Libraries Connected currently holds two government subcontracts for the delivery of assisted digital services to local communities. We know that public libraries can support a wide range of local needs including those around information, literacy, employment and digital skills.
We are a supplier on the Government Digital Training and Support Services (GDS) Framework, which allows us to tender for paid opportunities to provide assisted digital and digital inclusion services for the public via libraries. Our two services are:
Assisted digital support with We Are Digital on behalf of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
Since September 2017, Libraries Connected and library services in England and Wales have been helping visa applicants get online and use the free public computer facilities in libraries. Over 1 million visa applications are made from the UK every year and an estimated 10,000 people may need help completing their application.
The project is led by We Are Digital, an experienced training company that is directing applicants to the most suitable routes for support. This support is provided in person via local libraries, in the applicant’s own home by We Are Digital’s visiting tutors, and by telephone from Migrant Help UK.
Libraries provide public computers, Wi-Fi, and help from library staff to access the new digital online visa service. Applicants can either walk in or book time with library staff to get help accessing and completing their online application form. Fifteen library authorities are currently taking part.
2. Digital visa support with Sopra Steria on behalf of UKVI
This is UK-wide project for UKVI covering digital, contact centres and physical service points. Local libraries will provide convenient and welcoming community service points which applicants can visit in person with their documentation and enjoy all the other library facilities on offer.
Library venues across England and in Scotland and Wales will provide local access to this service. Each location has been selected based on geographic spread and accessibility for customers. The scheme will go live in autumn 2018.
Library staff will help people who have already completed their visa application online to scan and submit their documentation and biometric data. This means applicants won’t have to post off vital documents, like passports, and can complete their visa application locally.
These contracts add to a growing portfolio of assisted digital services and information that libraries provide e.g:
- The Isle of Wight library service successfully piloted the online Census test for the Office for National Statistics with 8000 households
- The Information4living.org.uk information tool is available across English public library services to give public information on benefits, business, health and wellbeing, jobs/careers/skills, rights and citizenship, and money.
- Public libraries provide mainly free to use public computers, Wi-Fi, and digital skills sessions.
These opportunities enable libraries to continue to expand the service that they provide in the heart of their local communities; and future opportunities will be considered in consultation with library services and in line with our upcoming commercial principles strategy.