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New council trial pilots Android tablets to help excluded residents get online

Islington Council will run a 12 month trial to bridge the digital divide and help residents with no internet access get online and reach vital services.

Islington’s annual residents’ survey carried out in November 2015 suggests that while around 90 per cent of residents say they have access to the internet, older people and people on working-age benefits are less likely to be connected.  
 
These findings are in line with other local and national research which suggests that the groups most likely to be at risk of digital exclusion are the over-65s, low income households, people with learning disabilities and families where English is a second language.
 
The council will work with partner organisations including Hillside Club House, which provides services for people with mental health problems, to carry out a trial aimed at reducing the digital divide. 
 
Residents who meet carefully drawn up criteria and are recommended by a trusted partner organisation will receive a free 4G tablet for the duration of the trial. 
 
They will also receive internet training from the council and be supported by a ‘digital champion’ - local volunteers who help residents get online. 
 
The tablets will provide internet access for residents who are otherwise unable to get online, making it easier to access council and other services. 
 
Increased internet access can create opportunities for residents to look for and apply for jobs online, as well as help to prevent social isolation.
 
The trial begins tomorrow, Friday 28 October. 
 
Initially, up to 30 tablets are being issued to residents, with up to 70 more to be issued in coming months. 
 
Councillor Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for finance, performance and community safety, said: “The vast majority of Islington residents are already online, but some groups have much lower levels of internet access.  This is a concern in an age when so much of what we do every day relies on being connected.
 
“Those involved in the trial will be able to make use of a range of online services, including from the council, to ensure that they don’t miss out on opportunities that will have a positive impact on their quality of life.” 
 
Matthew Pocknell, from Hillside Club House, said “This is a particularly progressive idea.
 
“Should email contact and social media usage develop, I believe we will have played a significant role in those participants’ personal development.”
 
The trial is part of Islington’s borough-wide digital inclusion programme – GO ON Islington – through which the council is working together with local businesses and voluntary sector organisations to support those residents who are at risk of missing out.
 
The success of the trial will be measured by looking at how much participants use the internet, what for, and what impact it has on their lives. 

Notes to editors

The main selection criterion for participants in the trial is vulnerability to digital exclusion. Participants are selected by LBI iwork and/or Hillside Clubhouse.