#RebootUK – test and learn

Reboot UK is a consortium test and learn project that we’re running alongside partners Mind, Homeless Link and Family Fund, as well as a handful community partners across the UK. The project aims to test innovative new models to see how they support three groups of people – families in poverty, homeless people, and people with poor mental health – to improve their health and wellbeing through digital technology.

Led by Reboot UK’s head researcher, Laurence Piercy, we spent a significant amount of time exploring the barriers and the benefits for these groups gaining basic digital skills, as well as the approaches that may work. All of this is outlined in the Literature Review, published today.


Reboot UK’s head researcher, Laurence Piercy (left), visits one of the project community partners [Image by Dora Dc Photography]

The Literature Review has provided us with some solid evidence, helping us to develop understanding and models into what we now want to deliver for Reboot UK, as well as collating findings from a huge range of external sources.

The research revealed, for example, that only once before has a home access scheme been tried on scale. Smaller ones have shown positive results, but hardly any work has been done to find out how home access schemes can be delivered on a larger scale to help those desperately in need of broadband and equipment. Learning at home or putting the skills learned in a community centre into practise in their own time is an important part of the journey for a huge number of learners. Reboot UK involves a number of community-based equipment distribution and lending schemes which will allow us to explore home access and help us to develop ideas of how a scheme can be scaled effectively.  

Another interesting finding detailed in the Literature Review is that for the groups of people we are supporting, their needs are often so complex that they require a response to learning that recognises their needs and adapts to suit them. Some people feel most comfortable learning from a friend or a neighbour, for example. Others may feel more comfortable learning in a community centre, and others may prefer to learn at home.

Once these needs have been addressed, the huge benefits of digital technology to the individual can be realised.

I want to thank Laurence for the fantastic report, and everyone else who was involved in the creation of the review, and is involved in the delivery of the project. I’m really excited about the Reboot UK project, and the impacts it will have on people that may not be reached by other initiatives, and I’m looking forward to following it’s progress. You can read the Literature Review here, and keep up-to-date with the second stage – the testing and learning – through our #RebootUK hashtag on social media.

My letter to Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

Back in December I posted a blog after my fun and informative trip to Australia. I talked about the creation of a ‘digimanifesto’ that I was involved in for Australia’s National Year of Digital Inclusion. I tweeted a pledge to go into the manifesto, which has now become a co-created plan of action – I promised to email the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Pledge for Australian Year of Digital Inclusion #godigimanifesto #digitalinclusion

Seeing as today is Australia Day, I thought it was the perfect time to send my email to Mr Turnbull about the National Year of Digital Inclusion…

‘Today is Australia Day. I’m a little behind you in time zones as I’m writing from the UK. On Australia Day 1988 I was living in Australia to deliver a bicentennial project; I was supporting a national touring exhibition showing artefacts, art, and ideas from Australia over the 200 years since the arrival of the first fleet.

My job in 1988 was to connect children around Australia using the internet, so that they could swap stories from parents and grandparents about the past, as well as share the different experiences they faced whether in public housing in Melbourne or living on a sheep station in outback Queensland. I didn’t know then that the work we were doing back in 1988 was firmly rooted in the future, and although I had a hunch that the internet was going to be significant to the world I really didn’t understand how significant.

My career has led me to work in education and the internet ever since. In the UK I lead a national digital inclusion charity, Tinder Foundation. We support local organisations – community centres, libraries, and others – with networking, capacity development, advocacy, grants, and a dedicated online platform for the learning of basic internet skills. We help over 250,000 people each year to move from no or low digital literacy, to being confident internet users who, in the 21st century, can now use the internet to change their lives.

This is not just about age. In the UK, where the demographics are very similar to Australia, the main delimiter of people’s productive use of the internet is their socioeconomic group with working age people affected as much as older people. And that affects people as individuals, as well as people who are running small businesses.

