Please note; The Reach Online Project has now closed. This content remains here for information only.
Reach Online is a partnership between Gwalia and Caer Las, funded by Communities 2.0 and the European Regional Development Fund.
Reach Online is about working with the most vulnerable and excluded individuals in South Wales.
The project will embed Digital Inclusion activities within the partner organisations through a process of training staff, utilising current resources and informing future ICT strategy. The project is being delivered in Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend.
The initiative has been developed by its partners in response to the rising demands of socially excluded individuals prevented from having to access services on-line in a “digital by default” era. With the recent Welfare Benefits reform that has been implemented by the UK Government, all agencies across South Wales have seen an increase in demand for their services. A greater number of clients are presenting with homelessness, debt and benefits issues than ever before. Benefits such as the new Universal Credit, which is due to be implemented later this year, are “digital by default” meaning many service users will have to access their benefits on-line in the first instance.
These individuals include those homeless or at risk of homelessness, ex-offenders, substance misusers, people suffering enduring mental health issues and people with work limiting health conditions. The initiative will provide a framework that will enable the long term delivery of digital inclusion activities to this group.
The project will delivered through three distinct elements:-
- Training of front-line staff in digital inclusion awareness and skills
- Direct delivery to beneficiaries at outreach centres.
- Recruiting and placing volunteers to support project delivery
These elements will be achieved through the employment of the Reach On-line Digital Inclusion Co-ordinator, funded by Communities 2.0.
Training Front-line Staff
The project will look to train client-facing support workers through a programme that recruits a digital champion from each team and uses courses such as train the trainer to up-skill these champions. Other support workers will then be trained with follow-up support from the Digital Champions through peer mentoring and local workshops/events.
Front-line staff will be trained to support a cross section of beneficiaries to get on-line using a “5 step” template.
The two partner organisations have committed their staff for two days’ training and the model will be replicated within other potential partner organisations.
Front-line staff in the partner organisations already benefit from existing relationships built on mutual trust. They share an understanding of clients with complex needs and barriers to support. The client group is difficult to engage and wary of entering new services; they typically have chaotic lifestyles and as a result can be hard to manage.
Direct Delivery to beneficiaries
A programme of informal digital inclusion courses will be delivered from a network of Outreach centres to provide more in-depth support to services users. These centres already exist and offer a range of services and activities to vulnerable and hard to reach clients. The courses will enable beneficiaries to learn new skills, delivering skills such as:
- Access to benefits
- Housing support
- Employment opportunities
- Managing finances
- Literacy and numeracy
- Advice services
- Enhanced peer networks
- Improved social networks
- Re-engaging with family
This direct delivery will be delivered by a combination of the Digital Inclusion Co-ordinator, front-line staff and project volunteers
This element will identify support and signpost community volunteers to work within the outreach centres to address gaps in existing provision and to deliver digital inclusion provision. They will support and compliment delivery in the outreach centres. The volunteers will be known as digital champions and will be recruited from all initiative partners. The volunteers will receive structured training delivered by Communities 2.0 and the Digital Inclusion Co-ordinator. The volunteer programme will be developed and managed by the DI Co-ordinator employed by the initiative.
The partnership is made up of Caer Las and Gwalia, the organisations have strong links in management. This project will serve to further galvanise these links and build relationships that will benefit clients from both organisations.
Caer Las and Gwalia have committed to provide in-kind contributions to the project, including staff time, equipment, training and facilities. The organisations will agree to take the same approach as put forward in the previous section. The direct delivery aspect of the project will take in all service users regardless of which organisation they are from, or which front-line staff members are delivering during that session.
Gwalia is committing to a digital inclusion strategy which includes rolling-out computer access to all projects and schemes.
The initiative will work with 700 beneficiaries and at least another 150 indirect beneficiaries. It will train 80 front-line staff and recruit 20 volunteers.