A Welsh Government programme that exists to reduce digital exclusion in Wales has been extended for another three years until 2025.
Delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre in partnership with the Good Things Foundation and Swansea University, Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being (DCW) commenced in July 2019 and provides support for any organisation to help develop digital inclusion projects and to increase the digital skills and confidence of the people they work with. It is a key programme in helping to deliver the vision, aims and objectives of Welsh Government’s Digital Strategy for Wales.
DCW has already supported over 1,600 organisations across Wales, resulting in over 75,000 people benefiting from the life changing opportunities provided from being online – such as to gain and retain employment, access health services, reduce loneliness and isolation and improving their general well-being.
Impact of the programme to date:
- 76,062 citizens in Wales supported to get online or improve their digital skills and confidence.
- 15,518 people supported through digital kit loans
- 1,600 organisations in Wales supported across all sectors and types of organisations
- 4,215 staff trained to improve their digital skills and go on to support others to do so
- 2,119 volunteers recruited and placed across Wales
- 401 devices gifted to health care setting across Wales
Jocelle Lovell, Director of Inclusive Communities at the Wales Co-operative Centre said:
“We’re delighted to continue our relationship with Welsh Government in delivering digital inclusion work, something that goes back to 2005. The Digital Communities Wales programme has undergone significant change over the past 18 months, pivoting its delivery model, and responding to ever changing needs in light of the pandemic, particularly from the health and social care sector.
“With this three-year extension we have an incredible opportunity to build on the achievements of the past three years and take forward key pieces of work with Local Health Boards, Local Authorities, and pan-Wales partnerships to ensure sustainable solutions are put in place to support those individuals that are still digitally excluded.”
Last year, an exclusive training programme was launched by Digital Communities Wales to help minority ethnic communities who are digitally excluded to overcome the barriers they face to get online. Training is free for organisations participating in the programme and is an opportunity for staff to improve their digital skills, while helping others to build their own.
Jocelle Lovell added:
“Digitally excluded people are some of the heaviest users of health and social care services, so risk being left behind in the digital health revolution. They are the individuals who stand to gain the most from this programme, to help improve the quality of their lives.”
The National Survey for Wales 2021-22 April to June (Quarter 1) found that 7% of people in Wales (180,000) do not use the internet. This is down from 23% in 2012/13 but still falls short of where Wales needs to be to become a digitally inclusive nation. For instance:
There is a higher proportion of digitally excluded people in older age groups. Only 36% of people over 75 have basic digital skills, compared with 87% of 16-49 year olds.
Those with lower educational attainment: 93% of those with qualifications at degree level or above demonstrated all five digital skills compared with 51% of those with no qualifications.
People with a disability or long-term health condition: 87% of people with a disability or long-term health condition use the internet, compared with 93% of those without.
Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt said:
“I’m delighted to ensure that this vitally important funding will continue the Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being Programme. Digital inclusion at it’s very heart is about equality, equality of opportunity and the ability to improve health and wellbeing, reducing loneliness and the feeling of isolation for thousands across Wales.
We’re committed to building a stronger, greener and fairer Wales for all, continuing the Digital Communities Wales Programme is a step towards achieving that.”