Digital Rural Challenge The Libertie Project Ltd

The Gathering 2018

The Libertie Project Ltd

We are a social enterprise based in Inverness covering the Highlands and Islands, established in 2011 as a company limited by guarantee and now employing 10 members of staff, 12 volunteers and have a management committee with a minimum of 3 members. We are a living wage employer, a certified registered Supported Business, 1 of 450 registered Scottish Business Pledge Businesses, a Disability Confident Employer and a certified Family Friendly Working employer. We've been delivering innovative digital projects to disadvantaged groups in the Highlands and Islands for over 4 years and have developed partnerships with the Highland Housing Register to reach social tenants and those in temporary accommodation with a focus on improving economic prospects and reduce social isolation and we are one of the 100 Flagship centres partnered with the Good Things Foundation to deliver free digital courses to disadvantaged groups to improve economic prospects.

  • From 3rd September 2018 to 31st August 2019
  • Award: £9,945 via Call 6

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Project plan

Project description

We would like you to help fund the salary of a newly created post specific to this project which will be "Digital Rural Outreach Project" for a period of 12 months. The post will have a specific remit to improve the economic prospects of individuals with any form of housing support need in the Highlands and generate a sustainable digital legacy beyond the end of the funding period.

The project will be led by Libertie Project in partnership with:

  • support with engagement/reach from Highland Housing Register (all of social housing organisations in Highlands)
  • support needs/learning delivery from Good Things Foundation/Learn My Way courses/City & Guilds Online Basics
  • support length and style of delivery with grass roots community/peer-led groups including tenant participation groups in rural areas

The project will be supported by a clear marketing and promotion campaign, followed by a series of introductory sessions and a combination of learning activities which will include 1:1 support, small groups, regular community drop ins, job centre community hub sessions, embedded community activities, attendance at community events, peer training, workplace training for support workers and a conference in North Highlands with a specific focus on improving economic prospects for rural tenants by getting online.

The main focus for learning will be led by the individuals themselves but would typically include:
-Basic Online Skills
-Getting Confident With Your Digital Devices
-Getting Online
-Staying Safe Online
-How to Access Online/Mobile Banking
-How to Save £800 per year by Swapping Household Bill Providers
-Peer Digital Champion Training
-Universal Credit/Job Searching Essentials
-Budgeting Essentials and Money Saving Tips
-How to...User Led Problem Solving Sessions

The project will be delivered by a Digital Rural Outreach Worker, Peer Digital champions with shared lived experiences as the beneficiaries and be supported by Chief Executive of Libertie Project

Project milestones

Phase 1

Design and Develop a range of marketing and promotion campaign to support the digital learning activities, research venues and community connections, train 2 new digital champions and capacity build basic online skills to deliver the project outcomes.

Phase 2

Deliver Online Basics learning activities inclusing 500 skills questionnaires, 150 Learn My Way courses, 20 City and Guilds Assessments, 1 digital conference, weekly 1:1 and small groups courses, 12 community events and 3 work place training events.

Phase 3

Determine Impact and Evaluate the improvements in Online Basics skills and improved economic prospects through data analysis, skills questionnaires, digital action plan reviews and beneficiary feedback

Phase 4

Digital Sustainability and Legacy Plan to be meaured by setting up 12 peer community digital champions with ongoing support to become Online Tutors



Following a digital brief intervention activity at Inverness Job Centre Plus where we up-skilled 43 members of staff with the skills to register and set up a free online learning account to develop basic online skills, we then delivered a course of 8 digital life skills sessions in Inverness Job Centre Plus supporting 24 individuals to become more confident in getting online. This was done in collaboration with JCP staff via a mix of booked and drop in sessions offering one to one or small group support.

In partnership with the Highland Housing Register we delivered an information session and digital brief interventions to 23 housing support staff to deepen their understanding of practical online resources that tenants could access and details of how to access them.

