Building digital skills to end homelessness


Building digital skills to end homelessness

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Simon Community Staff from our Digital and Harm Reduction teams inspire the nurses of the future.


Last year, Get Digital’s digital inclusion programme manager Nigel Gallear travelled to London to give a presentation on the Get Connected 500 and the Digital Approach to Harm Reduction programmes to a large collection of healthcare professionals from across the country at the Kings Fund. 


Nigel’s passion for the project resonated with his audience. So much so that he was approached by Dr Catherine Clarissa, a lecturer in nursing at the University of Edinburgh, who wished for Nigel to make the same presentation to one of her groups of nursing students. This week, Dr Catherine’s request became a reality. 


Nigel was accompanied by an additional member of the Get Digital team Ronan MacDonald and a member of Simon Community Scotland’s harm reduction team Hannah Boyle. What followed was a 40 minute presentation from the team which covered a short introduction of the work Simon Community Scotland do, then a more detailed description of Get Digital and the Get Connected 500 project with the final 15 minutes detailing our harm reduction approach and hopes for the future. 


Following the presentation the team members formed a short panel for a Q&A. It was clear that each of the students were invested in what was discussed as the panel were required to answer a number of questions posed by the student audience, providing Simon Community Scotland the opportunity to evidence why digital inclusion is so important for people experiencing homelessness and people who use drugs. 


Dr Catherine Clarissa said: “I wanted to thank Simon Community Scotland for speaking to the students today. They (including myself) very much enjoyed the talk and we gained valuable insight into your organisation. Again, my sincere thanks for contributing to our students’ learning. I hope that I can invite you all again in the future. All the best with your amazing projects!”


Nigel Gallear said: This collaboration with the University of Edinburgh is a fantastic opportunity for us, as the largest provider of Homelessness services in Scotland, to share our experiences of people who are experiencing extreme digital exclusion, and the impact this has on them accessing healthcare services. I think it is so important to reach out to  healthcare students early on in their careers to highlight issues that people experiencing homelessness face every day. I very much hope we can continue to work together to raise awareness.


Hannah Boyle said: It was a pleasure to be invited to speak with nursing students at The University of Edinburgh, and provide insight into our practice in working alongside people who use drugs. Sharing our learning and accomplishments is vital to raise awareness of why digital inclusion is necessary within a harm reduction space and how it can empower and support people who use drugs have opportunities to connect, access relevant information, and engage with services and people in their lives. We welcome every opportunity to be able to share and inform people about the benefits of harm reduction, as well as highlight the importance of trauma-informed, relationship first practice. Digital inclusion is essential within the work that we do – to ensure that all people have equal access to the benefits digital can bring to their lives.

Simon Community Staff from our Digital and Harm Reduction teams inspire the nurses of the future.

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