Not all young people are digital natives. Those who are vulnerable, particularly those at points of transition in their life (unemployed, homeless, in care, in secure accommodation, excluded from mainstream education, seeking asylum) are most at risk of slipping through the net and falling outside the digital mainstream.
#NotWithoutMe was launched in 2015 to identify a number of new projects, each testing innovative engagement techniques, designed to improve digital inclusion and increase digital skills among vulnerable young people.
Carnegie UK funded four projects working across the UK.
- Mencap NI (Belfast & Co Fermanagh)
#WhatAboutMeNI is supporting young people with learning disabilities aged 12-26. The project involves two groups, each with 8 young people; one in Belfast and the other in rural Co Fermanagh. Young people are exploring digital technology; learning and sharing skills; and developing tools to help others learn about digital technology.
- Signal Film and Media (Barrow in Furness)
Local care providers identified care experienced young people who wanted to learn or improve their digital skills. Through script writing, digital production, filming, editing and blogging young people were supported to improve their skills and behaviours online. Carers, support workers and foster parents were also supported to develop their understanding of the importance of digital skills for independence and explore some of the challenges facing young people in care.
- The Pavilion (Barnet)
Students at The Pavilion all have unique needs, their journeys to the school are often complex and include experience of learning with anxiety, anger or ADHD in their efforts to reintegrate with mainstream schools. To support digital inclusion – and encourage empathy, understanding and support – students worked in groups and collaborated to produce a series of short films, which narrate their experiences at The Pavilion; improving digital skills whilst reflecting on their own personal journeys.
- Young Scot & The Prince’s Trust (Glasgow)
Digital Ignition was a two-phased project, the first element involved four, day long co-design sessions with young people who are unemployed. Young people outlined what they wanted to learn and how, and produced a video to document the process. Four themes emerged: how to apply for jobs online, how to use social media safely and appropriately, creating online content and accessing services. The second phase involved the development of training resources and delivery of training sessions.
Through the development and delivery of the project a number of similar themes have emerged:
- the importance of learning alongside peers and the challenge of providing a high level of individual support within a group context
- advanced skills in one digital area masking low skills in others
- challenges of recruitment and retention, particularly among groups ‘in transition’
- time required to build trusting relationships
- value placed on developing digital skills offline (face-to-face discussions and activities around behaviours, expectations and problem solving)
- challenges of measuring and evaluating development
As part of this work, the Carnegie UK Trust hosted #NotWithoutMe @ the BBC on 15th March 2017, to bring together practitioners, academics, policy makers and creative individuals to focus on the theme of digital inclusion for vulnerable young people. The raw data outputs are hosted on our #NotWithoutMe Padlet, you can also view a summary of the event on Storify or join in the conversation at #NotWithoutMe.