In 2018 there are 4.3 million people in the UK with no basic digital skills and 11.3 million people have only limited abilities online.

Many of the people YSS (Your Support Service) supports are not able to, or confident in, using a computer. In 2018 housing applications, job roles, benefits advice and claims are all digital. Where only in exceptional circumstances the phone can be used, phone call waiting times are long and expensive, and service users very often do not have the confidence to be able to explain their situations. This often results in agitation and further risk of isolation.

YSS supports digital inclusion, and this Get Online Week, taking place from 15 – 21 October, is highlighting the great advantages that being digitally connected in 2018 can offer – accessing employment and training opportunities, managing money, cheaper goods and products, accessing public services and even improving mental health.

At YSS keyworkers encourage digital abilities, teaching service users how to turn a computer on, educating them about internet safety and cyber security, assisting with creating an email account, writing a CV, applying for housing, jobs and benefits and signposting service users to internet access. YSS staff and volunteers also act as digital champions, offering one to one sessions and supporting access to online centres.

“It has opened my eyes to a whole new world”

S was referred for support on the YSS Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme. S was motivated to gain employment, but hadn’t worked for a number of years as his life had spiralled out of control following the death of his mother at a young age. This resulted in S becoming involved in criminal activities, he became addicted to heroin and became embroiled in a world where prison seemed like the safest place for him. 

S was internally referred to BBO through the YSS Meet and Mentor project (M&M).  On his release S secured sustainable accommodation, was clean of heroin and was ready and motivated to find work.

S had very poor IT skills and had no access to the internet in his property.  The BBO Job Coach met S at the local library, where S signed up for a library card. When S first turned on the computer he was visibly anxious, as he last used a computer at school which turned out to be a negative experience for him. Very quickly S realised he was very competent in computer skills and with the support of his BBO Job Coach S devised a CV, applied for numerous job roles and researched online about interview techniques and disclosures.

S was invited to attend an interview with a local construction company and was offered a position as a labourer on one of their building sites.  Before starting the role S had to complete his CSCS training which was online.

S said: “Without the support of my BBO Job Coach and YSS keyworker, I would not be in employment now. I go to the library most days to check my emails and use my emails to keep in touch with my family.  I never thought I would be confident enough to do this and it has opened my eyes up to a whole new world.”

Click here to read more about digital inclusion at YSS, or here to find out more about Digital Champions in Worcestershire.