Digital inclusion is helping wellbeing

Digital has always been a valuable solution over the years, however, during the last year and a half, it has become a vital tool in improving the wellbeing of many. 

For workers, the ability to communicate, collaborate and conduct day-to-day activities whilst being away from the traditional workplace, has been a great relief. As well as benefits for employees, digital is proving to be a fundamental solution for the day-to-day wellbeing of many. 

A programme in Wales introduced by the government designed to reduce digital exclusion, has been extended until 2025. This is welcome to thousands of people who aim to retain employment and reduce loneliness. The programme has been giving a contribution of £6 million funding; an addition to helping reduce loneliness and retain employment, the programme also helps individuals access health services. 

The latest National Survey for Wales found that 7% of people in Wales (180,000) do not use the internet and 87% of people with a disability or long-term health condition use the internet, compared with 93% of those without. 

Those with disabilities are said to be benefitting from the programme the most. One individual said: "I'm now able to FaceTime my mum, at one point I didn't see her for 4 months. I've got into drawing in lockdown and found creative social groups where we share what we're doing."

This initiative was introduced by the Wales Co-operative Centre, in partnership with the Good Things Foundation and Swansea University, Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being began in July 2019, and has supported over 1,600 organisations across Wales, resulting in over 75,000 people benefiting from the life changing opportunities all coming from being online. 

The following highlights the impact the programme has had to date: 

  • 76,062 Welsh citizens have been supported to get online or improve their digital skills and confidence.
  • 4,215 staff have been trained to improve their digital skills and go on to support others to do so. 
  • 94% of people trained say they felt more confident helping others get online 
  • 88% of people trained said it helped them see how technology can improve their health. 

Jocelle Lovell, Director of Inclusive Communities at the Wales Co-operative Centre said: "The Digital Communities Wales programme has undergone significant change over the past 18 months, pivoting its delivery model, and responding to ever changing needs in light of the pandemic, particularly from the health and social care sector.  

"With this three-year extension we have an incredible opportunity to build on the achievements of the past three years and take forward key pieces of work with Local Health Boards, Local Authorities, and pan-Wales partnerships to ensure sustainable solutions are put in place to support those individuals that are still digitally excluded."

With the success of this programme, we could begin to see more UK businesses and charities work together to encourage digital inclusion across society.