Research project investigates digital use by vulnerable in the region

The first research project of its kind is under way in Dumfries and Galloway to help discover digital use by vulnerable groups across the region.

Charity Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway (TSDG) is collecting data on the nature of exclusion to develop a wider understanding of what needs to change.

The project will have 33 third sector and five public sector organisations from across the region gathering lived experience data from those most impacted upon.

Fellow charities Independent Living Support and Better Lives Partnership have already completed two pilot projects for TSDG. A wider reference group is now moving forward, following detailed consultation.

The participating organisations are sourcing the data on TSDG’s behalf direct from their service users and this will continue until end of March.

Analysis of the resulting data will help TSDG widen its reach and scope for digital inclusion activities in the region. This may include the creation of digital inclusion training, events, and funding for the Third Sector, based on need identified.

An Easy Read version of the data collection has been created by local charity User and Carer Involvement.

Norma Austin Hart, TSDG Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are really excited about this groundbreaking project. We know there is a huge problem with digital exclusion in Dumfries and Galloway, but we don’t have any hard evidence to help us understand the exact nature of this challenge. We hope that this research will provide the evidence we need for more investment particularly to support and help groups that have been excluded in the past.”

Specialists the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services are functioning as an advisory research body for the project.

Other ongoing regional digital transformation strategies have been incorporated into the research, such as South of Scotland Enterprises – Regional Economic Strategy, Dumfries and Galloway Council Digital Skills Strategy and the Borderlands Digital Programme.

Caption: Emma Bowden, Digital Inclusion Officer with Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway, and Kalpana Ratnam-Roarty, CEO at User and Carer Involvement.