Tackling digital exclusion on a national scale to create local impact

Our mission is to provide access to appropriate, high quality services for young people in every community, so that all young people are empowered to build bright futures, whatever their background or circumstances.

When it comes to supporting young people in today’s complex, hyper-connected world; few things are more important than helping them to confidently navigate the digital world that surrounds them. Nominet Trust’s Digital Reach programme has allowed us to focus on addressing the lack of basic digital skills amongst young people. We have set-up 10 Digi-Know Hubs in youth organisations in our network, creating a bespoke digital space within each local service. Digi-Know provides training to youth workers and young Champions to deliver creative digital skills programmes through a range of dynamic, interactive resources.

Now half way through our nine month pilot programme, we’re here to share our three top learnings so far:

1.   Understanding the need

It’s vital to our work that we have a strong research and evidence base for the need we are trying to address. Reports such as the Digital Reach Prospectus and Slipping Through The Net provided a great starting point in understanding the need around digital exclusion in the UK. The Tech Partnership’s Digital Heat Map has allowed us to compare geographic need and target our approach. But most important of all, a deep consultation with our partner organisations on the ground has enabled us to hear first-hand from youth workers and young people about how they experience the concept of digital exclusion so that we can start to capture the essence of this complex issue. 

2.   Co-creating flexible resources

As a national charity, we represent a huge range of organisations, with differing infrastructures and serving young people with distinct needs. It is paramount for us, therefore, that our programme design not only be theoretically sound and evidence-based, but also inherently flexible in its approach to delivery. Co-creating our resources with partners and young people allows us to test our ideas, challenge our assumptions and learn from the users about how a programme and its resources need to work for them. Our model also includes a leadership role for young Champions to support delivery of the sessions in their Hubs, ensuring that young people are at the heart of the programme throughout.

3.   Youth Worker Training & Support

Digital exclusion for young people is a unique and relatively novel issue; it’s not yet widely spoken about in the youth sector and there are limited trainings that broach this topic for youth workers and other front line workers supporting young people. For our pilot, therefore, we have prioritised staff engagement, training and support. We have run localised training days bringing together our Digi-Know Hubs to present the latest research and explore the issue of identifying and tackling digital exclusion in their local context. Leaving their local training day, one of our Digital Champions said:‘The training was very effective in enlightening us on digital exclusion, a topic rarely openly spoken about - I hadn't realised how easily it could affect young people without many of the opportunities we take for granted, and how dramatically it could impact on their lives and opportunities.’

Over the coming months, we will be visiting each Hub to provide tailored, ongoing support and continue to share learnings across the partners.

 

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