Corbett Library have been awarded a project grant by the Good Things Foundation to help battle digital exclusion within its catchment area.
With the cost-of-living crisis driving up inequalities and layering further complexities on the personal circumstances of Lewisham residents, Corbett Library noted a surge in demand for its services.
It is evident in the experiences of local library users that too many in our community feel they are locked out of the system designed to help them.
The Library sought £4,000 in funding to launch new projects aimed at easing the burden on those in the community who suffer digital exclusion, which has been granted by the Good Things Foundation.
The aim is to create an environment in which the Library is recognised as an agile and modern digital hub and access point for all ages, with a legacy of skilled digital communicators on hand every day to meet emerging local needs.
This funding will allow three new projects to develop in the first half of the year, with the aim of building up capacity to allow these services to become self-sufficient over time.
The Library will be investing in doubling capacity in its popular Online Support Services operation, which helps people complete online government forms, while reducing waiting times and encouraging more self-sufficiency.
A robust employability service, concentrating on digital job-searching, alongside traditional elements such as presentation and interview skills, will also be offered, starting with a Careers Week in February – followed by weekly drop-in and appointment sessions, on a group and one-to-one basis.
Popular existing ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes will be offered targeted digital tuition, to help isolated or vulnerable members of the community to integrate faster into the social fabric of the area, find work, and accelerate their language learning.
Centre Manager Rachel Braithwaite said: “This support is highly welcome to our local library – and we know from the experience of our service users just how valuable these projects will be.
“In the current climate, community is crucial – and nobody should have to feel isolated or left behind for lacking basic digital skills.
“Every day we see elderly people locked out of social connection, financially vulnerable individuals excluded from vital services and skills, and young people who do not enjoy the same access to devices and data as their peers. The clear common thread is inequality in digital inclusion.
“From language learning and socialising, to employability and critical support, we are delighted to be able to expand our services in the coming months and build a bridge into the modern world for so many who have been allowed to slip through the cracks.”