Lambeth will be the first London borough to pilot a unique scheme where web savvy people will help others get on line. The initiative aims to support the 26,000 people – just over 10% of Lambeth residents – who don’t use the internet.
Volunteers, known as ‘Digi-buddies’ will be recruited from the community including A-level health and social care students, jobseekers who need work experience, council staff using their permitted volunteer time as well as anyone who’s got time to spare to help their local community.
Initially, Digi-buddies will work with people in community centres) and Brixton and Streatham Library but the number and range of locations is expected to increase to include sheltered housing schemes and similar community hubs across the borough.
Cllr Paul McGlone said: “Digital exclusion is a major concern. More and more services from benefits to banking and health are on line. What’s more, potential employers expect a basic level of digital literacy. For many people, being unable to access online information about finance, welfare and work means they are missing out. For others, like elderly people, online access means they can keep in touch with friends and family, order shopping and manage other services. The Digi-buddies initiative brings local people together in a way that helps everyone.”
Digi-buddies will be looking to support those who are long-term unemployed, ex-offenders, people with learning difficulties and disabled and elderly people who are often socially isolated.
The Lambeth pilot project will run for nine months and will be managed by the Thames Reach charity. If you’re interested in becoming a Digi-buddy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 617 6070.