Leeds: A digitally inclusive city for all

A mobile phone and a laptop side by side on a deskLeeds City Council are providing more technological support for residents in the city.

Leeds City Council has been trying to encourage its residents to become digitally inclusive on a variety of platforms.

According to the Online Centres Network, around 90,000 adults in Leeds still lack the basic digital skills they need to participate in today’s world.

100% Digital Leeds, formed by the council and Good Things Foundation, is a cross-sector collaboration that works to improve digital inclusion across the city and redress this imbalance.

During the lockdown, the 100% Digital Leeds initiative thrived with more people requiring online support. Sudden laws and closures of facilities meant that organisations did not have the required technology to facilitate people from home.  

Leep 1 an organisation in Leeds that supports adults with learning disabilities were forced to close immediately due to new laws and the vulnerability of its members. With no time for planning, the group didn’t have the accessories to immediately move their sessions online.

However, following discussion with 100% Digital Leeds, they were able to begin support online with the aid of the tablet lending scheme.

According to 100% Digital Leeds, “the tablet lending scheme gives partners the freedom to develop, test, and learn, with minimum risk.

“We provide organisations with free to borrow equipment and connectivity so they don’t have to commit their own resources before they have worked out what’s right for them.”

Paul Wade the volunteer co-ordinator at Leep 1 spoke on the support and provision that 100% Digital Leeds has provided in enabling the group to work remotely.

He said: “We worked alongside 100% Digital Leeds and they offered to give out tablets to all people who aren’t digitally included. They gave out tablets to all of our members.”

The provision of iPads did not only help the organisation, it also encouraged members to interact with newfound skills.

Wade added: “People didn’t have experience of been online before and didn’t know how to work an iPad, but once they had the iPad they gained a lot of skills. A lot have picked up zoom and can interact with us through that.”

Not only have members of the group benefitted from the online interaction, but volunteers have also had first-hand experience regarding the positive nature of the online sessions.

Chloe Noone recently started volunteering for Leep 1 and has really relished the opportunity to continue her involvement in supporting members online.

“I’ve found it really good and it’s been nice to see even more members than I usually would. You can tell how much they still love to be able to have that contact.

“Obviously it’s not quite the same as been able to see them and some of them aren’t as confident using the online stuff but I think it’s good because it gets them learning different things and how to use technology.”

About the Author

George Clarke
George is a Leeds Now journalist

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