Improving Digital Access

Story by Pam Grant

One of the key concerns raised at the Universal Credit Working Group meetings has been the lack of digital access many in our community face. This creates a massive problem, not just for completing job applications, but also for completing the daily diary, needed to claim.

Therefore, we (thanks to workers from Eden Project and SOAR) carried out a short mapping exercise of the digital setup across the area. This identified community spaces that provide, or could provide, local people with access to digital provision.

The mapping exercise also identified a lack of the assisted support (workers and volunteers trained in Universal Credit) for people who need it. Over the next couple of weeks we will be looking at the mapping in more detail in terms of what needs to be developed to fill the gaps and make sure that the digital infrastructure and support across the area is fit for purpose.

We had a discussion about lack of access to free Wi-Fi which will cause problems and the fact that there is no free Wi-Fi across the area. Promisingly, the Clinical Commissioning Groups has spoken about making Wi-Fi in GP surgeries available to use for local people. However, we are also looking at wider availability, and so we have set up a digital working group for the North East of the city to address the issue.

We’ll be reporting back soon.