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Drive to create more digital inclusion across Norfolk

01 August 2018

Norfolk residents will benefit from a range of opportunities to learn digital skills, thanks to a new initiative set up by Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee.

As part of the committee’s Digital Inclusion Strategy, a pilot programme has been set up in Swaffham, one of a number of areas identified in Norfolk where people are more likely to be ‘digitally excluded’.  Digital exclusion is defined as ‘people who are unable to get online, or who lack basic digital literacy skills to make the best use of opportunities of being online’.

Based at Swaffham Library, the Swaffham Connect programme offers a range of digital activities to residents looking to get online, improve their digital skills and learn about the benefits that being digitally connected can bring.

Councillor for Swaffham, Cllr Ed Colman, welcomed the initiative, saying:  “The aim of the digital inclusion strategy is to ensure that we have resources and help in place for Norfolk residents, in a location they can easily access.  I feel it’s vital we tackle issues surrounding digital inclusion, so I’m delighted that Swaffham is piloting this programme.  I believe it will bring great benefits to people of all ages within the local community and valuable learning to help develop further Digital Connect programmes across the county.”

Activities currently available in Swaffham and those planned for the future, include:

Open Library – extended access to public PCs and free WiFi, via the longer opening hours offered through the Open Library initiative.  Library members can sign up for extended access to the library outside of staffed hours, using their library card.  Since its official launch on 21 June, use of Open Library has nearly doubled.

Digital Buddy – Swaffham Library has two digital buddies offering one to one digital support to help customers with things such as setting up an email address, filling in online forms, supporting the Breckland Council customer service sessions, and help with digital files, eg photos, and online shopping.

  • Current sessions run on most Thursdays and Fridays, 2-4pm.  Booking is essential.
  • A new session started on Tuesday 24 July and will run every Tuesday 10am-12noon. Option to drop in or book.

Learn My Way – a range of basic online courses supported by computer buddies, including using devices, using the internet, online safety, finding a job, improving health, managing money and public services.  Learn My Way is available via a link on the desktop of all public PCs in the library.

Micro:bits - These micro-computer kits are available to borrow and take home to explore further.  The library plans to introduce Micro:bit jam sessions for youngsters to find out about the world of micro-computers, creative coding and how to create their own games.

Code Club – an opportunity for children and families to learn coding.  Code Club UK is a nationwide network of volunteers and educators who run free coding clubs for young people aged 9-13.  Swaffham Library is currently registered as a Code Club host and we are actively seeking a volunteer to enable us to start a Code Club at the library.

Stay Safe Online – family-friendly workshops designed to help parents and children understand how to stay safe while online.

Laptop Lending – Swaffham will be the pilot location for a planned laptop lending scheme, which will see old refurbished laptops made available for community groups and charities to borrow.

CISCO online IT courses free courses offered via the libraries in partnership with the CISCO Networking Academy.  Aimed at people with a basic understanding of IT, these online courses provide an opportunity to upskill or take their first step towards a qualification in information technology.

Festival of Tech – planned for February 2019, this family-friendly event will include workshops to help children explore creative technologies.  More information will be available from October onwards.

Norfolk County Libraries & Information Service digital offer – this will continue to offer more digitally-focused services as it develops, including supplementing the existing volunteer offer with one-to-one smartphone/tablet sessions on a range of topics, delivered by trained library staff.

Norfolk residents can find out more about digital activities available via their local libraries.

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