The importance of digital inclusion is often underestimated. In this article, we explain what digital inclusion is, the importance of being able to be digitally included and what this means for residents.
It also includes an Introduction to Connor Lambert who has been recently appointed as JRHT's new Digital inclusion and Information Accessibility Officer.
What is digital inclusion?
Digital inclusion means making sure everyone can benefit from the internet and technology, regardless of their background or income.
- Digital skills: Being able to use digital devices (such as computers or smart phones and the internet). This is important, but a lack of digital skills is not necessarily the only, or the biggest, barrier people face.
- Connectivity: Access to the internet through broadband, wi-fi and mobile. People need the right infrastructure but that is only the start.
- Accessibility: Services need to be designed to meet all users’ needs, including those dependent on assistive technology to access digital services.
Over the last decade, as more organisations move their services online, it has become increasingly clear that a digital divide has begun to open.
According to Ofcom, the number of UK households who do not have access to the internet at home stood at 6% in December 2021 and in October 2021 about 2 million households were experiencing affordability issues with either their fixed broadband and/or smartphone. It is this movement of services online which is leaving people digitally excluded.
Who is more likely to be excluded from digital services and technology?
In the UK, 11.9 million people are excluded from digital services and technology. However, it is more likely to impact people who are:
- living within social housing (37%)
- people on lower incomes or are not currently employed (17% of people earning less than £20,000 never use the internet, as opposed to 2% of people earning more than £40,000)
- those with disabilities - 33% of people with registered disabilities have never used the internet. This is 54% of the total number of people who have never used the internet
- older people - over 53% of people who lack basic digital skills are aged over 65, and 69% are over 55
- young people - 6% of people who lack digital skills are between 15 and 24 years (pdf, 327 KB). Only 27% of young people who are offline are in full-time employment
Source: Stats from Government Digital Inclusion Strategy - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Why is digital inclusion important?
If you chose to access and use digital services and technology, it can have many benefits including:
- Helping to reduce loneliness by supporting and establishing relationships with friends and families
- Provide access to employment and learning opportunities
- Improve access to health care and other support services
- Reducing the cost of essentials such as energy and food
What does this mean for residents?
In this changing world, we understand the importance of being able to support residents to become digitally included if they want to. Whilst JRHT is committed to continuing to offer face to face and over the phone services, others are increasingly moving to digital only services, which is preventing people to access everything they need.
To support with this, we have recently appointed Connor Lambert as Digital Inclusion and Information Accessibility Officer.
In addition to supporting residents to become more digitally included, he will also focus on making sure services are accessible to all residents, even if they have a disability or an additional support need.
He will support residents to get digitally involved as well as making sure that residents feel safe online and thus able to get the most out of online services and resources. Connor will also work with organisations across York, Hartlepool, Leeds and Scarborough to champion digital inclusion.
Some people will already know or recognise Connor. He previously worked at the Folk Hall in New Earswick as a supervisor. In that role, he worked closely with the community, communities, and Folk Hall Team to make the Folk Hall an inclusive and welcoming space for everyone.
Connor said “I am very excited to be in this role. It is an area I have a great passion for and that I personally believe is very important for the work we do at JRHT. I really look forward to supporting JRHT residents and tenants to get digitally involved.
Connor Lambert, Digital Inclusion and Information Accessibility Officer.