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Mind the Digital Gap Campaign

A picture of a lady on the phone next to the campaign logo and hash tag Mind the Digital Gap

Published on 28 February 2023 04:47 PM

Campaigning for urgent action to address digital exclusion.

Age UK Croydon have joined forces with Age UK London in the Mind the Digital Gap Campaign to address the issues around digital exclusion and its impact on thousands of Londoners including Croydon residents.

We want to ensure that our Croydon residents have equal access to services and that there are straight forward and accessible ways for people who do not use the internet to be able to apply for things like Housing Benefit or Council Tax rebates and Blue Badge.

We are now working with Age UK London and ClearCommunityWeb to form a Mind the Digital Gap Campaign Champion Group. This is a group of Croydon residents who are the voice of the campaign. The residents drive the campaign forward by sharing first hand experiences of the impact of digital exclusion and are active in the discussions over the possible solutions.

Caspar Kennerdale , Managing Director ClearCommunityWeb said,

 “This is a fantastic campaign and an important piece of work. By giving a real voice to the way ‘digital first’ council services are made available to those less able to access the internet is a reminder that we must not exclude people under the banner of inclusion”.

Our goal in the Mind the Digital Gap Campaign is to call for:

  • decision makers and public service providers to not exclude those who cannot or choose not to use the internet
  • action to tackle barriers that prevent older Londoners who want to get online from doing so

During the pandemic we saw an increase in services being offered online, this was a lifeline to many people who were isolated in their homes and digital tools like online application forms became necessary for businesses to operate. This meant, during lockdown, when many older Londoners had to isolate or shield, those without internet access became more isolated and excluded from accessing services. Since the lockdown restrictions lifted, a lot of services continued online, and a number of the population remain digitally excluded.

There are some successful digital inclusion initiatives which help people who want to use the internet but can’t because they don’t have the skills or equipment. In lockdown Age UK Croydon helped our Croydon residents get online by providing repurposed laptops, helping people to connect with their family and friends or access online events and virtual groups. The South London based organisation ClearCommunityWeb offer free digital skills training and have been working with residents to increase their confidence and skills online. Many older people have embraced the opportunity to get online but a proportion of the population who don’t use the internet, either by choice or because it’s inaccessible or unaffordable to them, remain excluded from accessing services.

Henrietta East Community Engagement Manager said “During lockdown we worked with our older and most isolated Croydon residents to get them connected, with practical help, like delivering refurbished laptops. We also host the ClearCommunityWeb tech support group at Scratchley Hall. Now we want to see action from service providers and we welcome the change to make sure the people who don’t use the internet have fair access to services”.

In the Mind The Digital Gap Report published in July 2021, Age UK London spoke to older Londoners about using the internet in the pandemic and although the efforts of digital inclusion were well received, it was reported that since lockdown many older people suddenly felt that if they were not online, they were missing out and prevented from accessing the support and information they needed.

In January this year Age UK London published the Access Denied Report where they used a Freedom of Information request to find out about services available for offline residents. They found that a third (31%) of councils in London don’t offer a way to apply for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction without using the internet.

If you would like to get involved and join our Mind the Digital Gap Campaign Champion Group, be a voice in the campaign and help us drive change please contact us.

Telephone: 020 8686 0066


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