ESF funding wins to support Digital Inclusion
The Digital 20/20 Public Sector Group brings together some of the major players in the Yorkshire and Humber region in a partnership to develop the region's stature as a growing beacon for using technology to transform public service delivery and promote digital inclusion. As part of this remit it is working with partners to develop a Digital Inclusion strategy for the region.
In the Autumn of 2008 an opportunity was identified to secure a major tranche of resources through the European Social Fund (ESF) Innovation & Transnationality Fund. Yorkshire and Humber was one of only two regions in the country which had included strands on tackling the Digital Divide in their criteria for applications, and as significant regional partnership bids were encouraged, Digital 20/20 was the prime organisation positioned to lead such bids.
Because of South Yorkshire's status as a former EU Objective 1 area, there are separate pots for the fund in that sub-region and the remainder of Yorkshire and Humber. Digital 20/20 was able to work closely with the South Yorkshire Public Sector e-Forum to compile a bid to push forward the Making IT Personal programme, which has been developing since 2006 as a comprehensive Digital Inclusion strategy for the sub-region. The bid brought together the South Yorkshire local authorities, the eight further education colleges and a number of other public and voluntary sector bodies. This partnership is focused on developing an accreditation scheme for Digital Outreach Teams who will work with digitally excluded people to help them map their way over the Digital Divide.
In the rest of the region a number of key organisations came together in a partnership which seeks to pilot innovative approaches to Digital Inclusion in two contrasting parts of the region: Crosby in the inner area of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, and Swaledale, Arkengarthdale, and Wensleydale in rural North Yorkshire. Both projects are built on existing partnerships and aim to develop the work they are already doing by adding a renewed digital dimension to their work. In Crosby, partners will be exploring how technology can address the multiple problems of a disadvantaged inner urban area. In North Yorkshire the approach is to use technology to overcome problems of isolation and remoteness from jobs and services, and to explore how a new vibrancy might be brought to the area by e-enabling local homes and organisations.
We heard in March that both bids have been successful, bringing nearly £2.5 million of extra resources to the region, matched with another £2.5 million of partners’ own resources.