For nearly a year now, life under COVID-19 and the restrictions to protect public health have highlighted more than ever the importance of access to the digital world. We have all needed to rely on digital tools for access to everything from our finances to work to learning to groceries, and to connect with services, our friends, and loved ones.
Digital exclusion means a lack of kit, connection, and confidence, which disproportionately affects many people including care leavers. CELCIS, the Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection, has published a new Inform Briefing sharing the findings of a focused piece of research with care leavers who explain their experiences, carried out in Scotland by CELCIS and the University of Edinburgh. CELCIS also recently hosted a webinar sharing the findings of the report and hearing from a panel of young people, practitioners and policy activists about what is being done to bridge the digital divide, and the record is available to view online.
This report shares the findings of a focused piece of research carried out in Scotland by CELCIS and partners at the University of Edinburgh. The aim of the research was to understand care leavers' experiences of digital exclusion before and during the COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland in 2020 and builds on earlier work which explored this issue by looking at the experience and provision across 17 local authority areas in Scotland by surveying those working within local authority services.
This research found that the experience and issues which underpin digital exclusion within the care experienced community had been exacerbated by the pandemic and its subsequent social restrictions. Challenges around ensuring digital access during the pandemic included: a lack of hardware; a lack of access to stable broadband or Wi-Fi; and for some, gaps in digital confidence and literacy.