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Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service

Introduction

The importance of embedding Digital and Social Inclusion initiatives across health, care and community sectors has been recognised as a national priority for quite sometime.

Since 2018, the Connected Nottinghamshire team has been working to tackle digital exclusion throughout Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s Integrated Care System, and it’s been an ongoing journey since first establishing the project and its innovative schemes in 2019. Then, later having to modify these in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure citizens had continued access to support given the necessary restrictions. Throughout this time, there has always been an understanding that not one organisation can lead the fight to overcome digital inequalities. Improving peoples digital inclusion has to be a shared agenda and involve stronger networks of
health, care and community organisations working together towards one goal.

Alongside this, there’s evidence to suggest that the best way to engage with and help people is to adopt an approach of taking digital health support to citizens to places where they feel most comfortable, amongst people they feel most comfortable with. It’s from this knowledge that we set about establishing a bold new scheme, whereby we adopted a place-based approach to digital inclusion. Strengthening partnerships between local 3rd sector organisations by expanding on the great work they were already doing.

The Community and Voluntary Sector Collaboration Scheme

To ensure digitally disempowered communities could access and take advantage of digital opportunities, Connected Nottinghamshire introduced it’s Community and Voluntary Service (CVS) Collaboration Scheme.

Through the provision of small grants, £5000. Local CVS organisations across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire were tasked with developing and testing delivery
models over a six month period.

The model focuses on increasing the provision of digital access, skills, and support available locally, as well as improving awareness of and support to access digital health and care services – especially with those who experience the greatest health inequalities.

Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service
Mansfield CVS has long acknowledged the need for embedding digital support across their district, to help their local community access services. Only to be highlighted further during the height of the pandemic and overnight shift to digital living to carry out the most basic of daily tasks.


During March – July 2020, the service received a total of 5012 calls for support. These were from people needing support from shopping, befriending, medical collection and general isolation. 25% of these people were unable to access online provision. This started the conversation that digital exclusion was a real issue locally that needed to be addressed.


In June 2021 Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service started their delivery model and ran this through to December 2021. This report shares the impact Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service has made during that time, their learning and explores how this can inform future digital inclusion development.

Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service

Mansfield CVS has long acknowledged the need for embedding digital support across their district, to help their local community access services. Only to be highlighted further during the height of the pandemic and overnight shift to digital living to carry out the most basic of daily tasks.

During March – July 2020, the service received a total of 5012 calls for support. These were from people needing support from shopping, befriending, medical collection and general isolation. 25% of these people were unable to access online provision. This started the conversation that digital exclusion was a real issue locally that needed to be addressed.

In June 2021, Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service started their delivery model and ran this through to December 2021. This report shares the impact Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service has made during that time, their learning and explores how this can inform future digital inclusion development.

Mansfield as a community

The Mansfield district falls within the top 15% of most deprived areas within the country with 1 in 7 neighbourhoods in Mansfield appearing amongst the 10% most deprived nationally.

Mansfield as a district has a multitude of issues with digital connectivity. People’s hierarchy of needs mean they cannot afford or access the latest, most basic technology or data/ broadband. Accessibility to provision in priority wards is non-existent unless travelling into town. Whilst there is free public Wi-Fi available in the town centre, there has been limited shift towards residents reaping it’s rewards.

Lack of educational attainment is below the national average with a higher proportion of the working age population with no qualifications, meaning some people don’t have the basic digital skills to safely benefit from IT. In addition to this, cultural and social factors mean there is reservation to access further IT support or training.

Digital and Social inclusion research undertaken in 2018 suggested that Mansfield had a medium likelihood of a digital exclusion, with high contributing factors relating to social metrics; education, income and health. Moving forward to 2021/22 and a revalidation of that research via our systems digital exclusion map shows Mansfield North PCN as one of the most excluded areas, with several LSOAs in this boundary not having access to supportive assets that help to reduce digital exclusion.

Target Audiences

People who are digitally excluded are most at risk of poorer access to services and worse health outcomes, they’re also many of the people who could most benefit from digital services. A key element of this scheme has been to support people and communities who face the greatest health inequalities. By improving their access to connectivity, development of essential skills, confidence, and motivation. Meaning better access to information and care, increased convenience, and more opportunities for greater control of their own health, care and wider wellbeing.

Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service approached their delivery models by offering support to everyone through their Voluntary and Community Sector networks. These groups supported:

  • citizens with physical and mental health conditions
  • citizens with disabilities
  • older people
  • parents and children
  • citizens seeking employment
  • citizens requiring welfare support
  • volunteers.

The service took their delivery out into the community at venues in Ladybrook, Bellamy and Forest Town – where they were able to make each session accessible for all. There were no preconceptions of anyone’s ability prior to this.

Objectives

The introduction of the Community and Voluntary Service Collaboration Scheme had a simple set of objectives to meet, these were:

Embedding this type of digital inclusion initiative into community settings has benefits for society as a whole as well as for the NHS.

Delivery Model – Workshops

Recognising that community engagement and support has a huge impact on improving health, care and wider wellbeing. Mansfield CVS developed its workshop delivery model, where by pre-arranged sessions were conducted covering a range of topics from: Using the NHS App, accessing GPs digitally, contacting your local Authority/Services, staying safe online, creating and sending emails, using Zoom and many more Sessions were held at Community House and were advertised via social media and through partner organisations.

What worked

  • Workshops were successful in creating an informal and relaxed atmosphere which put the participants at ease.
  • Individuals asking questions created a cascade effect for those that may have felt intimidated to ask their own questions.
  • Some liked the group workshop so that were not alone in the learning and could rely on others asking questions
  • Some participants felt less intimidated as part of a group.

