By day I run a welfare to work organisation , but by night … I am chair of trustees at a wonderful charity called LASA* and this year at our conference, hosted by IBM, I was delighted to chair the session with Martha Lane Fox.
Her key note address focused on the importance of getting every adult to use the internet. She said that she took up the challenge because not just once, but twice, the internet had been essential in her life. First, of course, when she founded Lastminute.com. But secondly, after a car accident that left her with 30 broken bones when email and social networking allowed her to remain connected to the world.
Her project is not about infrastructure, or giving everyone a PC. Rather it is concerned with making people active internet users. She feels that people need access to a computer, but this can be at the library, or a cafe. What is important is that they use it.
She had lots of data about the importance of the internet for people facing social disadvantage. In particular if you are online you are more confident, more likely to get a job, and to be better paid.
She has been working with government, including discussions with DWP about Universal Credit and said we should look forward to the Government Digital Service relaunch next year.
Here is a video of my thoughts of the conference as a whole – part of Lasa’s record of the conference.
* Lasa is a charity that provides strategic and innovative services to support the provision of expert independent advice for all – key services includes the award winning Rightsnet website. Find out more here.