Working with the BBC to deliver Digital Inclusion

Community Support in Action
South Wales
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In 2009, Circles Network undertook an innovative new Community Advocacy project that helps older and disabled people during the nationwide switchover from analogue to digital TV.

Working alongside the BBC with Digital Outreach Ltd and Eaga, Circles Network set up the Digital Inclusion Advocacy Project. This project involved recruiting advocates to go into the local communities and to promote the Switchover Help Scheme.  The Help Scheme enables disabled people, those who are over 75 and those who live in a care home to get support to convert their TV from analogue to digital.

The project’s aims are to ensure that those who are vulnerable, either through disability or social isolation, are not left behind by the digital switchover.  Circles Network community advocates hit the streets of Bristol, Bath and Wales to actively meet and engage with people in their local communities. 

Our advocates worked with a wide range of individuals, businesses and organisations trying to find and develop a network of Community Supporters to spread the message far and wide.  A Community Supporter is someone who works at the heart of their community and who is prepared to pass the information on and help eligible vulnerable people to contact the Help Scheme. 

Post offices, florists, community centres, cafes, pet shops, launderettes, opticians and window cleaners are just some of those who have been visited by Circles Network advocates and all of whom were prepared to spread the word about the Help Scheme. Our advocates worked hard to become deeply rooted in the community, to ensure the message about the Help Scheme reached the people who needed it most.

For many people television is their only way of receiving information about the outside world, providing a vital role in preventing total isolation. The loss of signal could be potentially detrimental to people’s wellbeing and increase the ‘digital divide’. 

Digital Outreach Ltd initially awarded Circles Network the contract for North Wales after being impressed by our previous work in local communities with people who are isolated and vulnerable.  We are privileged to have a good relationship with Digital Outreach Ltd and following our successes in North Wales, Circles Network were offered further contracts in South Wales, Bristol, Bath, Scotland, the Midlands, East Sussex, London and the North East of England. Since our involvement, we have also made significant developments with the BBC Switchover Help Scheme and are becoming increasingly involved with the Training and Quality Assurance of a wide range of work similar to our own.

This project has been a wonderful opportunity for Circles Network to really get deep into the heart of communities and to offer support to those who are most vulnerable and isolated.  We have gained a visible presence in many communities where we had not previously been known. The nature of our advocates work, often physically walking into communities, has enabled us to represent our organisation as hard working and importantly proactive in sharing our core values of inclusion.

 

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