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What the Digital Communities Wales Charter means to St Paul’s Centre, Port Talbot

In February 2016 Digital Communities Wales launched a Digital Inclusion Charter for organisations in Wales which are promoting basic digital skills and helping people get online. Since then, more than 250 organisations have signed the Charter.

The Charter includes six pledges and is a simple way for organisations to show how they are helping digitally excluded people – particularly older people, people with disabilities, unemployed people, social housing tenants and families in poverty – enjoy the benefits of the internet.

One of those organisations is St. Paul’s Centre, Port Talbot. Roger Williams, who is their Community Development & Operations Manager, has told us what the Charter and digital inclusion means to them:

The Centre is committed to our volunteers and staff having access to personal development, particularly in the areas of digital skills. Staff and volunteers took advantage of the two-day training sessions provided by Google Digital Garage. The Centre runs digital sessions with Coastal Housing Group, NPT Homes and Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council (NPTCBC). Our volunteers and staff are able to access a wide range of online training opportunities that include our own Basic IT and social media skills sessions, Learn My Way, online accredited training, a drop-in social media surgery, and a Job Club with online digital support to access Universal Credit applications. We will shortly be taking part in the Digital Communities Wales Fit-Bits Project.

As an organisation we embed digital technology into our everyday activities. We have an online, cloud-based booking system that is used by staff and will be rolled out for training to volunteers shortly. We encourage paperless meetings where possible. We encourage use of our two iPads and seven tablets and allow them to be loaned, where agreed and applicable to partners. We promote digital projects and partners through our social media platforms. The limited resources we have are committed to hosting digital conferences for all organisations and always seek to be involved as a partner, rather than a direct hire venue.

We hosted a Google ‘Digital Garage’ in 2016 and successfully attracted more and more likeminded organisations, who place digital inclusion high on their agendas and have worked in partnership with Department for Work and Pensions / Job Centre Plus to host a six-day conference based on the rollout of Universal Credit. We have co-hosted sessions for social housing tenants who are struggling to embrace, or cannot afford, the technology to manage their finances online. This is now a regular group with strong support. We are also a Wi-Fi hot spot for Coastal Housing Group, where staff can log in to access customer accounts and report repairs. In other developments, we are part of the Get NPT Online Network, the Centre is a Learn My Way Training Centre, while a coding club for 9-11 year olds will commence shortly as part of Coding Club UK, which will see us working with the DVLA. The Centre has fibre optic superfast Wi-Fi internet, with high speeds, which has made us the go-to venue for various private and third sector organisations.

We are always striving to work in partnership with colleagues and their organisations around the digital agenda. We support the Benefice of Aberavon and its three churches and halls with their social media platforms, and provide training to their volunteers when required. We work in partnership with Coastal Housing Group, NPT Homes, NPTCBC, along with Sandfields and Aberavon Communities First to deliver digital inclusion activities. We are now forming a digital strategy to take the Centre forward, to work closely with more organisations and disadvantaged groups, to ensure digital support is accessible during the lead up to the full roll out of Universal Credit. We are in the planning stages of a Digital Day, as a celebration of the Google visit for later in the year.

If you would like more information on the Digital Inclusion Charter for Wales, or would like your organisation to sign it, please go to the Charter section of this website. Thank you.