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Co-operative approach to ‘digital inclusion’ in Gwynedd

By Mark Smith, Digital Content Development Officer

Gwynedd County Council (GCC) and Citizens Online will form a formidable partnership with Digital Communities Wales to tackle digital exclusion and digital transformation of services in Gwynedd.

The newly awarded Big Lottery Fund and GCC funded ‘Digital Resilience’ test and learn pilot will run for 15 months. This additional digital programme will compliment and work in partnership with the Welsh Government’s Digital Communities Wales project.

Digital Resilience, will ensure there is ongoing support through “digital champions” for people in Gwynedd to develop their digital skills and do more online. Digital champions will be based in partner organisations and supported by a full time coordinator.

The Digital Resilience project has been designed to allow the Council and other providers to transform services to digital by default. Further strategic work with partners including Digital Communities Wales will analyse resource provision and end user support need as part of the project.

Information on training, access and support will be kept up to date on an online platform so that clear signposting to training and support can be given by those delivering services.

Daniel Richards from Citizens Online has been conducting a series of exercises for Gwynedd Council, consulting with members of the public who access face to face council services. His work has included introducing them to the council website via a tablet computer, gathering information about their use of the web and exploring the main reasons why people are not conducting their business with the council online.

Daniel has also been helping to identify the council departments that are working closest with the public, and organising front line staff training sessions, in tandem with the Digital Communities Wales team, thus giving staff the confidence and the backup to encourage the public to be more digitally active. 28 front line staff have been trained to date with many more in line to receive training.

Gwynedd Council are one of four lead local authorities (Plymouth City Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and The Highland Council being the others) that are part of a “test and learn” pilot to explore “Digital Resilience”. This is an innovative approach to enhancing local digital skills whilst transforming local services. The initiative is led by Citizens Online – a national charity that the Council has been working with for some time. The approach is partnership based and including organisations such as JobCentre Plus (JCP), Housing Associations, Health, private businesses and the Third Sector, and of course, Digital Communities Wales.

“We have a solid long term working relationship with Gwynedd County Council and Citizens Online. This new project will build additional digital capacity across key partnerships”. Simon Jones, Regional Coordinator for Digital Communities Wales in Gwynedd.