In the UK there is infrastructure investment from our Government to ensure that everyone has access to good quality broadband, however, we have more people who don’t use the internet that is running past their doors as we have people in the not-spots without the connectivity. The urban poor don’t use the web, or the majority of them use it in a simple or shallow way, although they have the infrastructure available. The 2016 internet infrastructure is about both the cables in the ground and equipping all citizens to use the web productively.

2016 is the National Year of Digital Inclusion in Australia. I think this is an incredibly positive idea. It’s being run by Infoxchange with support from Australia Post. I had the pleasure to visit Australia in October/November for a speaking tour – in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane – to help launch the National Year of Digital Inclusion (NYDI), led by Infoxchange as they kicked off a mass co-creation of a NYDI manifesto.

I pledged that I would write to you to offer my continuing support to Infoxchange, Australia Post, DTO (Digital Transformation Office), the Queensland Government, and other partners throughout this year, and to wish you a highly successful National Year of Digital Inclusion. I thought Australia Day 2016 would be a perfect time to write.

Good luck, you have so much to gain from a 100% digitally empowered nation, I’m sure the National Year of Digital Inclusion will accelerate the pace at which you achieve this.

Best wishes,

Helen Milner OBE

Chief Executive, Tinder Foundation’

I knew it! Financial and Digital Inclusion do go together

Last week I attended a sneak preview event of Lloyds Bank’s Consumer Digital Index – officially launched on Saturday – and a Lloyds/Demos roundtable event afterwards to discuss the important role of technology and digital in financial inclusion. I already knew that there was a close correlation between the two but this Digital Index backs it up, with robust figures taken from a research sample of 1 million Lloyds customers – the largest study of financial and digital capability ever conducted in the UK.

A lot people who are financially excluded are the same people who find themselves digitally excluded as well – people on a low incomes, with disabilities, and older people for example. It’s the link between digital and financial exclusion – particularly for this demographic aspect – that I’m really interested in.

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The report maps financial capability against digital capability. Ideally, we want to reach the ‘unbanked’ [Source: Consumer Digital Index 2016, Lloyds Bank]

What’s the headline?

Tinder Foundation and our network of community partners are working towards a shared vision – to help people be capable to use the internet in a way that’s purposeful and beneficial to each of them. The majority of people who don’t use the internet are on low incomes, and financial capability is clearly essential for them. For people on low incomes, saving money by being online will help them in the long run, with consumers on the lowest income making average savings of £516 per year. We know that some people don’t use the internet because they can’t afford to buy equipment or afford broadband. People financially benefit by being online, but they lack the money to invest in getting online in the first place. It’s very much a chicken and egg scenario. I don’t know the solution (yet!) but we need to come up with something to break the cycle.

The stats

Being a big stats nerd, my favourite part of the Consumer Digital Index was the numbers. It’s encouraging to see that 31.1 million adults have high digital and high financial capability, but there’s still a disappointing 13.1 million people with low financial capability and 11.1 million with low digital capability. According to the Index, this works out as 3.2 million people in the UK today who have low digital AND financial capability. That’s 3.2 million people who are missing out on all the benefits, both financial and otherwise, that the internet can bring.

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[Source: Consumer Digital Index 2016, Lloyds Bank]

The benefits

The Index says that if the financially and digitally excluded were to turn it all around and start to do more online, the benefit would be £3.7bn in savings for UK consumers. Savings are great, as are the other financial benefits that being online can bring. Being online means you can have access to debt advice and info from services like the Citizens Advice Bureau, for example.

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[Source: Consumer Digital Index 2016, Lloyds Bank]

Choose digital

I understand that not everyone wants to do things online. Nick Williams, Consumer Digital Director of Lloyds Banking Group, said they have 24 million customers and only 11 million actually do their banking online.

One element of the Index that I found to be particularly useful was ‘The four elements of financial wellbeing’. Focussing on ‘Security’ and ‘Freedom of choice’ it looks at where consumers would be if they became financially included now and where this will lead them in the future. I have included the table below. As you can see there are both present and future benefits to choosing to be financially included and it would be unwise to ignore them.

