When Enterprise Blueprints was established in 2007 there were three core values that were true for us then, and remain true for us now. One of those three values is contribution.
Over the past year, we have been supporting an excellent organisation that we feel is the perfect way for us to contribute to wider society, the perfect counterpoint to the work we do in technology strategy and architecture. The world was already rapidly digitalising before the Covid pandemic and the rate of change accelerated geometrically. This has been game-changing for the majority of businesses and there have been winners and losers.
What this rapid change has not accounted for is the digitally excluded. As products are digitised, it is easy to lose sight of those who cannot access these products as they are under-served in the digital world. This was brought into stark relief at the beginning of the lockdown when schools were shut and a significant number of pupils either did not have a suitable device to use in a home environment or did not have a data connection available to them.
In addition to the lack of devices, or lack of access, other barriers can include confidence, education, experience and many others. The challenges of digital exclusion are extensive.
Working with Good Things Foundation we selected a project that we felt was a great fit. Being digitally excluded can be a very significant barrier to accessing employment opportunities. These barriers can be even higher for ethnic minorities. Good Things had already been working with a partner on a specific programme to support ethnic minorities and how they can access employment. The project we have worked on with Good Things, with good architecture in mind, is to make that content reusable. We have supported Good Things in creating a ‘playbook’, essentially a user guide for a variety of community partners to take the learning and apply it locally in their communities.
This is a case study from the original programme that the playbook will enable right across the UK. In the initial pilot phase of the roll out, 357 people have engaged with community partners for support. This number will increase significantly once the programme is fully rolled out.
Case Study – Samay
Samay has been building his confidence and improving his digital skills after seeking help from Safety First Community Training Centre, one of Good Things Foundation’s Community Partners who are delivering the Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) project.
Before visiting Safety First, Samay was in a difficult situation. He was struggling to keep up with his Universal Credit journal entries since he had no internet access and did not know how to log on to the online system. Samay reached a crisis point when the Job Centre threatened to sanction his benefits, creating a lot of stress for Samay as he worried about his future.
Living alone and with no family members to help him, Samay did not feel able to develop his digital skills. He also suffers from short term memory loss, which means he needs 1:1 support. Thanks to the YBS project, Safety First were able to provide this.
Samay was determined to improve his digital skills and his mental well-being, so he began attending regular sessions at Safety First. He learnt how to use a computer and how to log on to his Universal Credit account to update his journal entries.
Samay can now use a computer independently, allowing him to access his Universal Credit account more easily. Samay has been able to build his confidence and digital skills, taking away a lot of the worries he had before. He says, “without the help from Safety First, I would not have known how to use a computer”.