Has COVID-19 changed the landscape of digital inclusion?

Has COVID-19 changed the landscape of digital inclusion?

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Gain a better understanding of the issues around Digital inclusion

About this event

COVID-19 has laid bare the long-standing challenges of digital inequalities in the UK. The ability to get online during the pandemic has impacted nearly every area of our lives. Is it time we have Digital living minimum standards?

A survey by Lloyds Bank found that there were three times more 70-year-olds registered for online banking during the lockdown compared to 2019. The pandemic has also exposed and excavated the divide between the digital haves and have nots.

During the panel session we will explore whether having a national Digital living minimum acceptable standard can be the answer to reducing digital inclusion, we will also explore;

  • Key challenges to increasing digital inclusion
  • How do we bring different sectors and groups together to meet the challenges
  • What role for different areas of research – social science, technology, education?

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the issues around Digital inclusion
  • Have a good understanding on how the University is working with partners to develop a Digital living minimum acceptable standard


Prof. Simeon Yates – UoL Simeon is Professor of Digital Culture and Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research Environment and Postgraduate Research. He has undertaken research on the social, political and cultural impacts of digital media since 1990. Since 2004 he has mainly focused on projects that address issues of digital inclusion and exclusion. In 2017 he was seconded to the UK Government's Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to act as research lead for the Digital Culture team – helping to develop the first UK “Digital Culture” policy. He is a Member Greater Manchester City Region Mayoral Digital Inclusion Action Network, and he is an Expert Advisor to DCMS and one of the two academic leads on the DCMS/Ofcom Media Literacy Task Force. He is currently completing a project exploring citizens data literacy and has just commenced a project to explore a “Minimum Digital Living Standard” for UK households – both funded by the Nuffield Foundation. Simeon is an interdisciplinary scholar having consistently worked at the intersection of social sciences and computing – starting with his PhD in 1993 using corpus tools to explore online interaction.  His work has included leading large projects researching and developing computing solutions (in the crime and security domains), through linguistic analyses of online and digital behaviour to projects exploring the social impacts of digital systems.  His work has been funded by the ESRC, AHRC, EPSRC, EU, Charities, the Technology Sector and Government.  He has had specific funding (e.g. EPSRC) to support the development of interdisciplinary programmes. His current focus is on digital inequalities, digital and data literacies.  All his projects have included strong engagement with stakeholders from industry, policy domains and charities.

Dr. Emma Stone, Director of Evidence and Engagement, Good Things Foundation

Good Things Foundation is the UK's leading digital inclusion charity. Our mission is to fix the digital divide - for good. Working with strategic partners and community organisa-tions, we run a national digital inclusion network (free to join for community centres, libraries, local charities, adult skills training providers, and others) and we’re the charity behind the National Databank (like a foodbank for mobile connectivity data), the National Device bank and Learn My Way (an online learning platform for essential digital skills). Good Things Foundation is also active in research and advo-cacy - using evidence to influence wider change. Emma is Director of Evidence and Engagement, leading the research, advocacy and community engagement teams. This includes our role in supporting the development of a Minimum Digi-tal Living Standard for households with children (UK) and all households (Wales), and our Data Poverty Lab partnership with Nominet.

A social researcher by training, Emma has straddled re-search, policy and practice for two decades. Before joining Good Things Foundation in 2018, Emma worked at the Jo-seph Rowntree Foundation where she led the Policy and Re-search department, overseeing programmes on poverty, place, housing, ageing, disability, race equality, and communi-ties. Emma draws on this wider understanding to inform Good Things Foundation’s mission.

Chris Ashworth, Head of Social Impact at Nominet

At Nominet, Chris leads on the organisations commitment to public benefit and social impact. Through the design and implementation of a wide range of initiatives, philanthropic grants and partnerships we address some of today's most pressing social issues where technology can make a significant positive change. #techforgood including and #RESET mental health

As part of his role, he works with government on the charity digital skills group under the UK Digital Skills Partnership and with the online harms team to develop the safety tech sector in the UK. He’s a member of the GLA Digital Exclusion Task force, the Getting Oxfordshire Online steering group and a speaker on the APPG for data poverty. Chris is a Digital Poverty Alliance Ambassador. He recently co-founded Agencies For Good and the Click Zero campaign to zero rate essential online services.

Chris previously worked for Oxfam GB in several senior roles in international development, emerging markets and innovation.

Jocelle Lovell, Programme Manager at Wales Coop

At the age of 21 Jocelle ran a successful public house/restaurant, and outdoor bar business for seven years in Pembrokeshire, before relocating back to Cardiff. After seven years working in the private sector, Jocelle moved to the third sector working extensively across Wales developing and delivering programmes, to address key social issues including lack of educational attainment, housing & homelessness, employability skills, financial and digital inclusion.As Director of Inclusive Communities Jocelle leads Wales’s largest digital inclusion programme, Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Wellbeing. Jocelle is passionate about cooperative values and believes that together people can create a better, fairer, and more co-operative society.

Silke Mehrgott, Service Delivery & Improvement Manager at SCVO

Since June 2021 I have been managing the Connecting Scotland programme at SCVO, in partnership with Scottish Government. The programme was created in response to the Covid-19 emergency and has provided a lifeline to digitally excluded people during the pandemic. In less than two years, Connecting Scotland has managed to get over 60,000 households online across Scotland. This was achieved by working closely with voluntary sector organisations and local authorities to support our most vulnerable citizens with free devices, internet access and support. Previously, I was Chief Operations Officer at community development charity The ClementJames Centre, a small project punching above its weight to combat social and economic disadvantage in its West-London community.

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