A new programme, Nobody in the Dark, is looking to help people whose position on the wrong side of the digital divide has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The initiative offers tailored, face-to-face support to digitally and financially excluded people in 20 locations across the UK.
Targeted at those living in poverty or on low incomes, Nobody in the Dark will seek to benefit people with limited digital skills who need help using digital financial tools.
Groups more likely to require assistance breaching the digital divide include disabled people and those from communities experiencing racial inequalities, with rates of digital accessibility showing wide regional variations.
Many digitally vulnerable people were cut off from vital sources of information during the pandemic, as well as incapable of accessing tools and services that could help them manage their finances, utilise medical services, or simply benefit from the kind of love and support enjoyed by those able to connect to loved ones.
Lloyds Banking Group – together with Mastercard, the Good Things Foundation and the Clean Slate Training & Employment social enterprise – is one of the parties behind the programme.
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“People using digital tools and services have a real advantage,” said Stephen Noakes, retail chief digital officer at Lloyds Banking Group. “They are more likely to build their saving reserves, find new ways to save money on services, and can more easily find and access new information.
“In terms of digital engagement, the UK has made five years’ worth of progress in just one year. It’s so important that programmes like [Nobody in the Dark] continue to work with those at risk of being left behind.”
The Nobody in the Dark rollout follows a pilot last year in which 80% of participants became more confident about staying safe online, with 57% saying they felt happier using the internet to manage money.
“The success of our 2020 pilot demonstrated not only the need for support with basic digital skills, but also the potential to help more people live better lives through digital,” said Helen Milner, CEO of the Good Things Foundation
“We’re delighted to be rolling out the programme, working with our brilliant online centres network and coalition of partners. This will help build confidence and unlock opportunities for people around the UK, connecting them to vital services, information and financial help.”
Besides the face-to-face support, a free resource hub is also available online offering help with everything from polishing digital skills to using the web post-lockdown to managing claims for universal credit.