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Project:- Digital Communities Wales
Following two previous digital inclusion initiatives, Communities@One and Communities 2.0, the Welsh Government has recently established Digital Communities Wales. This new initiative is intended to complement a wide range of activities across the public, private and third sectors in Wales to reduce digital exclusion and help meet the goals set out in the Welsh Government’s Digital Inclusion Framework and Delivery Plan.
The focus of the new programme is to support individuals to become familiar with and able to make use of digital technologies by working through a set of partner organisations and by co-ordinating activities. The programme is intended to facilitate the co-ordination of digital inclusion activity across all sectors, to maximise its impact, and to advise on the most effective ways to engage people who are digitally excluded. It aims to help embed digital inclusion within a number of lead or ‘umbrella’ organisations and encourage training and support for organisations and community groups at all levels. It supports organisations working with digitally excluded people to produce a Digital Engagement Improvement Plan which covers key aspects of digital inclusion: strategy; engagement with clients; use of volunteers; front line staff training; and embedding digital inclusion as part of funding bids.
The Wales Co-operative Centre has been contracted to set up and run the programme from April 1st 2015 to March 31st 2017. The contract requires the Centre to build partnerships with organisations that represent and work with digitally excluded people like local authorities, Job Centre Plus, housing associations and third sector organisations and older and disabled people’s representative groups, to encourage and help people to use the latest technologies in ways which benefit them.2 It should provide help by sharing best practice in engaging with relevant individuals, make people aware of their opportunities to learn about digital technologies, support out-reach work, and collaborate with the other strands of the Welsh Government’s Digital Wales agenda to ensure effective integration.
The Centre is also expected to engage with UK-wide programmes and campaigns to maximise the benefits to Wales of UK digital inclusion activities, such as Go On UK, the UK’s Basic Digital Skills Charity, and its key partners including the BBC, Post Office, banks, telecommunications companies and key third sector organisations (e.g. Tinder Foundation, Citizens Online and RNIB). Relevant campaigns include Get Online Week, Adult Learners Week and Internet Safety day. Engagement could comprise meetings/ teleconferences; joint presentations; e-mail correspondence; social media; and discussions at the Digital Inclusion Programme Board (which many of the partners above attend). Engagement should seek to help ensure best practice is being shared, lessons are learnt, and digital activities in Wales are better coordinated to maximise impact and avoid duplication.
Over the 2-year course of the contract the Centre is expected to work with organisations to help support an additional 15,000 people each year to engage with digital technologies; provide training and support to 400 organisations per annum on how best to engage digitally excluded people; help these organisations recruit and use at least 500 volunteers each year to help people get online; and to assist 500 people per year to enhance their employability by overcoming their barriers to their effective use of ICT. The Co-operative Centre is sending quarterly reports to the Welsh Government detailing its activities and reporting feedback from beneficiaries. The latest report to Welsh Government, outlining activity over the third quarter of the first year of the programme, indicates direct engagement with over 838 organisations so far, spread across all parts of Wales, with ‘meaningful support’ provided to 400. Over 9,000 individuals are estimated to have engaged with the initiative, 183 volunteers recruited, and 507 front line staff trained.
Whilst the programme is Wales-wide, the intended focus is the more deprived areas, where there are higher rates of digital exclusion, and a set of priority groups known to be more likely to be digitally excluded: Older people (50+), Disabled people, Social housing tenants, and those of working age who are economically inactive or unemployed.
Nature of Study
The focus of this evaluation will be to draw conclusions on the emerging effects of the programme, both for operational practice and for recipients, by investigating the programme’s (i) structural form and operational practice and (ii) its effectiveness and operational efficiency.
It will thus deal with not just the performance of the programme (in terms of the activities/outputs produced), but also its efficiency (against the resources employed) in producing them, their efficacy in contributing to the intended (and unintended) outcomes (and/or impacts), and how the programme works and whether improvements could be made.
This will require an in-depth investigation of:
• how the programme has been established,
• how digitally excluded individuals are identified,
• how the programme is performing against its targets/objectives,
• the effectiveness of the support and training provided,
The client is looking for consultants to provide a report bid critically discussing how they would produce a study that achieves the following:
An evaluation study providing a clear analysis of the Digital Communities Wales initiative meeting the aims and objectives identified.
The duration of the project is 6 Months.
Consultants need to produce a 6,000 word report outlining the main objectives of the study and the methods that would be employed – following the structure provided. In addition, an ‘A3 Report’ summarising the approach to this project needs to be provided.
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