Being online these days no longer feels optional; it’s a social and economic necessity.  We live in a progressively digital world, where 90% of new jobs require digital skills, an increasing number of essential services are delivered online and if you’re not online there’s a strong chance you could be socially isolated.

Yet we know around 10% of adults in Stockport aren’t online and a fifth don’t have the basic digital skills of communicating, creating, transacting, problem solving, managing information.

When we embarked upon our digital programme we also committed ourselves to providing support for those who do not have access to digital technology or those who do not have digital skills but would like to learn.

Our DigiKnow initiative has for the past year been promoting the benefits of being online and signposting where in Stockport residents can learn how to get online, use a computer with free internet access or improve their digital skills.

Digital Inclusion Alliance

We have now tackled the issue head on by setting up a ‘Digital Inclusion Alliance’, spearheaded by Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, but made up of local organisations including Stockport Homes, TPA (the Prevention Alliance) and Starting Point.

The Alliance will work closely with a host of organisations from across the public, private and voluntary sectors to build a strong and sustainable Digital Inclusion movement across Stockport. The movement will join together all of the great initiatives already underway in Stockport to grow the digital support network and bring help within easy reach of residents in all our communities.

The Council has provided some initial  funding to set up the Alliance to improve the quality of our residents’ lives, increase employment opportunities and create a digitally able workforce that will help both residents and businesses in Stockport to grow and prosper. We are committed to supporting our digitally excluded residents by equipping them with the basic digital skills they need to find sustainable jobs, save money, stay connected and feel happier and healthier.  Our aim is for the Alliance to become self-sustaining once the initial funding comes to an end.

Those at risk of Digital Exclusion are typically less likely to engage with libraries, adult learning or digital skills training. These demographic groups include people on low incomes, physically disabled people, people with sensory impairments, people with learning disabilities, unpaid carers, people with mild to moderate mental health issues, job seekers, older people over 65, those who are housebound or socially isolated, and non-native English speakers.

Our partners in the Digital Inclusion Alliance have experience in reaching these groups and we look forward to working with them as part of the circle of support we are building for local people and communities.

Adam Micklethwaite, Director of Digital Inclusion at Good Things Foundation said:  “We’re delighted to be working with Stockport Council and a range of great partners across the borough, including Starting Point Community Partnership, Stockport Homes and The Prevention Alliance. By helping community organisations build digital into their social mission, we can reach and support those who need our help the most. Those facing digital exclusion are more likely to be unemployed, have low skills or a disability, and it’s great to see Stockport Council recognising that investment in digital confidence and skills can open up new opportunities for people, families and communities.”