Pioneering project receives funding to tackle digital exclusion in the North East
The ‘Go Digital Newcastle: Connecting Our City’ project will work with government, local charities and community groups to allow digitally isolated residents to access online services and gain digital literacy skills.
The CILIP Information Literacy Group is giving £6,000 to fund a pioneering scheme bringing together public and commercial organisations, local charities and community groups to create a digital support network for residents and businesses in Newcastle upon Tyne.
As more services become predominantly or exclusively online, those without the means or information literacy skills to access the internet are at increasing risk of isolation. Newcastle – like many cities in the UK –has a vibrant third sector, active community groups and a wealth of education providers offering free or low cost internet access and training. Yet those who need this most either aren’t aware of the benefits (and increasing necessity) of being online, don’t know that help is available, aren’t comfortable in the environments where assistance is offered, or are unwilling to ask for help.
Go Digital Newcastle: Connecting Our City is the residents’ support element of Newcastle City Council’s wider Go Digital Newcastle initiative, and provides local opportunities for those who feel digitally excluded to develop, or improve, their digital literacy; enhance their employment prospects; demystify the online world; and understand digital citizenship. This project will support people to discover that the internet can be for them, and show them that a few basic digital skills such as sending an email or accessing a bus timetable can go a long way.
“The IL Group is absolutely thrilled to be funding this outstanding bid. This project has the potential to impact positively on the lives of thousands of people in Newcastle through dedicated training and support to access and make best use of information online. We look forward to seeing the progress of Go Digital Newcastle and the benefits that it will bring.” Nancy Graham, Chair, CILIP Information Literacy Group.
The project will raise awareness of ‘digital by default’ – the government initiative to move public services online – by working in and with Newcastle’s communities, organisations and businesses, and particularly those already involved with hard to reach, vulnerable residents (Jobcentre Plus, Your Homes Newcastle, Citizens Advice Bureau). It will act as a hub for digital support services across the city, fostering personal relationships and mutual trust in the pursuit of a shared objective (raising levels of information and digital literacy) and ensuring that people in Newcastle have access to the support they need.
Our research bursary scheme was launched at LILAC in April. Funding of up to £10,000 is available to members of the IL Group for outstanding project bids that push the boundaries of information literacy practitioner research into new and interesting territory, and that have the potential to engage a wide audience.