The Children’s Society has been awarded £100,000 by Nominet Trust to fund a pioneering digital programme across Newcastle, Manchester, Coventry and Birmingham to increase digital skills amongst some of the UK’s most disadvantaged young people.

The Digital Reach programme will work with some of The Children’s Society’s projects and services for vulnerable young people in the Midlands and the north of England and include a digital skills training course which will aim to reduce digital exclusion by improving digital skills, increasing online safety and increasing confidence of digital technology.

The 2017 Basic Digital Skills report suggests that, despite an overall increase in the number of UK adults who have gained basic digital skills, at least 3% (300,000) of those aged 15-24 are still being left behind.

Nominet Trust’s research indicates that it is this group that is the most likely to be facing multiple forms of disadvantage. Digital Reach has been created in response to this national challenge by reimagining digital skills delivery to the hardest-to-reach young people in our society.

By harnessing the expertise of The Children’s Society and other leading UK youth organisations, which have longstanding and trusted relationships with the most disadvantaged young people, Digital Reach intends to demonstrate how these organisations are perfectly placed to steer isolated young people towards positive futures.

Young people who lack basic digital skills are facing exclusion from education and employment, fewer opportunities for social networking, and are at greater risk online.  Nominet Trust’s funding will enable The Children’s Society to give much needed digital skills to the children and young people they support such as those in the care system, refugees and migrants, those who have been abused or exploited, or who have experienced domestic violence in their families.

David Hounsell, Evidence and Impact Director at The Children’s Society said: “We are excited to be working in collaboration with Nominet and City and Guilds to offer a brand-new digital skills service to help some of the most vulnerable young people across the Midlands and North of England. Our direct work with these children tells us that many lack the basic digital skills to reach their full potential in education and employment, and many are at risk of online abuse and sexual exploitation. We look forward to the Digital Reach programme helping us to break the cycle of multiple disadvantage, which prevents too many vulnerable young people getting the skills and opportunities to flourish in a digitally-led society.”

Vicki Hearn, Director, Nominet Trust, said: “Nominet Trust is very glad to be supporting The Children’s Society and City & Guilds Group in helping 550 disadvantaged young people across the Midlands and the North of England. Through Digital Reach funding, these young people will benefit from improved confidence, enhanced technical skills, greater access to education, apprenticeship and employment opportunities, and improved awareness of online safety.  We have high hopes that the fusion of interests of these two organisations will enable their work to extend successfully beyond the pilot stage.”

To find out more about Digital Reach and the theory behind it, you can download Nominet Trust’s prospectus. You can also keep track of our progress by following The Children’s Society and #DigitalReach on Twitter.

 

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