Transformation through technology

Power Up funded project Digiparent, transforms Charlotte’s life in lockdown thanks to new laptop.

Power Up funded project Digiparent, transforms Charlotte’s life in lockdown thanks to new laptop.

One Parent Families Scotland distributes data enabled devices and offers online support, to help single parents develop digital skills for the workplace – aiming to narrow the digital divide which Covid-19 has only exasperated. To complement this, activities and peer support opportunities are provided to reduce isolation, build networks and improve confidence and wellbeing.

Looking after her four year old son and working part-time, Charlotte didn’t feel she had a great support network, and was keen to meet other single parents.

She found One Parent Families Scotland through a Facebook post, and decided to take her son along to a beach day and woodland walk. She and her son loved the activities, and the opportunity to meet other families in similar situations and make new friends.

After a positive introduction to One Parent Families, Charlotte took up the offer to attend a mental health and wellbeing group – like many other single parents she was feeling quite isolated. The group, at her local community centre, enabled her to grow her support circle and learn about self-care techniques to improve her own wellbeing.

Things were looking up for Charlotte until, when lockdown was imposed in April 2020, she was let go from her retail job. Forced to support herself and her son on Universal Credit, Charlotte became frustrated – she was keen to work and had lots to offer, but there just weren’t any jobs coming up.

To add to the challenges of lockdown, Charlotte found she was at a distinct disadvantage because she didn’t have a computer – she hadn’t been able to afford one for years. That meant she had to try and do all the admin related to her benefits and job applications, as well as access the support networks she had come to depend on, through her phone.

After speaking to her One Parent Families Scotland keyworker, they were able to refer her to the Power Up initiative funded Digiparent project, and as a result she received a laptop which has transformed her life in lockdown. She says: “It’s made a huge difference! Before, trying to do everything on my phone was really difficult.”

Having the laptop has opened up further opportunities for Charlotte, and she’s recently started an online Employability and Digital Skills course run by One Parent Families Scotland. Even after just a few sessions, Charlotte is already feeling the benefits, saying: ‘I’ve learned lots of things about Microsoft Word and re-typed my CV with the help of my keyworker. The one-to-one sessions make a big difference if you are not feeling confident to speak in the group or have more questions.’

Having originally come to One Parent Families Scotland seeking support for her son, Charlotte has found real benefits in the support available for her, building digital skills – and more importantly – relationships, boosting not only her job prospects, but her overall confidence and wellbeing.

She now has the motivation to be proactive about her future, and in addition to looking for retail jobs to support her and her son in the short-term, is applying for training grants to work towards a new career in social care – inspired by the support she’s received.