Helping vulnerable people stay safe online

Published: 29th Oct 2018


Between September 2017 and July 2018, Good Things Foundation, TalkTalk and the Online Centres Network worked together to help vulnerable people to be confident and safe users of the internet.


  • 24 community-based organisations worked with marginalised groups of people
  • Together, Online Centres supported 1,524 people to improve their knowledge and confidence around basic online safety.

Impact for individuals

Improving Digital Skills
There was a lot of variation in outcomes, as some learners had good digital skill levels, but lacked lacked skills in online safety. Others didn’t have the basic digital skills necessary for all further online activities. Most learners were able to build skills and knowledge in at least one skill area in the Essential Digital Skills Framework.

We learnt that: 

  • Older learners can remain very resistant to transacting online, even if they develop skills in other areas 
  • In contrast, low-income families were often interested in starting - or making safer - their online transactions
  • Low-income families and people with learning disabilities can especially benefit from a focus on safe sharing of information on social media
  • All learners found it useful to learn about the differences between types of email communication.

Impact for community organisations

Outreach activity
Organisations started or expanded their outreach activity, which helped them build on their trusted reputation to reach new people, as well as being more convenient for learners. Centres also took the approach of training partner organisations’ staff to further their reach. 

Volunteer peer support
Organisations were able to benefit from learners who had already completed their digital skills training as part of the project going on to support newer learners.

Appropriate session formats 
Online Centres experimented with different training formats and used the project as an opportunity to understand which worked best for their particular purpose or learner group. They learnt that one-to-one support between learners and tutors/volunteers were important for building initial relationships with particularly nervous learners and that group discussions were great way to build a sense of common experience and create a positive atmosphere.

A greater focus on online safety 
Participating in the project made Centres aware of how many learners could benefit from further guidance on online safety.

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