Patrick de la Hamette

Patrick de la Hamette

Digital inclusion for all

Patrick de la Hamette, engineer, is working in the social security sector and wants to help others in a concrete and practical way. A few years ago, he started volunteering and co-founded a non-profit organisation to support digital inclusion. He had not realised how big and satisfying this project would become.

We do our best to build bridges between people of different cultures.
Patrick de la Hamette,
aastat vana
Founder and President of the non-profit start-up 'Digital Inclusion'
What motivated you to create Digital Inclusion? And first of all, what is digital inclusion?

“In late 2015, I met several young people from Syria and other countries who had arrived in Luxembourg seeking refugee status. Several of them were engineers like me and I really hoped they would integrate into our society, but the problem was they did not have access to digital tools. As digitalisation is such an important part of our societies, I founded, with a sociologist friend, Digital Inclusion, a non-profit organisation, in early 2016. With the help of refugees and volunteers, we started refurbishing donated second-hand computers and handing them over to refugees. Our goal is to help everyone in Luxembourg – locals and foreigners alike– to have access to digital tools and promote social inclusion through digital technology. I wanted to help out because I had been working abroad for a long time and had been a migrant myself, so I know how it feels to be a foreigner.”

How do you promote socio-digital inclusion?

“Digital Inclusion promotes digital literacy. We teach digital skills in 9 languages to help people become autonomous in their personal and professional lives. Thanks to our Digi4All programme, more people have access to the digital society and, consequently, to better jobs. Digital skills make social integration easier in Luxembourg. Our staff includes refugees and former job seekers, and we pay attention to gender equality. We have many volunteers, yet we encourage job creation. We do our best to build bridges between people of different cultures and our IT classes are open to everyone, locals and newcomers.”

What do you need at the moment?

“We are always in need of used laptops, smartphones and tablets: we repair and redistribute them. Many people have digital skills but not the technical material. For those who are donating their old equipment, it is also a way to reduce their environmental footprint and participate in the circular economy.”

Did you receive any support from the European Union?

“The European Social Fund complemented the support we receive from national and foreign bodies, such as the Luxembourg Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social and Solidarity Economy. The European financing represents 25% of our budget. As a president and founder of Digital Inclusion, I still work as a volunteer around 20 hours a week, but we also have paid staff. This funding enabled us to extend the scope of the project: develop our offer of IT classes, create social jobs and diversify languages, etc. Our classes help jobseekers gain new skills. We have classes such as Introduction to personal computer use, First steps with computers, Introduction to email and Word, Computer essentials, Opportunities and risks in our digital world, Learn English/French online, etc.

In this way, the European funding is helping strengthen social cohesion in Luxembourg. Digital Inclusion is a beautiful project which has required a lot of hard work. Even though I had to set aside many other passions to make it happen, I would certainly do it again!”

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