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[Source: Consumer Digital Index 2016, Lloyds Bank]

Behaviour change

When writing about the Index, a lot of the media have focussed on the amount of money people can save by being online. It’s definitely a motivator if even consumers on the lowest income can make average savings of £516 per year. Let’s go back to the ‘poverty conundrum’; the intractable challenge for people on low incomes. We need to make sure that they can afford the internet in order to make those savings. What we need to do is create a behaviour change, where people have the ability to get online and be in control of their finances now and be prepared for what they might need in the future; where people have the financial freedom now to enjoy life and be on track to meet their financial goals in the future.

This is the 21st century. Today, digital underpins almost everything. Here’s the punchline. We’re determined to reduce the number of people without basic digital skills as much as possible; that’s the day-job. We’ve got a goal to help more than one million people between now and 2020. What the sectors should be doing is working together as much as possible to help both fronts – financial and digital. Of course, you can create better financial capability without digital, but why would you? There are so many benefits for consumers when we make sure they go hand-in-hand.


The important role of libraries in a digital world

At the end of last week, I was lucky enough to find myself with not one, but three meetings about one of my favourite things – libraries. I attended the CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) MMIT AGM on Thursday to give a presentation about the role of libraries in digital citizenship, and then on Friday I visited Nottingham Libraries where I caught a glimpse of the digital inclusion work they’re delivering, as well as attended a meeting at the Arts Council. All of these visits further cemented something I’ve been talking about for quite a while – just how important the role of libraries is to communities, as well as in the digital world.

The CILIP MMIT Group (part of CILIP – the Chartered Institute of Library Professionals) are embarking on a year where they will really be focussing on digital inclusion, so I thought I’d share what my main recommendations for libraries are, following my discussions with them:  

  • Use existing resources: Become a UK online centre, explore Learn My Way – there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when we’ve already done lots of the hard work.
  • Work with partners: Invite local partners to come into the library to support users, or go out to partners to deliver – other UK online centres, health professionals, or other local groups and clubs are all people to think about.
  • Design around local needs: Think about the hooks that work for your audience group. Health always has broad appeal, but things like family history may work well for older people, or employability for young people. Take a look at the resources on Learn My Way for some tips.
  • Talk to each other: Use our Digital Libraries Hub Ning to talk to other libraries who can share some great ideas with you.
  • Read the Doing Digital Inclusion: Libraries Handbook for more inspiration.
Helen at CILIP AGM

Delivering my speech at the CILIP MMIT AGM

One real highlight of last week’s trip was my visit to Nottingham Libraries where I was kindly hosted by Sarah Coulson, Commercial Library Lead for Nottingham Libraries. We headed over to Aspley Library to see their first ever Discover Digital workshop. It’s a Basic Digital Skills course, which is one of 30 being delivered as part of the funding Nottingham Libraries received from our Libraries Digital Inclusion Fund project.


Visiting Aspley Library


As always, the best part of the visit was talking to the learners. There were ten in all, and they were all very keen to learn about how to use a tablet to access the internet. It was interesting to see how some of them found the touchscreen difficult to use, although it feels very intuitive to a frequent web user like me. I met one man who benefits from the internet already, but only through children and grandchildren, who weren’t patient enough to support him to learn but were happy to do his internet transactions for him. He’s now on the path to learning to do it himself.


Chatting to the learners and hearing about their experiences was lovely

We then made our way to Nottingham Central Library for a quick look around and to see the digital inclusion work they’re doing on a day-to-day basis, and it was interesting to see their co-location with the benefits team.

It’s not only about lending books

Both of these visits made me think a lot about libraries and their role in today’s society. Towards the end of last year I read on the BBC website that the number of libraries in the UK had fallen by 2.6% in 2014-2015, which means that 105 have closed down (or become community run) in just a year. This really struck a chord with me, as I feel very passionate about libraries and their role in communities. They’re not just places to borrow books, but are social hubs – somewhere you can take your children, a place where you can use a computer if you don’t have access to one at home, and a place where you can learn. It’s really important to me personally that Tinder Foundation do the most we possibly can for libraries to support them in their evolving role in the digital world we now live in.

