hundreds more Lloyds Digital Champions signing up to offer their support.
Lloyds Banking Group were also the main supporter of the Get Online Week campaign in 2016, ensuring the campaign could reach many more people.
Through supplying promotional material that could help organisations taking part in the event to extend their marketing activity, and sponsoring the development of an engagement product, Lloyds ensured the campaign made a real impact.
This project seeks to address these issues, by leveraging the reach of community organisations within the Online Centres Network who can tailor support based on the needs of individuals. Since the beginning of the programme, over 3,000 learners have used the Digital Garage resources, supported by almost 100 Online Centres. Good Things Foundation has also supported Google in key Digital Garage events in Port Talbot and Sheffield.
We’ve supported Online Centres funded through the Good programme with their delivery through webinar training and marketing collateral.
In Australia, we’re delivering a project together with Leep, an Australian NGO, to support people with a disability in Western Sydney to improve their digital skills, using our expertise of building and engaging digital inclusion networks, along with Leep’s experience of on-the-ground delivery in Western Sydney.
The aim of the project was to boost the digital skills and confidence of John Lewis partners across the organisation for both personal and wider social benefit. We trained Partners as Digital Champions across 27 sites and created a Digital For All Google+ community.
This was a great opportunity for us to work with the private sector to improve employees’ digital skills in a large organisation, and this is something we’d love to do a lot more of in the future.
Leading up to the launch of year two, we attended the Prince’s Countryside Forum in London, where our Chief Executive, Helen Milner OBE, gave a speech and two of the Good Things Foundation team along with one of our project partners, Destinations@Saltburn, presented a workshop and even meet with HRH Prince Charles.
In Leeds, we worked with Leeds City Council to catalyse a 100% digital movement by delivering a city-wide digital inclusion event.
The event brought together members of the public, private and community sectors to agree the principles of the movement, and to create a ‘people-led’ action plan by pledging concrete actions. This was supported by our Network Creator interactive digital mapping tool to create a ‘100% Digital Leeds’ map which local partners could sign up to.
In Sunderland, we ran an engagement event that brought partners from the public, private and third sectors together to map provision and co-create a plan for the future that they could all play a role in. We’re now working closely with the council to support the delivery of their Digital Inclusion strategy.
We’ve also worked with Tower Hamlets Council to embed digital inclusion activity across the borough, working with local community groups and organisations. We also developed a bespoke digital platform, based on Learn My Way, which was council-branded and which linked to relevant local content.
We’ll be building on this work over the coming year, developing existing relationships and building new ones, with both local and Combined authorities, to deliver cohesive, locally led digital inclusion projects.