Whitehill & Bordon’s digital skills – a new research and support partnership

Thursday, 16 May, 2019

East Hampshire District Council is delighted to announce a partnership with digital inclusion charity Citizens Online.

Working with the ambition to help make Whitehill & Bordon a Digitally Healthy New Town, Citizens Online is looking to increase skills provision with a digital inclusion network – and is inviting any organization interested in helping to reduce digital exclusion to join.

People who lack digital skills can’t always access the services they need. They also miss out on the many benefits that digital can bring, such as feeling less alone, finding work, saving money and improving health[1].

Citizens Online is rolling out its award winning Switch approach to understand digital inclusion in Whitehill & Bordon better and make sure sufficient support is available to those who need it. The vision is to embed Digital Champions within many organisations throughout the area and at the council, to help people with digital skills. Switch is funded by East Hampshire District Council and The National Lottery Community Fund[2] as part of the One Digital[3] programme.

Any organisation that would like to be involved should get in touch with Citizens Online, contacting Operation Director Rich Denyer-Bewick on 07471 351 629 or emailing rich@citizensonline.org.uk.

Cllr Ferris Cowper, East Hampshire District Council, said: “We are a forward-looking council and we know people need help to embrace digital technology, so they can benefit financially and socially, and access our public services better. We want to work in partnership with other local organisations to ensure we reach as many of our residents who need help as possible.”

John Fisher, Chief Executive of Citizens Online, said: “We’re delighted to be working with East Hampshire District Council’s Whitehill & Bordon Team. We want to change the way local service providers and funders perceive the issue of digital inclusion - from being a ‘bolt on activity’ to a way of working that is part of business as usual."


Media Contact: Will Parsons, EHDC Communications Officer, 01730 234030

Notes for Editors

1. Contacts

2. About Citizens Online

Citizens Online are Digital inclusion experts, who have worked in over 50 communities across the UK since 2000.

“We help organisations ensure the switch to online doesn't exclude people. We’re passionate about digital inclusion. Our approach is based on detailed evidence and strong, local partnerships.”

Citizens Online are a digital inclusion charity. Founded in 2000. Pockets of digital exclusion exist everywhere and the people that are offline, are often the hardest to reach. We believe that the best way to tackle this problem is to take an evidence based approach, targeting resources where they are most needed. Alongside working together in a sustainable cross-sector partnership with a joint action plan. We call our approach 'Switch' and we are working with East Hampshire District Council to implement a Switch project in Whitehill & Bordon.

We have built successful Digital Inclusion Networks in Gwynedd and Brighton & Hove. In Gwynedd there are over 70 organisations involved and over 200 in Brighton & Hove. The networks meet quarterly and are a fantastic place to share best practice not only on digital inclusion, but also digital leadership. In Brighton & Hove many of the organisations are also linked with the 'Tech4Good' movement. Supporting each other through their digital journeys and transformation programmes. Embedded within these networks are Digital Champions. These are people confident enough with their digital skills, to help others to improve theirs. Supporting people with digital skills is never a one size fits all, so the networks ensure a range of support is available, with organisations working together to deliver provision. Also knowing where to signpost those who need help.


3. About Digital Inclusion

Digital inclusion is about ensuring the benefits of the internet and digital technologies are available to everyone. Excluded people often lack skills, confidence and motivation, along with limited or no access to equipment or an internet connection. The two main indicators of potential digital exclusion are being older and/or having low educational attainment.

Estimates for the proportion and number of people who are digitally excluded in the UK vary. The ONS annual survey[4] of Internet Users estimated in 2018 that 10% of UK Adults had either never used the internet or last used it over 3 months ago. That's around 5.5 million people. However, digital inclusion isn't only about whether people can access the internet, it’s also about their ability to use it. 20% (11.3m) of UK Adults are classified as not having all five Essential Digital Skills, the 2018 Lloyds Consumer Digital Index[5].

Having essential digital skills means being able to participate safely and effectively online; the five basic digital skills are: managing information; communicating; transacting; creating; problem solving. This is the case for both individuals and organisations, even if the usage is somewhat different[6].

4. About One Digital

One Digital is a collaboration of five distinct organisations (Age UK, Citizens Online, Clarion Futures (Clarion Housing Group’s charitable foundation), Digital Unite and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) working together toward a shared aim of helping people of all ages to access the benefits of digital technology.

Since the launch of the first phase in January 2016, the programme has successfully helped more than 11,000 people across the UK to get online, with many people saying the confidence and skills they gained had been “life changing”, from support for job hunting to social engagement. Additionally over 1,000 Digital Champions have been recruited and trained, providing personal support to those seeking to get online, which in turn has improved their own confidence and digital expertise.

The National Lottery Community Fund has since awarded One Digital further funding over three years to scale up proven approaches, transform digital skills delivery and ensure sustainability.  One Digital now aims to reach 40,000 people through 4,000 Digital Champions, improving the digital skills of those most in need. Learning outcomes from the project's' Community of Practice will be made available to support good practice in digital inclusion.



[1] Valuing Digital Inclusion – Just Economics, 2014: https://www.justeconomics.co.uk/digital-inclusion/the-value-of-digital-inclusion

[2] National Lottery Community Fund: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/

[3] One Digital Programme: https://onedigitaluk.com/

[4] https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/itandinternetindustry/bulletins/internetusers/2018

[5] https://www.lloydsbank.com/assets/media/pdfs/banking_with_us/whats-happening/LB-Consumer-Digital-Index-2018-Report.pdf

[6] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/essential-digital-skills-framework