What we’ve done already

We’ve already done a lot to support this – recently creating an online community for libraries to meet, network and share information in the form of our Digital Libraries Hub, which I have mentioned above and which has really taken off since it’s launch at the end of November. A lot of the original members who joined were part of our Libraries Digital Inclusion Fund Project but we’re now at almost 100 members with people joining from as far afield as Australia! It’s clear that it’s more than just Britain’s libraries who are keen to jump on board the digital inclusion rollercoaster.

Embracing digital

Almost all public libraries in England will have free public WiFi by the end of March, and many have new technology and state-of-the-art facilities, including Fab Labs and 3D printers. It’s clear that embracing digital inclusion is the way forward for modern-day libraries – and lots are already doing so. My visit to Nottingham is hopefully the first of many library visits for me in 2016 and I’m making it my goal for Tinder Foundation to work even more closely with libraries over the next year, and to help further accelerate their digital journey.

Alive and Kicking

It’s a new year; a time when fresh and fun ideas begin to take shape, and what better way to get things started than by joining the masses and going on a health kick? Exercise, smoothies, healthy eating, I’m doing it all and here at Tinder Foundation we’re beating the new year blues with a new Wellbeing Programme.

Why are we doing it?

The only thing better than a happy team is a team that’s both happy and healthy, and we’re making sure that all my colleagues are well-looked after both in body and in mind.

We’re doing so many things. Here are just a few:

  • We’re providing ample fruit every working day until the end of February, both to eat fresh or to conjure up a smoothie. How do you like those apples?
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Smoothie time

  • I’m sure you’ve heard of Mindfulness, a subject which is being talked about more and more recently. It’s all about focussing your mind and making sure your attention remains where it’s supposed to be when it begins to wander. We’ve been lucky enough to set up some sessions on this with a professional, Kevin Tobin. And, by happenstance my son bought me a colouring book for Christmas, which is now all the rage for busy adults.
  • Kevin will also be teaching us about Stress Management and Resilience to help the team remain calm, relaxed and ready for any challenge that’s thrown our way.
  • On top of this we’ll be having Tai Chi lessons and we’ll be continuing our lunchtime run club (you may have seen this on Twitter at the end of last year) with the addition of a lunchtime walking club around Sheffield City Centre too. Pretty soon we’ll be a group of Tai Chi-practising runners who know the sights of Sheffield like the back of our hand.

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There’s a lot going on here at Tinder Foundation. I’m sure the team will agree that it’s a really great place to work and it’s even better with the addition of this new programme. It’s the ideal way to start 2016 and to make sure that the whole team feel motivated, inspired and positive about the year ahead.

I spent the Christmas period with a self-imposed ban on work emails, and having a relaxed and clear mind I then allowed myself some time to think about the next few years and how we can be as impactful as possible up to 2020. More on that in another blog!

Happy New Year.

Another wonderful year

Last week was our fourth birthday. Can you believe it? Tinder Foundation is now four years old. It seems like just yesterday we were starting out – a small team with big dreams and only one government contract to our name. We’ve come so far since then and our strategy has grown and developed from a little spark into a fully blown bonfire. We now have a 50-strong team and our passion to help those most in need to develop their digital skills and improve their lives is stronger than ever.


It was Emily’s (our Research and Specialist Insight Manager) birthday too, so she did us the honours of cutting the cake.

There’s one group of people that we really couldn’t do it without and that’s our network of more than 5000 community partners. You really do make good things happen with digital technology and I couldn’t be more proud of the work you do. Thank you so much to everyone who works with us and helps us too. I’m looking forward to continuing our work with you over the next year and beyond.

