Posted: Mon 6th Jun 2016

Council Signs Up To Digital Inclusion Charter /
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jun 6th, 2016

Neath Port Talbot Council has reinforced its commitment to helping people get online and access the benefits that the internet can offer by signing up to a Digital Inclusion Charter. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Charter was launched in February by the Welsh Government, through Digital Communities Wales. It aims to raise the profile of work being done to help more people to become digitally included. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It contains six pledges, such as ensuring that Council staff and volunteers have an opportunity to learn basic digital skills and take advantage of this, embedding digital inclusion principles into day to day activities, encouraging and supporting staff and volunteers to help other people to get online and have the confidence to develop basic digital skills, and helping other organisations to embrace digital tools. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It also requires the Council to commit support and resources for digital inclusion activities and initiatives in Wales, share best practice and activity so activities can be coordinated for maximum impact and look to build local partnerships amongst organisations that want to share ideas and co-ordinate activities with others in their area. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Digital Communities Wales found that that nearly one in five adults in Wales are not online. This could be due to a number of reasons, such as not having access to the Internet; lacking the skills to use it; not understanding why being online can be a positive thing or not trusting the internet. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Being digitally excluded can hold people back in life as they miss out on economic and social benefits the being online can offer. These include cutting household bills, finding a job or maintaining contact with distant friends and relatives. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Karen Jones, Head of Corporate Strategy and Democratic Services, Neath Port Talbot Council said: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Back in March we launched our ‘Switch’ campaign to encourage people to save time and do it online by using our online services instead of more traditional ones. This aims to make it quicker, easier and more convenient for customers to interact with us. However, we recognise there are sections of our community that have never been online and have made a commitment to tackling this in our Digital By Choice Strategy, adopted by Council in 2015. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The Charter gives us an opportunity to reinforce our work in this area and promote the importance of helping more people get online amongst partners and the wider community. It will also provide a mechanism for linking digital inclusion activities and people involved in them together, thereby providing an opportunity to make the most impact at a time of shrinking human and financial resources.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Some of the key organisations in Neath Port Talbot have already formed a working group to address digital inclusion within the county borough and have met on a number of occasions since August 2015. The group includes the Council, Coastal Housing, NPT Homes, NPTCVS, Digital Communities Wales, Communities First and others. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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