Family Fund’s Digital Skills Programme, which provides training to parents, carers and young people to help them get the most out of their digital device, has been shortlisted for the Family Support Award at this year’s Children & Young People Now Awards.

The Family Support Award recognises “the initiative or service that has done the most to support whole families to help their children lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives safe from harm” with particular priority given to “work that has helped challenging or disadvantaged families.”

Since launching in 2015, the Digital Skills Programme has provided face-to-face training to over 700 parents and carers to help them understand how to use their tablets in ways that support their disabled child, as well as enhancing their own digital skills.

A report published earlier this year, Building Digital Confidence, based on feedback from those who had taken part in training, highlighted the ways in which parents and carers felt the programme had made a difference to them. Before the training, only 16% of parents/carers said they knew how to set parental controls on their device, and just 28% felt confident about how to stay safe online. After training, these figures rose to over 90% and 70% respectively. Similarly, 86% of people surveyed said they were now confident in using their device, compared with just 46% before training.

Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund, said “We are delighted that the Digital Skills Programme has been nominated for this award. This is a testament to the significant difference the programme has had to date, but also recognises the real need it is addressing for the parents and carers we support.

“Almost a quarter of the population either do not access the internet at all or are defined as ‘limited’ users, and many of these include both those on low incomes and disabled people. This means that families who receive a grant for technology through Family Fund often fall on the wrong side of this ‘digital divide’.

“We know from talking to parents and carers how the digital devices they receive from us can make a difference to accessibility in everyday life for their disabled children and young people, supporting with communication, education, social interaction, and motor skills.

“There is of course much more to do and we are actively seeking further partnerships with funders and other organisations to continue to develop the programme and help close the gap on the digital divide for families raising disabled children across the UK.”

Other shortlisted organisations in the category are Body & Soul, Leeds City Council. London Borough of Camden, Midlothian Sure Start, Norland College, and Park Community School, Hampshire. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 21 November in London.

Click here to find out more about our Digital Skills Programme.

Visit the Children & Young People Now Awards website.