As well as our birthday last week we had our annual board meeting and AGM. If you’re not familiar with our board you can take a look at them on the Tinder Foundation website. They really are a very lovely bunch of people and they’re so knowledgeable. They all come from different backgrounds and do very different jobs but they all have one thing in common: they all believe in Tinder Foundation and the work that we do. I’d like to thank the board as well for the experience and the confidence they bring to our organisation year after year.

There’s a lot of really exciting stuff in the pipeline for Tinder Foundation in 2016, including our work to improve the already wonderful Learn My Way. Our team are working really hard to develop the next generation best possible learning platform for our users and I really can’t wait to see the finished product. We played a game in the workshop section of our AGM which involved coming up with an idea to explain the internet to an alien race. The new Learn My Way is going to be so great that if we sent it up into outer space in a rocket, it would definitely be able to teach aliens about computers, the internet and all the wonderful benefits they can bring.


Again a big thank you to our network, our board and to the Tinder Foundation team for just being awesome. Keep doing what you do, because you are truly brilliant at it. Here’s to another year of fun!

Digital Revolution and a gateway for change

Last week was Tinder Foundation’s fourth annual Digital Evolution conference and a broad range of thought leaders, policy makers and community organisations came together to discuss how we can work together and continue to build and sustain our digital nation. I can’t believe the day is over again for another year but I believe it acted as a real gateway for change – an opportunity for the digital inclusion practitioners in attendance to express their opinions, share their experiences and gain new ideas on how they can contribute to our digital future.

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Our vision

In the last five years we’ve helped more than 1.7 million people. Our vision – the vision of Tinder Foundation – is a world where everyone benefits from digital. But like I said on the day, it’s not actually about digital inclusion. Those words make people think of technology – this is a revolution about people. It’s about transforming people’s lives and building a stronger economy. What we’re all doing is working together to create digital fluency; creating people with basic digital skills and internet confidence. I feel like we really put this message across on the day and I hope those in attendance feel inspired to rally the troops and power forwards.

In my afternoon speech I made it very clear that Tinder Foundation, no matter what happens, will stick to the knitting. Our vision is digital inclusion for socially excluded people. The people who are left behind are the poorest and most vulnerable in society and we want to make sure they have the skills – employability, financial literacy, or even digital health – to improve their lives. We are not going to give up. Even it it falls out of fashion we’re still going to do it. Our network of community partners are a big club with a shared vision and we’re all doing this because we want to – because we believe in it.

Revolution, not Evolution

Four years ago, when we were planning our very first conference, I wanted to call it Digital Revolution, but the team wanted to make it a bit more ‘user-friendly’. To this day I still find it appropriate. The whole point of a revolution is about working together. Many voices united is stronger and more powerful than one voice alone. If we continue to work together to create our digital nation, we can make a real and visible difference. We can’t be complacent here – we need change.

It was Tinder Foundation’s birthday on Tuesday 1 December and we’ve come so far in the last four years – but there’s still much work to be done. The Autumn Statement and Spending Review took place on the same day as our conference and it brought some welcome news; news that will help us continue our revolution – an additional £450 million has been allocated for the Government Digital Service. I can’t wait to see what will be achieved with this cash injection. I’m sure it will be a lot.

Thank you

I’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone who attended Digital Evolution: Building a digital nation, thank you to all our partners, and thank you to our network of community partners. It’s the work they do that happens on the ground that really makes a difference. Thank you to all of our speakers and panellists on the day and especially thank you to Maggie Philbin for chairing. You were wonderful.

I can’t wait to see where we are and how many people our collective efforts have helped by 2016’s conference. Please keep doing what you’re doing, because together we can make a real difference. Until next year …

Transforming people’s lives, building a stronger economy

This is my speech from Tinder Foundation’s Digital Evolution: Building a digital nation conference. 

We’re all here as we share the same passion and the same ambition. We all want everyone in the UK to have the opportunities and benefits of digital.

