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An update on a revised Digital Communities Wales programme

DCW's Laura Phillips delivering a digital inclusion session

Towards the end 2023, Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being (DCW) was subject to budget cuts in the Welsh Government Draft Budget, which left some uncertainty around how the programme would be delivered going forward. Following a period of low-profile lobbying around the importance of funding for digital inclusion, Welsh Government successfully sourced additional money to reinstate the programme back to full value, with a revised focus and delivery plan. This plan has been agreed with considerable input from DCW funders and approval of the Digital Inclusion and Skills Programme Board. 

The focus and aim of DCW from 1 April 2024 – 30 June 2025 is to embed and mainstream digital inclusion within identified thematic areas ensuring ownership of digital inclusion.

Our thematic areas are Health, Social Care, Social Housing, Older People, Ethnic Minority Communities, and Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller Communities. We know that these areas have the greatest touch points with communities most at risk of being digitally excluded, including those with disabilities and limiting lifelong conditions. We also know that the best way to reach communities experiencing digital exclusion is to work with the trusted faces and organisations that directly support them. Our support will reflect this as we work with organisations to ensure their staff and volunteers have the necessary skills to support others.

We will also provide device loans to projects where appropriate and co-create materials and resources with organisations to support them to embed digital inclusion and design solutions which meet the needs of their staff, volunteers, and the communities they support.  

Our work will also include encouraging organisations and people to engage, promote and raise awareness for ‘Help Someone you know to get online’ map, and continued promotion of our partners Good Thing Foundation’s National Digital Inclusion Network including the databank and device bank. We will also continue our work with Communities for Work Plus and ReACT schemes in supporting the delivery of the Chromebook device loan scheme available to those who need one to help them look for, and get, a job.  

Now, more than ever, it is crucial that digital inclusion is embedded into, mainstreamed and owned by organisations and communities across Wales. Digital inclusion is not one organisation’s responsibility, and it cannot be championed by one programme alone. It requires collaboration, cooperation, and commitment by various stakeholders, working together, so we can create a digitally inclusive nation in Wales that benefits everyone and leaves no one behind.

The work of our Digital Inclusion Alliance Wales (DIAW) is critical to this collaboration and cooperation as it drives forward the digital inclusion agenda with organisations from across all sectors in Wales. Recognising this we will be working to identify an appropriate structure and funding model to allow DIAW to be self-sustaining and independent going forward.

If there is any support we can provide around these thematic areas, then do get in touch and we would be happy to discuss this further.