Devices, data and partnership are providing a Digital Lifeline

With more than 5,000 devices distributed already, Digital Lifeline is showing how the lives of thousands of people with a learning disability can benefit from the power of technology.

If you’re familiar with Good Things Foundation – if you’ve taken a look at our website or read basically anything we’ve published in the last few years – you’ll know that our vision is a world where everyone benefits from digital

I’ve been with Good Things for a little over 11 years now, working on dozens of projects that have helped millions of people benefit from technology. But in the last few months, one project has made me more confident than ever that we really do mean everyone.

Digital Lifeline is an emergency response project delivering devices, data and digital skills support to digitally excluded people with learning disabilities. It’s funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and delivered in partnership with AbilityNet and Digital Unite. The project is also supported by Learning Disability England, the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, self-advocates and other disability and digital inclusion organisations. 

These partnerships have been absolutely critical to the success of the project. Good Things has broad, unparalleled experience of delivering digital skills support and distributing devices, and has a unique community reach through the Online Centres Network. However, the expert knowledge and lived experience that comes from being part of the learning disability community and sector were essential to the project’s success.

Conversations with these partners, including through regular meetings of the Digital Lifeline Advisory Group have been invaluable in ensuring we’ve remained laser-focused on how the project can best provide opportunities to those who will most benefit. It was vital that Digital Lifeline reached those who have been most at risk from exclusion and discrimination due to preconceptions about the opportunities adults with a learning disability can take advantage of if only given the right tools.

As it’s Learning Disability Week, it feels like a good time to celebrate the fact that, through Digital Lifeline, more than 5,500 adults with a learning disability have received a new device, free data and has already or is receiving digital skills support from one of our local partners. 

The fact that it’s Loneliness Awareness Week only makes this achievement more timely. Recent data from ONS data tells us that almost three-quarters of people with a learning disability said their wellbeing was affected by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. This really was an emergency response project.

I’d like to leave the last word to Maisie. After being cut off from her friendship group and support network while shielding during lockdown, it’s clear to see just how dramatic of a difference having the right digital access and skills can make. There’s a reason the team at Leep1, the organisation through which she received her device, call her the ‘The Amazing Maisie’.

A photo of Chris smiling

Chris Andersson

Communications and Campaigns Manager

Chris leads on high profile communications campaigns that support people to improve their digital skills and benefit from improved access to digital technology, whether through increased opportunities or by reducing social inequality. He also looks after the messaging for the Online Centres Network, making sure centres are engaged and aware of the services and support that Good Things Foundation provides to help them help their communities.