OCF is delighted to welcome Olwen Lintern-Smyth as Project Manager for Getting Oxfordshire Online. Our new collaborative initiative aims to get more people online by refurbishing devices, unlocking more data and connectivity, and upskilling beneficiaries.
Olwen joins the OCF team for two days a week through January, before going full-time in February. This new Project Manager role, initially for six months, kickstarts Getting Oxfordshire Online.
• Around 34k–43k people in Oxfordshire are not online.
• Nationally, 34% of children aged 5–16 do not have access to their own device.
• COVID-19 and the new lockdown have made clear the disadvantage arising from not being online for older people, school children and working-age adults.
Our Getting Oxfordshire Online vision – Everyone in the county will be able to get online to do the things they want and need to do by the end of 2025. We will do this by mobilising local charities, businesses, public sector and individual volunteers, using our strategic programmes experience and networks to allow a phased approach to the challenge. This will involve understanding existing need, starting with secondary schools (and relevant academy trusts), and moving on to older primary, sixth form and tertiary college students. We can meet the needs of targeted groups by using our existing strategic programmes partnerships – for the homeless, early years and older people – and our existing community network, such as Citizens Advice and Good Neighbour schemes, to provide support for skills training and to build confidence.
As well as building refurbishment capacity, creating a device donations pipeline, developing affordable data solutions, and linking to training opportunities, the project will also seek funding. This includes direct national and local funding, and in-kind donations.
We will keep you up to date as the project develops, and plan to run a webinar on the subject of the digital divide in March. In the meantime, if you can support our project in any way, please contact our new Project Manager, Olwen, by email.