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What the Digital Inclusion Charter means to FLVC

From Ann Woods, Chief Officer of FLVC

Flintshire Local Voluntary Council, the umbrella body for community and voluntary activity in Flintshire, was delighted to sign the Digital Inclusion Charter earlier this year.For me, Third Sector activity is all about engagement, participation and learning and it is a natural process for us to embrace the use of technology at every opportunity, to maximise our effectiveness and the opportunities available to the individuals and groups that we support.

As part of our Commitment to the Digital Inclusion Charter we have delivered a program of IT taster sessions through Digital Communities Wales and loaned IT equipment (iPads and laptops) to various community groups. These include housing associations, family support organisations, OWL (Online Watch – Crime Prevention using IT) and North Wales Energy Advice Centre – our provision has enabled them to deliver their own in-house training and to build the confidence of participants in the use of IT in their work/volunteering/day to day lives. We also use iPads with potential volunteers during their ‘Introduction to Volunteering’ interviews – accessing Volunteering in Wales on an iPad to search volunteering opportunities, and then looking at the websites of Third Sector organisations in the company of potential volunteers has helped to ensure information is relevant and up to date, and that the individual has the knowledge and confidence to explore online themselves.

As part of the Charter’s aims, FLVC have also been working with Statutory, Third and Independent Sector colleagues to promote the use of Information Technology to find community based solutions for health and social care needs. Through the Regional Collaboration Fund’s Single Points of Access, which have been piloted in North Wales, FLVC have been delivering training on ‘Making the Most of the Third Sector’ in light of the new Social Care and Well Being Act. As part of this training, social workers, health staff, care workers, community groups and individuals have received training (via iPad and laptop sessions across North Wales) in the use of the Welsh Government’s new Dewis website. Dewis Cymru is advertised as THE place for information about well-being in Wales – having been piloted in North Wales, the programme will soon be rolled out across the whole of Wales as the central database of support services for Health and Social Care needs.

Care staff, who previously had little knowledge of the use IT, and limited knowledge of the Third Sector, noted how important it was to explore the IT provision in an informal way, and at their own pace to find possible community based solutions to the needs of the individuals in their care.

Some comments from the training:
• I wasn’t sure if this would benefit me but am very glad I attended. There needs to be different training (e.g. case studies) for health staff, in particular ward staff. Happy to consider training them… Excellent.
• Interactive case studies evoked good discussion and awareness of services.
• Very informative session. Will be of value to me as we progress patient centred care. Thank you.
• Very useful training in job role. We need to know what’s out there and Dewis website is great!
• Excellent service. Will use it in my daily work as a Social Worker. The information gives confidence to ensure that we are filling our legal obligations as governed by the new Act.
• Today’s session was really informative and just reminds you as to what other services are out there we should be tapping into. Thank you.
• The resource of Dewis will be invaluable and improves links to services.
• Good to have scenarios to look at and try Dewis.

The possibilities are endless – our role in supporting, promoting and developing Third Sector activity requires us to be in touch with and to support as many people as possible to share good practice and develop learning. Confident use of IT is a fundamental part of our work to help reduce social exclusion, share good practice and develop learning, and we will continue to explore every opportunity to promote digital inclusion.