We provided promotional materials and digital resource packs to the Highland Housing Register members to support their ongoing activities with tenants and the wider community. The resources provided were sufficient to support a minimum of 250 individuals.

Christmas For £25 was a digital competition we launched to see how Christmas day could be achieved for under £25 by searching for deals online, with a prize of a hamper worth £25 where all items were deals found online. The basic digital skills acquired as part of this fun activity were searching for information, staying safe online, problem solving and transacting.

Get Out And About For £10 Or Less is a social media campaign we have started where our youngest team members are tasked with going online to find a monthly activity for the staff team for under £10, organise the event and create a social media post to share on Face-book and Twitter. By embedding digital skills into everyday work activities, our staff are better equipped to support others and they have real activities they can refer to. So far we have tried Curling (where we found out they also do accessible Curling for all abilities), been to the cinema with snacks/drinks and been out for a two course meal.

Stay Safe Online is one of a range of online course we have delivered through in our capacity as a Learn My Way Online Learning Centre with The Good Things Foundation. We were so distressed to hear that a family member of a young person we had supported had been a victim of online fraud and had their pension lump sum stolen this year that we decided to make this one of our priority areas. We've spoke to several senior citizen lunch clubs, found some tech savvie grannies we want to train as peer digital champions and talked to a community beat officer about how we can work together in 2019.

Get Online What Would You Do With £800? We've travelled the length and breadth of the Highlands with this campaign, challenging people to do one thing online to save money. We like to call it the Digital Poverty Premium, it means that by not getting online, the average person is over £800 a year worse off. In Highlands however, we've discovered that it can sometimes be as much as £2200. So far we've helped 137 people save over £15,000 in 2018. We've been to Fresher's Fayres, Housing Events, Parent and Toddler Groups and Peer Led Community groups.

Digital Storytelling in Glasgow was an SCVO event we attended to share with others our approach to engaging with people and communities in the Highlands. The biggest thing we said was to stop focusing on the word DIGITAL and refocus on LIFE. By finding out what really matters to people, whether it be saving enough money to go on holiday, not worry about heating your home in winter, overcoming social isolation, keeping your grandchildren safe on their mobile phones or avoiding unnecessary student debt, these are the things that motivate the people we've met to get online and in doing so they've increased their essential digital skills.

As the funding period draws to an end we have focused on developing sustainable relationships and outcomes for the future, embedding digital into everyday activities and sharing our experience with others. We have reflected on our activities over the past year to learn from what worked well and also what didn't work well.

To this end, we've developed a good relationship with Highland Libraries with a view to supporting staff enhance their digital life skills and confidence in supporting library users as this is the most popular destination for people without internet access to get online. We've started plans to provide support sessions, training and workshops for library users.

In-house, we've trained all our new staff to be digital champions as part of our induction process. We now extend this training and support to all volunteers. We are particularly using online searches of the new Scottish devolved Security benefits as a matter of routine to check for eligibility. This resulted in a positive outcome for a member of paid staff.

We intend to restart our in-house digital cafe as demand for internet access continues to increase and more people are finding it a challenge to afford equipment or broadband. When carrying out prison focus groups, we asked about internet access in the community and found out that some individuals whose only option was to use pay as you go data, were using up-to 28% of their monthly income to achieve this.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the digital skills service with local jobcentre plus was not a success, with poor uptake and lack of referrals, so we made the decision to withdraw and focus on meeting people's needs in community settings they felt more comfortable in.

We are in our second year of attending the Freshers Fayre at University of Highlands and Islands and have spoken with 35 students about volunteering with embedded digital activities and the possibility of developing digital intern opportunities in 2020.

We have also been creating a diary of events with digital up-skilling outcomes which we will commit to take part in each future years. These include our Christmas for £25 digital challenge and Survive on one pound for one day digital challenge in October to cover Challenge Poverty Week and Get Online Week.

Our digital work is delivered in partnership with: