Building digital skills to end homelessness


Building digital skills to end homelessness

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Get Digital Scotland turns one – and gets a birthday present!


A journey through our first year

It’s been a whirlwind first 12 months for Simon Community Scotland’s initiative Get Digital Scotland. As it’s our birthday week, we would like to share with you some of the key parts of our journey over the past year. 

We’ve also just received an amazing birthday present: we have been nominated for the Digital Inclusion Initiative of the Year in the 2020 Digital Leaders 100 Awards.

Here are our highlights – read below for more details:

  • Funding secured from the Scottish Government for a national digital inclusion programme
  • Get Digital Scotland launches March 2019 at Streetwork Holyrood Hub
  • Get Digital Champions trained by our partners Mhor Collective – over 130 so far!
  • Service Users and Staff able to assess their skills in a structured way using our Get Digital Framework
  • New resources available at Simon Community Scotland: The Digital Zone, Digital Drop-ins and a monthly Digital Café
  • More services across Scotland benefiting from Get Digital resources and training
  • Staff learning new skills and applying this to improve service delivery using GPS data and mapping tools
  • Our leadership in digital inclusion recognised by being nominated in the 2020 Digital Leaders 100 Awards. 
  • Thousands of people being supported by Get Digital Champions – helping to break down the barriers to exiting homelessness. 

Get Digital Scotland

Making things happen for people

Early in 2019, we secured funding from the Scottish Government to roll out a digital inclusion programme throughout Scotland’s homelessness sector. We were excited to be leading a much needed initiative to ensure anyone affected by homelessness can have get support they need to access and benefit from the digital world.

Our launch event with Kate Forbes and our first Get Digital Champions!

Our Get Digital Scotland Launch Event was held on  7th March 2019 at the Streetwork Holyrood Hub in Edinburgh.  We were delighted to have Kate Forbes, the then Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy join us to officially launch the Get Digital Scotland Programme and celebrate with our first cohort of Get Digital Champions! We also launched a website ( and Twitter account (@GetDigitalScot).

Delivering training in partnership with skilled and savvy people

Through our Get Digital Champion programme, front line staff are given the skills and confidence to fold informal skills sharing into the work they do with the people we support. The Get Digital Champion model and training programme is being delivered by our partners The Mhor Collective (@mhorcollective). We must thank our friends at SCVO Digital (@digiscot) for their huge contribution in helping us to develop the content of the training programme.

The Get Digital Framework – strengthening the skills we need in a digital world

Get Digital Scotland is built around the Get Digital Framework – 20 essential digital skills selected by our service users, volunteers and staff.  This enables support staff to assess their own and service users’ skills gaps in a structured way, and then build relevant support around each individual’s needs.

Our new Digital Zone and Drop-in Sessions

We want to make it easy for everyone to participate online. So, to help people who do not have access to a connected device, we created The Digital Zone at the Streetwork Holyrood Hub. Open every day,  the space has desktop computers, laptops, tablets and a free WiFi network. It is available for the people who use our services so they can access the internet, free of charge. Anyone using The Digital Zone can ask for support from a Digital Champion or they can use the devices unsupported and take advantage of the benefits of the internet themselves. We hold regular Digital Drop In Sessions where people who use our services can get help with a range of online tasks such as developing CVs, applying for jobs, searching for accommodation, connecting with friends and family, accessing benefits and much more.

Reaching out across Scotland

Get Digital Scotland exists to support organisations across Scotland who provide homelessness services. In the past 12 months we have on-boarded 19 homelessness specific services across 3 organisations. Our work stretches across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, and plans are underway to start working in Dundee and Aberdeen in the coming weeks and months. In addition to supporting service users,  Get Digital encourages partner organisations to use the Get Digital programme as an opportunity to rethink how we support staff members own their digital skills, and how we involve them on this journey.

A Get Digital Café: informal peer-learning for staff

At Simon Community Scotland we have created The Get Digital Café – an internal monthly meetup for our staff. This is a dedicated space for staff to share and learn about their experience with the digital landscape. At each session, the group decides on a topic that is important to our work such as social media, increasing productivity, digital well being or ethics in the digital world and so much more. We reflect on the topic in terms of our own experience and that of the people we support, and come up with ways to empower service users and each other in the digital world.

Making things easier and better for everyone

A combination of improvements in digital technology and an increase in staff digital skills is opening up all kinds of opportunities for homelessness services and is changing the way we work. An example of this is the Street Team in Edinburgh using mobile devices and Google Maps technology to collect GPS data when engaging with people experiencing homelessness around the city. By analysing this data they are able to identify trends and patterns resulting in a far more efficient service. We are exploring opportunities to develop an app to maximise the impact of this technology.

Proud to be making an impact

After a very busy 12 months, we are delighted to announce that we have been nominated for the Digital Inclusion Initiative of the Year in the 2020 Digital Leaders 100 Awards. What a wonderful way to celebrate our first birthday! However, there is an even bigger reason to celebrate – the impact that is being delivered by our 138 (and counting) Digital Champions. They are working with thousands of digitally excluded people across Scotland’s homelessness sector.

By helping people to learn digital skills and increase their confidence online, we are beginning to break down the barriers to exiting homelessness.



Get Digital Scotland turns one – and gets a birthday present!

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