Lambeth Council ‘s new £200,000 Digital Inclusion Fund will help voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations and schools address digital poverty, getting those who most need it connected online.
Access, delivery and connection
Covid-19 has highlighted how technology is now essential for access to, and delivery of Lambeth Council services and for residents and businesses to stay connected, learn, keep well, access help and advice, and be engaged in society.
Including the excluded
Thousands of Lambeth residents – children and young people, older people, disabled and vulnerable adults – are digitally excluded in some way:
- No computer, tablet or smartphone to get online, or only have a shared one
- No reliable internet connection, not enough data allowance, or poor Wi-Fi where they live
- Lack of IT skills, confidence, motivation, or access.
Access to services
As a local authority, Lambeth has a duty to support digitally excluded residents so they can have access to public services and participate equally in society. The Digital Inclusion fund is part of Digital Lambeth – Lambeth’s forthcoming Digital Strategy and new strategic delivery programme – going beyond ‘getting online’ and aiming to improve the infrastructure that underpins it. In the longer term, better digital inclusion will prevent some new challenges and service needs.
Support from the Cabinet and VCS
- Cllr Donatus Anyanwu, Lambeth Council Cabinet member for the Voluntary Sector, said: “This year has confirmed that helping people get connected becomes ever more essential. We’re proud to be part of this initiative to overcome digital poverty by giving grants to support projects from Lambeth’s voluntary and community organisations.”
- Gail Thompson, Founder CEO of Millennium community services CIC and Awards Panel member for Lambeth’s Digital Inclusion Fund, said “The allocation of funding by Lambeth Council for digital inclusion is an important step forward in helping to narrow social, political, and economical division. I am pleased to be part of a decision-making process that will put Lambeth on the map as an important contributor of change for one of today’s key social issues of digital non-inclusiveness. ”
Digital Inclusion Fund
The £200,000 Digital Inclusion Fund will be delivered in phases:
- Now live: £75,000 in small grants (£1,000 – £5,000 each) to VCS organisations, focusing on projects that can deliver devices (eg. laptops, tablets) and connectivity (eg. with dongles and mi-Fi) directly to adults who need it.
- Schools will be able to apply for small grants to support children and young people with digital equipment through a separate application process in the new year.
- Research and insights from this funding will help to direct the focus of future funding.
Applying for a grant
Relevant organisations – charities, not for profits, social enterprises and unincorporated community groups– can find more detail and apply for a grant. Applications will be open until and recipients will be notified before Christmas.
Digital exclusion is a large and complicated challenge. This Fund is part of a much bigger picture with services, voluntary and community sector organisations, housing providers, education providers and many others engaged in efforts to tackle it.
If you are a resident, you can help combat digital poverty by donating laptops, tablets, and mobile phones to be securely erased and redistributed:
If you are an organisation working in this space, you may be interested in being part of the Lambeth Digital Inclusion Network: this brings together more than 20 charities, housing providers, community-led initiatives and Lambeth Council working on tackling Digital Inclusion in Lambeth. The network aims to share learning, connect across initiatives, and grow to ensure that no Lambeth residents are excluded from social, educational and economic opportunities because they lack digital equipment, connectivity, skills or confidence. To join or find out more contact Chloe Bernard-Grahame, Strategy and Partnerships Manager.