Adults who have difficulty getting online will be able to access digital skills courses, workshops and drop-ins in their local libraries after Croydon Council was successful in securing grant funding.
Croydon’s library service has been awarded funding from Arts Council England towards the costs of a three-year programme to help communities to get comfortable with new technology using their own devices. It has been designed to empower residents, to help them keep safe online and reduce feelings of isolation.
The Connect Up Croydon Digital Inclusion programme will be particularly targeted at vulnerable adults, such as older people, disabled people, unemployed, anyone homebound and people who have English as a second language.
The programme has built in flexibility to respond to the needs of participants, with help to safely access essential services which are only available online, such as benefits, and how to get started, such as by setting up an email address or downloading an app.
The programme will be run by ClearCommunityWeb, a local social enterprise experienced at working with people who don’t have access to digital technology, or who feel overwhelmed. They will train library staff and volunteers so they can build up an ongoing programme to help deliver digital support across all Croydon’s network of libraries, which already offer free WiFi and access to the internet on library PCs.
The programme will help residents learn how to access online services and connect with family members and their wider community. Demonstrations can be given on desktop computers, mobile phones, tablets and other online platforms residents want to access.
There will be opportunities for fun and creativity with workshops and accessing the library’s online offer including free e-books and audiobooks. Participants will also be shown how to access information and book tickets for events, such as Croydon’s London Borough of Culture, reaching groups who might not have otherwise taken part.
“It’s essential that our residents have opportunities to gain digital skills so they can access online services and not feel isolated from their local communities. We are delighted to have secured funding in partnership with ClearCommunityWeb and look forward to working together to help residents get online.”
Jason Perry, Executive Mayor of Croydon
Caspar Kennerdale, Managing Director, ClearCommunityWeb said: “We are excited about deepening our programme throughout the Croydon library service as well has to help strengthen grassroots relationships with the local community.
“Exclusion from services, support and learning opportunities, digitally, can affect both the mental health and cost of living for Croydon residents. Our community-based and person-centred approach helps break down barriers, builds trust and provides access to new learning.”
ClearCommunity Web is a Get Online London partner, helping people to connect digitally. More information about the wellbeing benefits of the digital skills programme can be found on this Get Online London video.