How Integrate UK are working towards digital inclusion
An inspiring case study from our report Response to change: how small voluntary organisations are using tech
Integrate is a youth-led charity based in Bristol. They aim to empower young people to actively transform the society they live in and to take an equal role in a cohesive and representative society. Topics the young people work on include racism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual harassment, extremism and homophobia. Tech is embedded into their work at Integrate; ‘Tech plays a huge role in opening access… It’s using all these tools to discuss sensitive, deeply engrained topics and empowering young people’.
Lockdown exacerbated inequalities: ‘Children we work with are faced with multiple socio-economic challenges as well as other challenges’. Some of the young people they work with didn’t have access to IT equipment: ‘We managed to secure a grant for 17 digital kits so that those young people who didn’t have equipment were able to engage’. Not only did the equipment help young people with their school education, but it also opened up access to an array of resources and services that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Knowing that young people had internet access, Integrate then offered a range of online activities. For example, weekly pastoral calls, online music recordings, adapting their school workshops to be delivered online, and online creative workshops. Integrate also launched a tutoring scheme: ‘We found university students and matched them up with young people’. One participant went from a 4 to a 9 (D to a high A*) and another went up two sets.
Integrate is seeing significant benefits from greater digital inclusion. Delivering their services online has enabled them to continue bringing young people together from different backgrounds: ‘Relationships form between the young people – from opposite ends of town, different races and backgrounds – all meeting on zoom as if they were old friends’.
A short animation by Integrate UK and their service users. It was developed over Zoom, with short, socially distanced shoots in the summer to introduce the young people before they became animated versions of themselves.
Knowing that they can overcome digital exclusion, Integrate plans to sustain the use of tech: ‘We will continue using Zoom as this means the workshops are more accessible to those who can’t come to the centre. There will now be the option of both: to join remotely or join the workshop in person. We’ve become more familiar and accustomed to using online platforms – that will never disappear’.
Response to change
We’ve collated the findings from our report on our key insights page here, as well as links to download the full report. Visit it to find tips and advice for SVOs; more stories of SVOs embracing digital as a response to Covid; suggestions for how funders can support the use of tech, and challenges facing both SVOs and funders.