When you think about not being able to do the things that you do digitally, it seems inconceivable that you would be able to manage. Online banking, online shopping, scheduling appointments, setting reminders, apps for just about everything you could ever need!

Yes, there are those of us that remember how we managed before and may even profess that those were far simpler times. But technological advances have made such an underlying and significant impact on everyone and everything in the modern world.

On an individual level, the digital world enriches our lives, and those of our children providing access to information, wider social connections, improved communication, efficiencies with ‘life laundry’, vast entertainment and education opportunities, the list goes on. Unfortunately, this enrichment and improved life chances are not obtainable for many people, and this is something we, at Family Fund want to address through our vision “that families raising disabled or seriously ill children have the same choices, quality of life, opportunities, and aspirations as other families” and our mission “to improve the day-to-day lives of families on a low income, raising a disabled or seriously ill child, or young person.”

Our families are typically on the lowest incomes and have significant caring responsibilities, they can need to make and attend frequent appointments with several different services, complete welfare, and assessment forms, and, on occasion, even provide therapies and medical care. Family Fund aims to make a difference with essential items and services that ease daily pressures and improve quality of life.

In recent years, we have seen the requests for help with technology devices grow to be one of the most popular among our grants. Parents and Carers often make the case for devices to help support their children but report that they aren’t confident in using the devices themselves and are very often unaware of the capabilities the devices have, or how being more digital can help them too.

“I wanted to understand more about using the iPad and tailor the device for [him] to support his development, but I wasn’t sure where to start. The Family Fund workshop was a fantastic taster session, introducing me to the iPad’s potential and setting me on the path to learn more. I’d really recommend it.”

This was the catalyst for our ‘Discover Digital’ programme which offers a suite of free, interactive, online, digital skills workshops, information, and signposting. Workshops are relaxed and friendly and delivered by specialist trainers who have a vast knowledge of digital devices and experience of supporting Family Fund families. We also deliver workshops under our ‘Finances Online’ support where families can learn how to use the internet to maximise their income and make daily life a little easier.

“There was a time when me and my two sons spent two days with a bag of bread and a jar of chocolate spread. And that was all we had to eat. It’s not because I lost money, it’s because that’s how much I had to pay for bills before I knew how to compare them to other companies.”


“Now I’ve got this iPad, I know how to check and compare companies quickly. Especially with the electricity. I was paying almost double the price for gas, over £1,100 for a two-bedroom house. Now I’ve learnt how to compare them, I’ve halved my electricity bill alone. That’s one of the things I learnt.”

It’s a tricky business trying to learn new skills when you already have so much to contend with, but we find that our families are driven by supporting their children and, through this, we can encourage them to get started. They can then find out more and continue their journey. This is where being part of the Digital Poverty Alliance helps. It allows sharing of resources and best practice in a collaborative environment so that we can guide people to other help such as where to get data or further skills.

For me, the impact of this small intervention can be transformational, I have seen it and feel honoured to be able to be a part of it.


Written by: Alison Davies, Head of Service Development and Delivery at Family Fund