Challenges faced

  • The initial challenge was creating enough interest in the sessions.
  • Clients could be initially sceptical of courses that are advertised as free.
  • Apprehension of ‘looking silly’ in front of others
  • Language barriers with non-English speakers

Lessons Learnt

  • It was essential to have a preprepared presentation and to allow time for additional questions on other subject matters. Knowing that not
  • One to one support was also necessary during the workshops.
  • It may be helpful to arrange follow up one to ones with individuals.

Delivery Model – One to One Sessions

Digital inclusion support mechanisms can be complex and take a long time to successfully embed. Not one single intervention will resolve the digital divide and bring speedy results. In addition to this, people learn in different ways and so support needs to be person- centred to overcome barriers and increase their motivations. In response to this, Mansfield CVS expanded its workshops into one to one sessions. The sessions were one hour slots with individuals on an appointment basis, where a presentation was worked through and then additional support given.

What worked

  • Being able to talk directly and focus attention on one person worked very well and resulted in a more tailored approach
  • Feeling more comfortable to ask questions that they felt would be perceived as silly in front of others
  • Being able to dedicate more focussed time to those that were much less digitally confident.

Challenges faced

  • For the less confident participants, the main challenge was to be able to understand what they wanted to
    achieve.
  • One hour sessions were in some cases, not long enough.
  • A few participants using the sessions more as a time just to talk rather than wanting digital support
  • Language barriers.

Lessons Learnt

  • Individual needs vary greatly and some participants already had an understanding of what was being discussed.
  • Knowledge of the individual’s level of ability would have been useful prior to the session.

Reach and Impact

Over the course of the six month delivery period, Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service were tasked with achieving the following targets:

What they achieved

Case Studies – 1 and 2

Support with finding employment online

Janine first came to one of Mansfield CVS’ workshop sessions on creating a CV and support for online job applications, having noticed the sessions were free of charge.

Lacking a bit of self confidence and in need of some moral support to get started with completing an application form online, the session gave her useful tips on; using more in depth features on Microsoft Word including shortcuts, using mail merge and how to research the organisation she was applying for. Janine told us she’d used this new found knowledge straight away to apply for a job online.

I used the guidance in the session to create a CV which I have used for my application..

Having really enjoyed her first workshop, Janine decided to book onto a few more. In particular the NHS App session, wanting to take a more proactive role in her health by understanding how she could improve her health, care and wellbeing online.

The workshops were all really useful and I enjoyed the informative style of the sessions.

The impact of the support provided by Mansfield CVS through this Collaboration Scheme really made Janine feel relaxed, the friendly atmosphere and helpful support would make her recommend this to any one. Not only this, but the biggest impact the support had, resulted in Janine getting a new job!

Just to say thank you for the support and I now have a job where I will also use some of my new digital confidence!

Improving IT Skills for daily tasks

Kelly came to Mansfield CVS workshop sessions to improve her basic IT skills, now that a lot of daily tasks needed to be carried out online due to Covid-19.

Looking for advice and support on how to access practical things like public services, information, entertainment and others through technology. She decided to join the Zoom, E-Mail management and budgeting workshops.

I learnt how to use Zoom so now I can use this to connect with friends/ family etc.

The sessions encouraged Kelly to think about new ways of working and showed her the benefit of doing things digitally could have to her. Whilst she’s used some of the skills learnt, she continues to access further support to set this up [budgeting spreadsheet] properly so I can use it every month to see where my outgoings. and work through some of these [emails] and put them in my archive folder so it’s not too much. And, work through some of these [emails] and put them in my archive folder so it’s not too much.

set this up [budgeting spreadsheet] properly so I can use it every month to see where my outgoings. and work through some of these [emails] and put them in my archive folder so it’s not too much.

work through some of these [emails] and put them in my archive folder so it’s not too much.

Overall Kelly really appreciated the sessions, finding them supportive and useful in improving her knowledge of IT. As well as increasing her motivation, essentials skills that she can now apply to all areas.

Thank you for all your help and support with getting me on the courses. I really appreciate it.

Future Focus

  • Due to the success and feedback of the sessions, Mansfield CVS will continue to offer digital support on a one-to-one basis via the telephone or in person via appointment.
  • They are also looking at how they can utilise the data collected in this to put in place Community IT drop ins. The focus being in all 5 local priority wards: Oaktree, Bellamy, Pleasley and Bull Farm, Ladybrook and Warsop.
  • Connectivity is vital for all emotional and mental wellbeing; The pandemic has changed the landscape on how services operate in day-to-day life. Our aims and strategy always remain the same: To have an inclusive and accessible Mansfield for all.
  •  The CVS Collaboration Scheme has really started the conversation on the big digital divide. Thank you for helping us get the wheels started. We hope to continue to work together, educate, and inform people on how to take ownership of their wellbeing through a digital medium.

Resources

Mansfield Community and Voluntary Service created and array of resources to support them in their delivery models, these can be used when trying to embed support into your own digital inclusion interventions

Training Guides

Workshop Presentations Given – Contact Mansfield CVS to see these

  • Using NHS App
  • Accessing GP digitally
  • Contacting your local Authority/Services
  • Dealing with online payments (Council Tax/Garden waste etc.)
  • Staying safe online
  • Using Zoom
  • Online grocery shopping
  • Online job applications
  • Creating a CV
  • Creating an email account
  • Sending emails
  • Creating a simple spreadsheet
  • Creating a simple poster
  • Using comparison websites
  • Digital Champion Training

Health Related Support

Our plan for delivering outstanding
digital health and care

How we will deliver a successful digital health and care strategy

Striving for greater collaboration
between all sectors in our region