Digital Inclusion is one of the buzz words that people try to lever into every press release and Corporate Social Responsibility report coming out of the telecoms arena. The reality is actually that Digital Inclusion works best at the local level, with centres which are staffed by people who understand the area and the needs of those who live there.
LS14 Trust in Leeds, cunningly located on an estate with the postcode LS14 runs a Digital Lounge. This is not just another adult education course centre, but a genuine drop in centre where locals (of which there plenty as the surrounding estate has 16,000 homes) can drop in for help and advice on getting online, or just simply filling in some online form that they are not able to do at home, due to lack of broadband, or a computer. The centre is run by an army of volunteers, some second hand computers and two women who are lying when they claim to be clueless about computers.
This Saturday (7th July) sees the fifth annual Seacroft Summer Gala, 12pm to 4pm at Seacroft Village Green. A chance for the community to enjoy games and over 50 stalls, plus for people in the area to drop by and talk to people who volunteer at the Digital Lounge.
LS14 Trust may lack the superstar (e.g. Martha Lane Fox) and media profile of the Digital Inclusion Task Force, but far too often the people who need the most help are also those the most wary of official government/local authority type schemes.