HEAR’s 11th Digital Exclusion case study comes from
Community Action
a peer support group:
Getting Creative At Home

By Chris Pavlakis of Community Action

Community Action is a peer support group of persons with lived experiences in Greater London. They are a mixed group, with 37 members, the youngest is 38 years old and the oldest 65, and has members from BAME communities, members who identify themselves as males, females and non-binaries.

Community Action grew from three people who met in a digital storytelling workshop run by the Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University that stayed in touch, met regularly for peer support, sharing about their mental health journey for comfort and support.

Understanding the needs of their community as well as digital exclusion led Community Action to develop Hybrid Remote working and accessibility to enable isolated people to stay connected and creative and encourage use of technology by building confidence and safe online spaces. Some recommendations and good practice below:

  • “Disabled People are seen primarily as ‘benefit claimants’ and ‘needy’ & their relationship with the system has a fundamental power imbalance;
  • Traditional, top-down approaches & assumptions turn out to narrow the scope of delivery in terms of digital services or training programmes;
  • Even if support was improved, the lack of trust in the system means disabled people may not engage.

Our suggestion against this context are in favor of a community-led approach as response:

  • Treating people as people;
  • Starting with people’s strengths;
  • Empowering people to make their own choices;
  • Support based on what people need, including but not limited to financial, emotional and technical support;
  • Starting where trust already exists…

Local services must work well together in partnership to meet people’s needs…

    • Community participation, particularly among those facing complex disadvantage, should be actively facilitated throughout design & delivery;
      • Funding & evaluation should promote collaborative, community-led support”