Our June networking meeting kicked off with Chris Adams from the City of Edinburgh Council talking about the Edinburgh Poverty Commission who met a few weeks ago. A number of the original members and Edinburgh citizens came together to review their original aims and ambitions, and to see what has been achieved since the Commission’s inception five years ago. They took time to understand the crucial work that still needs to be done. We aim to use the Poverty Network meetings as a forum to bring in views to the Commission’s ongoing work and to influence their processes.

At the meeting, Glenn Liddall from ‘People Know How’ spoke about the great work his charity is doing in helping people out of digital exclusion. Supported by a dedicated team of volunteers, their focus is on getting people who are being left behind, into the digital world. A fifth of people living in Scotland are digitally excluded because they lack the skills, confidence, data, or the technology. As we are living our lives increasingly online, it is vital to be digitally included.

‘People Know How’ support people on a daily basis through one-to-one conversations and groupwork. They manage a helpline that is Scotland-wide and funded by the Scottish Government. They problem-solve for people on anything digital. Nothing is too big or too small. They gave out approximately 3,000 devices over lockdown and, being aligned with the National Data Bank, they are also able to give out SIM cards to those in need.

Skills. Data. Device. These are the three crucial things that people need and this can be challenging when we are living in a cost of living crisis and the poverty gap is widening.

The myth around people who are not digitally literate is that they are elderly, but largest demographic at most disadvantage is the 30-39 year olds.

Older people are more cautious online because of the many stories we hear in the media about banking scams, whilst younger people are more likely to jeopardize their online security. For young people,  whilst young people carry the stigma of not having the latest version of a device.

Confidence and awareness is the hardest part of the challenge. Being online can be positive force if used safely and responsibly. It is a critical skills need today for everyone in order to

engage fully in society.

The key takeaways from our feedback session were the following. We need clearer and more transparent information on pricing. Awareness-raising around social tariffs. Are there cheaper broadband and phone packages for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and other benefits? We require resilience to work online. We need to bring down barriers for people with disabilities who may find it harder to make the leap. There is a need for more charging stations, for example, in libraries, to help with the bringing down the cost of electricity bills at home. Some schools and supermarkets and most buses now have them. See the Glenn’s full presentation here.

The Network is having a summer pause for July and will be back in August. If you want to join our Poverty Network meetings, let us know. Everyone is welcome!