Helping to bridge the digital divide

In these extraordinary times, the £eithChooses Steering Group has been thinking about the ‘digital divide’ that separates those who can from those who can’t benefit from modern technology. We have put together a short paper – £eithChooses Tech Guide which provides some basic guidelines to help charities and community groups to avoid wasting valuable resources and to deliver the most useful support to their service users.

Many people in Leith are unable to access the internet and so cannot benefit from online resources due to a lack of money to buy their own computer/laptop/tablet/smartphone, or pay for internet connections. Or they are cut off by a lack of knowledge and skills, or a lack of training and support. With the schools, libraries and other public resources closed, currently, and no staff to assist, they are doubly excluded. Being on the wrong side of the ‘digital divide’ is both a result of inequality and a cause of additional inequality.

Children in this situation lose out educationally at the best of times, and especially currently while the schools are closed, with teaching and learning moving online. Even when the schools reopen in August, it is likely that a proportion of education will continue online.

Many charities and community groups in Leith are very aware of this area of need and are trying to help, in various ways.

But before buying technology for someone, it’s important to check (1) whether they could benefit from funding through one of the government or local authority schemes, and (2) that the right technology is being bought. Nobody wants to waste money or effort getting the wrong thing, or something that won’t do the job it is needed for.

If you feel it could be useful, please download and pass the paper on to any of your colleagues, staff and service users, as you feel appropriate. The paper includes easy to read information on:

  • Help with funding & Funding for education
  • What technology to get?
  • Access to the internet
  • Tablets – iPads – Cheap tablets
  • Laptops
  • Smartphones

Download here:

£eith Chooses Tech Guide V1

£eithChooses Introduction page for charities and community groups 

Please note that the information and advice contained in the paper is offered in good faith, but may not be appropriate in all circumstances. It is obviously wise to also ask for advice from others who may be familiar with the buyer/user’s needs, and to ask the supplier to confirm that the item is suitable for the particular circumstances of the purchaser. It is also wise to get a receipt from the supplier, and ideally a warranty for the equipment. £eithChooses cannot be held liable for any consequences of equipment purchase.

£eithChooses projects adapt to CO19 crisis

These are extraordinary times, and extraordinary solutions are called for.

In the weeks since lockdown, the £eithChooses Steering Group and the community projects that won £eithChooses 2020 funding have been working together to come up with alternative project designs that stay within the original themes of £eith Chooses, but that are adapted to the current emergency situation. We are happy to report that this is going well, and we are confident that public money will be well spent to the benefit of vulnerable people in Leith.

Adapting their project has been easier for some organisations than for others, just because of the original design and focus of the various projects. Several projects that focused primarily on ‘fighting hunger’ have moved over to making available/delivering food to their service users in this time of emergency (rather than pursuing their original aims of people eating together, in various settings). This was felt by the Steering Group to be entirely appropriate, as it is recognised that many people are really struggling at this difficult time.

Projects that were focused primarily on ‘fighting social isolation’ have a harder job, since ironically – and tragically – enforcing social isolation is the main strategy, globally, of fighting the spread of corona virus! Online communication (Zoom) has become a major tool of course. However, recognising that many (and often the most vulnerable) people do not have access to the technological equipment or the knowledge and skills to use online communication, some projects are setting up phone-based systems to alleviate loneliness for isolated service users, to help identify people with urgent needs and problems, and to provide advice and support.

Several of the applicants that received funding through £eith Chooses are already well launched on their adapted project. We have set a deadline date of 28th June 2020 for all projects to finalise their adaptation plans (bearing in mind that the project has to be completed by 31 March 2021, due to the terms of the funding agreement), The £eithChooses Steering Group continues to communicate regularly and to meet weekly online, so that suggestions and discussions are ongoing, and decisions about proposed adaptations can be turned around very quickly.

The Steering Group has also launched discussion about possible scenarios for 2021.

What’s happening with £eith Chooses projects?

The £eith Chooses team is of course very aware that normal service delivery and activities have been massively disrupted, for everybody. We have contacted all the community groups that won £eith Chooses grant funding awards in February 2020, to say that we would like to help in whatever way we can.

We understand that some organisations may not be able to deliver their project exactly when and how they had planned to, and that some really creative conversations will take place about possible /necessary adaptations.

We have allocated a named volunteer from the £eith Chooses Steering Group to link supportively with each project group, to join conversations about the direction groups feel they can safely take with their project, to reach the most vulnerable members of our community..
We are hoping that all groups can agree a plan before / by 28 June about how they will be able to use the funding within the spirit of the original agreement.
For example, project groups may aim to –

  • Stick pretty much to the original idea but tweak the delivery methods e.g. food going out to people rather than people coming to gatherings for food.
  • Deliver the original project idea but with a later start date (probably affecting the finish date).
  • Re-prioritise / redesign their original plan and suggest a new project idea that combats social isolation or food poverty right now, in this Covid-19 crisis.

Hopefully groups will not feel that their project cannot be rescheduled or tweaked or revamped in some way and want to return the funding.

Meanwhile, thanks and best wishes  to all groups for everything they are doing in Leith

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Awards 2020

The following groups / projects have received the largest number of votes from the Leith community, and will receive funding through £eith Chooses 2020, for projects
fighting hunger and/or loneliness. The total amount allocated is £44,624.

The figure below, per group, is the amount the group applied for

YMCA £5,000
Multicultural Family Base £5,000
NE Edinburgh Foodbank £5,000
Feniks £3,808
Citadel Youth Centre £4,990
Leith DIY Skateparks £4,500
ELREC £5,000
Projekt 42 £3,900
Pilmeny Dev. Project £3,870
Dr Bells Family Centre £3,556 (partial funding)

Congratulations! These projects will benefit the Leith community in many different ways, through the energy, work and commitment of the great project teams listed above.

Sadly, not everybody can be successful. The groups and projects whose names do not appear above did not win funding on this occasion.This is no reflection on the quality of their projects, which were all excellent, but just that, unfortunately, there is never enough money available. The £eith Chooses team is as upset about this as the project groups must be. Thank you for participating.

Any project applicants who wish private feedback on their application, votes received etc. are most welcome to email in for this information to Caroline.Lamond@edinburgh.gov.uk

There will be an open ‘Feedback’ discussion session on Tuesday 10 March, at 6:30 pm in the Leith Community Centre cafe, to review and evaluate all/any aspects of the 2020 £eith Chooses process. All welcome, and all views and contributions will be listened to and taken on board for future events. Do come along!

Thank you, Leith!

A huge ‘thank yu’ to everyone who contributed to making £eith Chooses Voting event such a great day, on Saturday. Organisers, project applicants and teams, volunteers, and of course, voters! It all came together in a lovely, buzzy community day when we could find out about all the fantastic charities and groups that work in Leith, for the benefit of our local community.
So the voted are all cast, and are now being counted. The results will be announced on Tuesday 18th February (after half-term, to make sure nobody misses it!).

Would you like to volunteer at £eith Chooses Voting Day?

Please get in touch if you are interested in helping out at the Voting Day – it is great fun!

Email: caroline.lamond@edinburgh.gov.uk

Short briefing sessions for volunteers at the £eith Chooses Voting Day will be held at 6pm on Tuesday 28  and  Thursday 30 in Leith Community Centre cafe (come to one or the other, not both)

Or ask for written briefing paper.

Volunteers should come along on Voting Day between 9:30 and 10 am

PS You can volunteer AND vote!

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£eithChooses is coming up!

Make sure YOU take part in £eith Chooses 2020! Hear about it here from past recipients of funding.

Get your applications in NOW (by 6th January) and come along and vote (1st February).