Aviva Community Fund 2017
Our members make us proud. They are inspiring women; they embrace the 21st Century, challenge notions of the WI, have a desire to learn and will use their new digital skills to help family and community. We are proud of a project already changing members’ lives.
Vote for "Get Comfortable Online" here
We have applied to the Aviva Community Fund because, we would use the funding to replace, enhance and develop our current 15-year old IT equipment and out-of-date software.
View our video here
We already have a programme to engage, train and develop members’ digital skills and run training for WI Web Editors and Facebook. Since the programme started last year we have trained over 130 members at our monthly workshops and in the course of doing so have realised that there is a large appetite from members, of all skill levels, to learn more. A National WI initiative has given us the opportunity to set-up a Digital Team of nationally accredited volunteer WI members, who’s remit is “to inspire, enthuse, educate and guide members to develop their digital skills” and it needs to purchase reliable equipment and current software. We are now asking members what they need to get online, or feel more comfortable online, so that we can then create responses to their needs but we can’t do this with our current limited equipment.
Too many adults in Britain don’t have the basic digital skills they need to benefit from the online world. There are 5,500 Norfolk WI members in 164 WIs throughout Norfolk. They will directly benefit from these newly acquired skills for life and pass them on to their family, friends and communities.
For over 100 years, the WI’s main purpose, enshrined in our Constitution, has been “to advance the education of women and girls for the public benefit in all areas”. This has enabled generations of women to acquire the skills they need to enrich theirs and their families’ lives, improve their employment skills and “to promote civic responsibility and volunteering”.
As the Norfolk Federation approaches its centenary, we are looking to advance members’ education by helping them to develop their digital skills. Digital exemption is particularly amplified in rural communities such as Norfolk. Increasingly, though, more members live in urban areas, but they can be equally disadvantaged and excluded, as services and offers become only accessible online. It would make a difference to members and their families, if they could order repeat prescriptions, find or update utility suppliers, or use council services online. It could challenge and change isolation if they felt more able to shop, search online, talk face-to-face with family and friends living elsewhere.
The WI, nationally, voted in 2017 to ‘alleviate loneliness’, to ensure that people who are lonely, or at risk of loneliness, are identified, supported and helped. Loneliness is more damaging to health than physical inactivity or obesity, with health implications on a par with smoking 15 cigarettes a day. With 15% of working age people identifying as being lonely this affects all age groups. We believe that in seeking to give our members skills to connect with the online world, we are helping to tackle this. Digitally excluded people are the group already most likely to experience health inequalities, but if enabled to access services, information, absent family and friends it could have a positive impact on their health.
The Norfolk Digital Team has more members than many other of the 69 WI Federations but is struggling with the limited and unreliable equipment. Members have to bring their own PCs to workshops - if they have them. With a newer and wider range of equipment we could reach more people and a wider a range of needs. Currently workshops are held at our Norwich HQ but we have already started to use member power to find venues around Norfolk so that we can move workshops around the county.
We are proud of our Norfolk WI members and what they have achieved for their communities in the past 100 years. We want to skill them to tackle the next 100. We know there’s a whole world on the internet for our members to get out and connect with, however isolated their circumstances. We want to do whatever we can to help them.