Europe is experiencing a fast and increased digital transition in all areas of life, including social services. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has further enhanced this transition, revealing at the same time inequalities across Europe in that regard. Several strategies at EU level, including the ‘Path to the Digital Decade’ and the ‘Digital Education Action Plan’, aim to regulate the transition while noting that the opportunities brought about by digitalisation are not always available to everyone. It is very true that this transition threatens to further exclude those who are already experiencing vulnerabilities and who often struggle to deal with ICTs, such as people experiencing poverty or social exclusion. At the same time, digital inclusion can bring some opportunities to exit destitution, but more investment in resources and education is needed for that to happen, particularly for the non-formal education providers and social services working with people in vulnerable situations.
FEANTSA has been monitoring the latest policies in the area of the digital transition and works to raise awareness on the need to support digital inclusion for all. We underline that there is an existing need to analyse how ICT tools can be used to bridge the digital and social inclusion gap which impacts vulnerable groups and homeless people.
Our goal with the webinar on “Digital transition and Homelessness” was to provide evidence and analysis to ensure that the digital transition includes vulnerable and excluded people. Particularly, what impact can EU policies in this area have for CSOs working with people in destitution, and for people themselves? What are their needs and how to better address them? These questions and more were addressed during the webinar from Wednesday 23rd November.
Setting the frame: digital needs and support for people in homelessness: David Lowis, researcher at the Berlin University of the Arts
How is digital exclusion experienced from the ground?: Alice De Ronne, Solinum (France); Ellina van der Boon, De Regenboog Groep (Netherlands); Daan Vinck and Daniel Ciancio, Hobo vzw, speaker (Belgium)
Reactions from CSOs & discussion: what policies in tackling digital exclusion of those who are socially excluded?: with the participation of: Elisa Lironi, European Citizen Action Service & coordinator of the digital cluster of the Civil Society CoFoE ; Claire Fernandez, European Digital Rights; Benjamin Ignac, public policy expert in tech policy and human rights
Summary of the discussions & way forward: Simona Barbu & Sergio Pérez, FEANTSA