The social impact of Get Online London
Get Online London – London’s first ever digital inclusion service – has now been running for 2 successful years, and its social impact is clear to see. With over 600 London-based community organisations now a part of the movement, the initiative has been able to reach thousands of people who were struggling to afford to access the internet by getting data, devices and digital skills training to people most in need.
Get Online London is a city-wide, holistic approach. It is a partnership between Good Things Foundation, the Mayor of London and the London Office of Technology & Innovation (LOTI) with a mission to leave no Londoner behind in our increasingly digital world. So far, Get Online London has Distributed 44,627 SIM cards and 3,490 devices to people in need, and has supported 6,809 people to improve their digital skills on the free online learning platform, Learn My Way. Get Online London is made possible by the National Digital Inclusion Network, a network of community organisations working to fix the digital divide in their local communities.
With the internet being increasingly embedded into our everyday lives, digital inclusion support is absolutely crucial in ensuring that everyone can access the online world, regardless of individual circumstances. The internet connects us to loved ones, essential online services, job opportunities, health services and so much more. Being digitally excluded creates an additional barrier for people who are already likely to be at a disadvantage, through age, education, income, disability, or unemployment, further widening the social inequality gap.
That’s why Get Online London is necessary – together, we are helping people in London transform their lives through digital. Here are some success stories from people supported through Get Online London so far. These stories show the knock-on transformational impact of digital inclusion, helping people to improve their finances, health and employability – and overall quality of life.
Noel’s story – improving finances through digital
Noel visited his local Digital Inclusion Hub, Catbytes Community, because he wanted to start his own business shipping fish from Guyana. Before he sought support, Noel’s IT skills were poor and he couldn’t do basic tasks like online banking, email and using WhatsApp. Because of this, Noel started attending digital skills classes on the first day they started and has been attending every week ever since! He has been working hard to improve his digital skills, opening up a whole new world of opportunities for him.
Through improving his digital skills, Noel has been able to save money and improve his finances. Before getting support, Noel was paying for minutes to contact his family and friends that live abroad, not realising that he could do it online for free. Now, he can use WhatsApp so well that it has reduced his monthly costs. He has also learnt how to set up a direct debit phone package instead of paying for expensive monthly top-ups, and has set up customer loyalty cards on some websites to help him save money.
And Catbytes Community helped Noel fit a new keyboard into his laptop making it usable again. Through this support, Noel has learnt lots of tips and tricks to boost his finances and become more confident using the internet, meanwhile his fishing business remains a hope for the future.
Elizabeth’s story – managing health through digital
“The whole world is getting technical now and I don’t want to be left behind. The world is going paperless and I want to be able to keep up! I visited BMoneyWize to improve my digital skills and learn how to use the internet properly. Now, I can recognise search engines and all the icons on the screen.
By visiting my local Digital Inclusion Hub I have learnt how to use the internet to manage my health. Now, I can access my health file online, book appointments and order my medications. I’ve also learnt how to order my groceries online – this makes my life a lot easier. Being able to use the internet confidently and safely has had a huge impact on my life, and I want to continue learning! I am waiting to be taught how to create files, notes, labels and how to save them. Using Learn My Way has made me more active, trendy and digital. Now, armed with my new skills, I am thinking about setting up my own home run business.
I really appreciate accessing this support, many people my age don’t feel that they can continue to contribute to society but through this help I am getting equipped to do more.”
Andrew’s story – getting employed through digital
Note: Andrew’s name has been changed for anonymity
Andrew, 55, visited his local Digital Inclusion Hub, Age UK Kensington and Chelsea, because he had never used any smart technology before and only owned a pay as you go phone. He didn’t have an internet connection at his flat but was keen to get involved in the online world and didn’t know where to start. He said, “I used to think you had to be a rocket scientist to use any of this modern tech!”.
Andrew was loaned a device with data from the London Databank so that he could access Learn My Way to practise his digital skills. He wanted to learn how to watch old films online and how to use Youtube for watching videos. With help from a volunteer at the hub, he learnt how to look up old films on an internet archive and is now enjoying doing it in his own time.
Andrew now has his own home internet connection, and has been working through the topics on Learn My Way making big improvements. He was shown how to access a social tariff, something he wasn’t previously aware of, and he can now send emails on his own and make home delivery orders online. And he has become inspired to learn more about other things he can do with this new found access to the online world!
Andrew was also able to use his device to apply for a job online. After being supported to navigate the online portal and complete his right to work checks, Andrew was successful in his application and has now started his new role, something which wouldn’t have happened without access to the internet and support to get online.
Andrew says, “I have really enjoyed coming to these classes and this group. I have attended every single week. It’s been excellent and I am using my device on a daily basis. I now have the internet at home and have recently been given a smartphone, which I am being shown how to use. The skills I have learnt are very much transferable, so thank you to Age UK Kensington and Chelsea for all this help!”
How you can get involved with Get Online London
Visit the Get Online London website to find out how you can get involved with Get Online London!