Tuesday 29th September 2015
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Autumn 2015
Vic Stirling, Head of Network at Tinder Foundation, on bridging the digital divide and improving access to online health information
Together with our partner NHS England, Tinder Foundation and our local network of UK online centres have supported 160,000 people to improve their digital health literacy skills as part of the Widening Digital Participation programme. As we enter the third year of the programme, we’re looking to further expand our reach, working with new partners and reaching new audience groups. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with Macmillan.
At Tinder Foundation, our mission is to make good things happen with digital technology. We do this through a network of 5,000 local partners – UK online centres – who support people to improve their digital skills.
9.5 million without basic online skills
You may be surprised to know there are currently 9.5 million people in the UK who don’t have basic digital skills, and almost 6 million have never been online before.
These people are likely to be older and from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and are therefore more likely to experience health inequalities.
Through the Widening Digital Participation programme, not only are we supporting people to improve their digital skills, but also to improve their digital health literacy skills so they can find information about their conditions and not be left behind as more and more information moves online.
Southampton Macmillan partnership
The backbone of the programme has been a small number of pathfinder projects, which have tested innovative approaches to using technology to support people in health settings. One of these has been a partnership between Southampton Libraries and Macmillan. Southampton Libraries have been training Macmillan volunteers to help patients look up information – helping them to take control of their own care and treatment.
The partnership has empowered patients so they can research their illness, connect with others and find peer support. Jo Reeve, Macmillan Information and Support Centre Manager in Southampton, says of the partnership, ‘Personally, I’d like to see this sort of initiative rolled out at every hospital across the UK. One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetimes. If we want to make that journey easier for everyone who has to make it, we need to make information easier. The internet can do that, and we can be there to help the people that need it – and us – the most.’
How to get involved
If you’d like to get involved with the Widening Digital Participation programme, you can do it in a number of ways. Our Learn My Way platform has two free courses that can help people learn more about improving their digital health skills. You can find these on the Learn My Way website. You could also get in touch with your local UK online centre – somewhere like Southampton Libraries – to discuss how you would work together. Find your local UK online centre or you can read more about the Widening Digital Participation programme and the impact it has had to date on the Tinder Foundation website.
Tinder Foundation also runs the Get Online Week campaign, which takes place this year from 12–19 October with the theme of health.
Head of Network
0114 221 0410