Let's talk about digital exclusion in Islington The staff at Help on Your Doorstep were determined to continue to deliver services to Islington residents, despite the social distancing measures introduced by the Government. Since March staff team have been delivering services online and since June staff have delivered some socially distanced activities. Read more about how we have actively supporting residents through the Coronavirus crisis here. Delivering digital services We have tried to replicate our face to face activities online. We know many people rely on our activities to maintain their health and wellbeing. For example, eight-year-old Jacob lives on the Marquess Estate and usually loves to attend our weekly Good Neighbours Scheme football sessions at the Walter Sickert Centre in Canonbury. Our online football sessions have enabled Islington residents to stay active during the social distancing measures put in place to combat COVID-19. These sessions are an opportunity to safely connect with other members of the community, supporting the wellbeing of residents. Digital exclusion Organisations have tried to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering services online. This has been difficult for those Islington residents who have struggled to get online. Feedback from staff at Help on Your Doorstep and our partner organisations indicates that there are a few key reasons that residents have experienced digital exclusion: Lack technology Lack of skills and confidence Affordability of internet provision Those who have not been able to engage in online activities have reported an increased sense of loneliness and social isolation. Many residents live alone and have really missed attending our weekly activities. Supporting Islington residents to get online Staff at Help on Your Doorstep have been working hard to support residents to overcome these barriers to getting online. You can read about how John, our Connect Team Leader has working with other organisations in Islington to help residents get access to technology. Organisations across Islington We have been working with organisations across Islington to support residents get online at this time. If you need help getting online, you can get support from the following organisations: Healthwatch Islington Yes outdoors Mer-IT Copenhagen Youth Project This video from Healthwatch Islington is a good example of how they are helping residents to become more familiar with technology. Delivering services to those not online We know that despite our work and that of other organisations in Islington, some residents still face considerable barriers to getting online. We have adapted our services to try and meet their needs. At the start of the social distancing measured we reached out to existing clients by phone to check that they were okay and to see if they needed help. Both the Connect and Social Prescribing Link Workers been making use of technology to support their work. They have made use of phone and email-based services and continue to respond to queries through the general enquires line. Gabi, member of our Connect Team, tells us how her workday has changed since lockdown as she continues to support Islington residents during lockdown. Our Good Neighbours Schemes and Connect teams have been regularly checking in with vulnerable residents by phone. This included providing one resident who was shielding and did not have a phone with a prepaid mobile so we could keep in contact with him. Val, Good Neighbours Coordinator, has adapted the way that she delivers services. She said “A lot of my 70 plus group users do not have smart phones, tablets, laptops or computers so the other online zoom activities that we are running are not something that they can join in. Having a chat line that multiple residents can use at one time has been a life line for a lot of my residents.” Read more about her phone bingo sessions here. Developing new services to meet a new needs In addition, we recruited almost 70 volunteers to our befriending project. They are supporting vulnerable and isolated people across Islington, with regular befriending calls or deliveries of essential items. Please support us to reach these residents by donating to our COVID appeal.