A special digital grants fund has helped third sector organisations across the city continue to deliver essential services during the coronavirus pandemic.
The third sector includes voluntary, community, charity and social enterprise organisations that deliver a wide range of support services. For many that traditionally work with people face to face, the pandemic posed a real problem, as they didn’t have the technology they needed to keep providing services. However, the Leeds City Digital Team, which includes staff from the NHS and Leeds City Council, were able to co-ordinate grants of up to £1000 to help them with equipment.
Dr Alistair Walling, GP in Leeds and Chief Clinical Information Officer, for the city’s Health and Care system, said: “The third sector plays an important role in the city and their services are a lifeline to some people. That’s why the Leeds City Digital team wanted to help, as a lot of them did not have the right technology infrastructure in place and like a lot of other organisations they were caught off guard with this pandemic.
“We were able to secure £100,000 through existing pooled health and care funds, Forum Central, Leeds Community Foundation and BT as part of their full fibre contract in Leeds. This shows how strong our relationships are with the third sector and private sector and I want to thank 100% Digital Leeds Team, who helped administer and distribute the funds.
“The fund helped organisations buy equipment or data packages so they could continue to support some of our most vulnerable residents – for example, by providing mobile phones for clients or digital notebooks for staff. Although we’re coming out of lockdown a lot of organisations are still delivering their services remotely, so the positive impact of the grants will last a long time.”
Pip Goff Director at Forum Central, which represents third sector health and care organisations in Leeds, she said: “We are really proud to be able to help our member organisations continue their key services during the pandemic, especially those working with people who were most at risk, for example people with a learning disability, asylum seekers and refugees and people from gypsy and traveller communities.
“We’ve had some real positive feedback about how the fund has helped organisations during the pandemic and how the technology will continue to help during the coming months. It’s a real testament to partnership working and shows the importance of building relationships.”
Notes to editor
Leeds City Digital Team
The Leeds City Digital Team consists of staff from Leeds City Council and NHS organisations in Leeds, working together to create opportunities to integrate care via digital means.
100% Digital Leeds is a citywide digital inclusion programme led by Leeds City Council. Working with partners across public, private and third sectors, 100% Digital Leeds brings people and organisations together to increase digital inclusion across the city. For further information, please visit the following link www.digitalinclusionleeds.com
Background information about the grant
Around 100 organisations applied for the grant, including Touchstone, Shantona Women’s Centre, Leeds Bereavement Service, Leeds Mind, the Joanna Project, Age UK, Special Autism Services, Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network and many more.
Case studies – here are couple of quotes from organisations who received the grant
“The mobile phone purchased for a client literally transformed my client’s world overnight. I’d been working with a vulnerable, young woman with her small baby. This client speaks no English, has no friends, no TV, no Internet, no books, no possessions and severe mental health problems. Since lockdown, the client had been staring at four blank walls and was spiralling deeper into depression. Much of what we encourage people to do to get better is to connect with the outside world. Unfortunately, this was something my client was unable to do for safety reasons.
“Purchasing the phone with internet service therefore was critical in making those outside connections. Since this point the lives of both her and her baby have been enriched, and although there is a very long way to go, there has been a significant and positive mood increase since the phone arrived. Being able to offer this gift not only assisted their lives but made the therapeutic process much easier and more successful, enabling the client to stay engaged within the therapy. Hopefully this feedback demonstrates the significance and importance of such a grant and shows what a little money can do to better an individual’s life.”
Shantona Women’s & Family Centre
“Shantona Women’s & Family Centre are based in Harehills (LS8 postcode area). Majority of service users have had some support around digital inclusion. Additionally, staff have had internal training, self-taught and attended zoom information sessions to improve their digital inclusion. We estimate that around 100 service users have been supported to be more digitally included and that about five staff have become more digitally included.
The Chromebooks have enabled workers to continue delivering support and recording outcomes whilst working from home. Having multi-lingual staff has removed the language barrier so that services users understand how to access and navigate these platforms.”
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