It wouldn’t be the Tinder Foundation conference if we didn’t launch our annual infographic with all the stats and facts you need if you’re thinking about digital inclusion. That great chasm – that cleft, an abyss – between the people who benefit from basic digital skills and those who don’t is a fitting metaphor for the divided society we live in and the wasted opportunity that we as a nation are facing.

Digital Nation infographic

This year there are a few differences – and one is the number of people lacking basic digital skills has gone up! It’s a good thing .. believe me. Thanks to our very good friends at Go On UK we now have a clear definition of the five basic digital skills and a robust measure of who’s lacking them. 12.6m people – that’s 1 in 5 adults who need support.

Of course it’s a picture of exclusion but it’s also important to have the stats on the benefits too. A report we published earlier this week shows the economic benefit to the NHS for everyone having basic digital skills is £131 million a year.

We commissioned economists CEBR to measure the net present value of everyone in the UK having basic digital skills. Digital is an amazing benefit but also a huge threat as it levels the playing field and makes the economic competition truly global.

Here’s the maths. Taking the cost of investment, the benefits to people and to government the NPV (net present value) is over £14 billion, or £2.5 bn a year from 2024. We’re facing a new industrial revolution and digital is the architect – with all jobs and all workplaces underpinned by digital.

Today is the spending review announcement we know that Cameron has already pledged £1.7 bn in broadband over the next five years, let’s see today if George Osborne will announce investment in the people and the new basic skills they need to use that infrastructure and to fuel this new, digital £2.5 bn annual productivity boost.

Let’s not talk about digital inclusion – it makes people think of technology and this is a revolution about people. It’s not digital inclusion, it’s about transforming people’s lives, and about building a stronger economy.

It’s about people like Pat and Wendy who use digital to make the NHS work better for them and to improve their health and Mike who had no hope for a job moving to multiple job offers. It’s about transforming their lives and the hundreds and thousands of people helped every day across the country by organisations – community organisations and libraries – like many of you in the room today.

Every single person having the opportunity to be part of this digital revolution, every person making our economy stronger.

The world is changing: the Philippines & digital

Last month I spent four days seeing, listening and thinking about people living in the Philippines.

I’ve found it quite hard to gather my thoughts into a coherent blog, as much of what I saw and thought seemed to contradict each other. Much was shocking and surprising, other things inspiring and familiar.

Yes, I saw abject poverty – young children filthy and weeping by the side of an over-congested road, shanty make-shift homes made of cardboard and scraps. And I heard about poverty, 37% of the population living on less than $3.10 a day. 10 million Filipinos work overseas and send money home, I met a woman on the plane leaving Cebu, she works in Dubai as a Medical Technician and had just had her annual trip home to see her children (aged 7 and 11) – I can’t imagine the pressures on a parent to have to choose to work overseas so her children have a better chance at life. The woman said she lived in one room in a flat with 3 or 4 others (Filipino couples, and families), sharing a home to maximise how much is sent back to the children and elderly parents.

But on the other hand the Philippine Government are well-organised and ambitious for their country. There is a growth in tech hubs and a vision that digital will help their emerging nation grow faster and compete. Part of their goal is more, better paid employment in-country so people don’t have to leave their families behind if they want a decent wage. The Government, with the ITU (the technology arm of the UN), and others signed a pledge for the eFilipino at the event I was at in Cebu. Their plan is that a more successful nation is going to be a digital nation.

So, why was I there?

I was there to talk about digital inclusion of course. To discuss the impact that gaining basic digital skills has on individual lives and on a society, and to see with my own eyes the excellent Tech4ED centres they are developing. That’s ED for Economic Development. They have 300 centres already and more are being established all the time. It was great going to one of their Tech4ED centres in Mandaue – it was really familiar to me. Lots of different people of all ages doing the thing that they wanted or needed – from learning English to applying for a birth certificate.

The Philippine Government are already on the same page as us. They have embedded digital literacy into the curriculum offer they have available in Tech4ED centres which target older people, unemployed people, people needing to do a few basic Government services (such as order a birth certificate), as well as ‘out of school youths’ – that’s children who don’t go to school as they need to work or move around a lot – they can graduate from high school by completing online materials.

