Hertsmere Mencap has this week launched a pilot Digital Inclusion Programme, to help tackle the heightened risk of isolation, loneliness and the deterioration of mental health, faced by adults with a learning disability.

Coronavirus has highlighted the impact of digital exclusion among the most vulnerable. In particular, Hertsmere Mencap and charities with similar causes, have reported how their members who are not online, often struggle more in multiple areas, compared to their peers with internet access.

The Hertfordshire Community Foundation (HCF) has provided a £5,000 grant from its ‘Coronavirus Emergency Fund’, for the creation of a three- month pilot project, for six adults, with no prior experience of using technology, to participate in a six-week Digital Inclusion Programme, including the loan of an Ipad.

On completion of the personalised Programme, trainees will be able to register online for various services, such as supermarket shopping and doctors appointments. They will learn how to communicate with their friends and loved ones and how join Zoom meetings, including ‘Coffee Morning’ and ‘Dance Aerobics’, hosted by Hertsmere Mencap. Trainees will also be shown how to access other support services online, browse the internet and play games.  In some cases, they will be shown how to access their local jobcentre to encourage them to undertake online training courses with help and advice about finding work.

The pilot project has been designed by a small, dedicated team of volunteers, who are experts in their field, with a view to rolling it out to all members of Hertsmere Mencap who lack IT knowledge.


Jake Lesner, Volunteer trainer said:

“I am so happy to be helping people, especially with something that they may not have had a chance to do had it not been for Hertsmere Mencap.


“I love helping people, whatever their needs are – tailoring sessions to the specific person”.


Following his first session, Michael Hammond, Hertsmere Mencap learner said:

“I was a bit nervous at the start as I have never used an ipad, but it was awesome and I loved learning how to play games on the ipad too. I did much better than I expected and I’m excited about next week.”


Paul Moser, Chair Hertsmere Mencap said:

‘Our Members need to maintain their social interactions, many of which are now only possible online. We intend for the new IT skills learned, to continue to benefit our members, parents and carers beyond the period of lockdown and enhance their quality of life and mental health. We are hoping to grow the confidence of our members in using technology to aid their everyday lives.’


For more information, contact Lucy Sitton, Head of Communications.

m: 07938 722 619/ e: hdcomm@hertsmeremencap.org.uk

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