From top: BT Cymru regional manager Geraint Strello (seated left) discusses the Change Step Digital Inclusion project on a visit to Troop Cafe in Llandudno

Fundraising and digital development manager Linzi Jones and project manager for South Wales Steve Stokoe collect the Third Sector Award for Digital Inclusion from TV’s Sian Lloyd and Matt Jones of Digital Communities Wales

BACKING FROM BT Cymru has helped Change Step promote internet use by former members of the Armed Forces – and win national recognition.

Our innovative Digital Inclusion project, which was also supported by Digital Communities Wales and the Big Lottery Fund, allowed veteran mentors to deliver online training and help ex-services personnel access support via the web.

The ambitious pilot provided equipment and hands-on tuition for veterans who might otherwise be cut off from the many benefits of internet access, and gave them access to new communities of online support.

 

Winner

As a result, Change Step Digital Inclusion was named joint winner of its category at the WCVA’s Third Sector Awards earlier this year.

Funding from BT Cymru was invested in EE 4GEE Wifi devices – each enabling easy connection for up to ten devices at one of Change Step’s ‘digital drop ins’.  Big Lottery funding supported the purchase of equipment, while DCW provided help with staff training and the loan of devices.

“Connectivity for peer mentors working in the community was one of the major challenges faced by our Digital Inclusion pilot,” fundraising and digital development manager Linzi Jones said.

“So we were delighted when BT Cymru agreed to support the project.  Their backing enabled us to deliver a reliable wireless internet connection to support our training in peoples’ homes, community cafes or drop in centres, in fields, and even during a sponsored walk on Snowdon.

“This allowed our veteran mentors to offer immediate consultations, input referrals on-the-spot, deliver effective training and tutorials, and help participants access the public services they need.”

 

Impact

A 2015 report by BT highlighted the detrimental impact digital exclusion can have on individuals, showcasing how one-in-four adults lacked basic online skills.  Parts of Wales were identified as some of the most digitally excluded areas in the UK.

The Welsh Government’s five-year target is for 95% of adults to achieve basic digital literacy skills, while some 89% of public services are already available online.

Change Step director Geraint Jones welcomed BT’s sponsorship.

“We were very grateful to have the support of BT Cymru in this important project, which has helped to improve prospects for veterans in Wales,” he said.

 

About Change Step

Change Step’s unique network of peer mentors has helped more than 1,200 veterans and their families since being launched throughout Wales in 2014.

The service has been described as a vital, best-in-class and value-for-money bridging mechanism by the Forces in Mind Trust.

 

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