Imagining the world in 2030, let alone in 2020, it’s hard to imagine that the Philippines won’t be there competing with us in digital, creating their own digital businesses as well as no doubt supplying other global digital needs. I met a man from Boston via Silicon Valley and Nairobi who has chosen Cebu, Philippines, as the place to establish his social business due to the combination of great need (poverty) and a pool of local digital talent.

Digital literacy in the Philippines is about making sure people don’t leave people behind as the nation accelerate to greater economic development – and they get that. They already have programmes but they think Learn My Way is better than what they currently use and so they will run a pilot to see if and how it’s useful. At the start of this week we made ph.learnmyway.com available for use in the Philippines. Facebook is massive in the Philippines.

Key stats Philippines:

  • Population: 100m+
  • 44m use the internet
  • 30m use Facebook

Key stats UK:

  • Population: 60m+
  • 53m use the internet
  • 33m use Facebook

So we’ve introduced a Facebook login to Learn My Way, so that people don’t have to register again if they don’t want to. It’s a trial, and we’ll see how it goes.

Next steps – hard work to making this happen and then learning the lessons. But this is a real partnership with talented, focussed and ambitious people. I look forward to working with them.

Digital inclusion: a very hot topic

Monday this week was a very exciting day for one of our favourite partners – Go ON UK – and for digital inclusion as a whole. Digital inclusion was on the Today Programme, and BBC 5 Live, Guardian and Telegraph, and was trending on the BBC news website and on Twitter – now that’s the sort of noise we really want for digital inclusion. Well done Go ON UK!

BBC 4 tweet

It was the day that Go ON UK unveiled some wonderful new resources to tackle issues of digital exclusion. The resources that Go ON UK have created are a great asset to the sector, and as a stats nerd I’m particularly interested in their Digital Exclusion Heatmap, which allows anyone with an interest to look at the factors most likely to contribute to digital exclusion in an area. By searching for an area, you can pull up a range of stats about broadband infrastructure, levels of internet access and basic digital skills, as well as age, education levels, health and income. Finding out this information means we can determine why people are digitally excluded and then we can really take action and do something about it.

Haydn Jones

Three of my colleagues – Vicky, James and Emily – attended the big launch event at the House of Lords, and I was really sorry I couldn’t be there. Vicky’s blogged about the event here.

As Vicky says, it’s a complex issue, with multiple barriers and factors meaning it can be extremely difficult to pinpoint whether an adult in the UK is likely to be excluded or not. However, the heatmap gives us a great starting point – helping us determine where we need to focus our attentions; so we can make sure we’re focussed on the right areas.

Go ON UK also released some new research that shows that 12.6 million people in the UK don’t have the basic digital skills they need to participate in today’s digital society. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that this number has gone up not down – and of course we’re not saying that people aren’t being helped to get the skills they need. So what’s going on with the numbers? This year the skill of “problem solving” (such as verifying information found online) has been added to the basic online skills we previously had – moving up to 5 different types of online and digital skills (from 4 last year). We’ve now got a baseline we can work with and Go ON UK will be reviewing this data annually so we can measure our collective impact.

Heat Map

I love that the Heatmap creates such a full picture of the whole of the UK, and it’s really user-friendly so can be a great resource for organisations, from local authorities through to the grassroots organisations we’re supporting in the UK online centres network.

Another part of Go ON UK’s big unveil was their new website, Go ON Local. This gives local authorities and others the most useful and relevant resources to help them tackle the digital inclusion issue head on, so it goes hand in hand with the Heatmap. It’s great to see lots of our own resources and others on there.

Rachel Neaman (CEO of Go ON UK) stood up at our conference last November and said that we needed a Heatmap of digital exclusion – this week she unveiled it. She’s a woman of her conviction… I look forward to what she’ll be saying this year.