DigiKnow, our digital inclusion programme, is now five years old! After the last two years of pivot and flex caused by the pandemic, we recently met with the steering partners to look at what we have achieved and workshop our roadmap.
Undeniably the biggest challenge facing residents in 2022/23 is the cost-of-living crisis. As partners, we all agreed that this would shape the programme as we focus on the role of digital in addressing this problem:
- Libraries: Many people on low incomes have always relied on access to free-to-use devices and WiFi at our libraries, as well as the support of library staff doing things online. We have recently rolled out Open + access to a further three libraries, and we are also setting up Digital Champion training for all staff.
- DigiKnow Device library: Starting Point’s Device Lending Library, with its free-to-borrow devices and access to free data from the National Databank, will remain essential for many on low incomes.
- Community Computers: the low-cost refurbished computers from the Community Computers recycling scheme are vital. The sustainability of this service is heavily reliant on good quality equipment donations, and we will continue to promote this so that businesses and residents can have their unused tech collected or drop it off at any Stockport library.
- Stockport Homes: they have already embarked on a social housing internet access pilot and plans to improve accessibility to devices across temporary accommodation.
- TPA: now triaging the new Stockport Support Hub, addressing multiple needs across this and other areas.
Colleagues from across the DigiKnow partnership will be sharing more information in upcoming blogs about the work they are leading.
We also identified some exciting new projects to take forward over the coming months, including Starting Point’s ‘DigiKnow Friends’ training and growing the links between our DigiKnow Digital Champions and the Stockport Volunteer Hub. More to follow on this soon!
We are also increasing support for the VCFSE sector to build support capacity and increase community group sessions. Our strategy has always been to work with community groups and organisations, which continues to be the key to the programme’s success and we are delighted that the number of community groups joining the DigiKnow network is steadily growing – we now have 60 partners!
We will also continue collaborating with GM on projects such as ‘Doing digital in later life’ and ‘Digitober’, including the National Get Online Week. Last year was our biggest ever Get Online Week in Stockport, and we are challenging ourselves to do even more this year, with support from all the partners across the wider DigiKnow network. This year we are looking for community groups and venues to host events – please get in touch if you want to be involved during October.
We recently attended the Community Online Group at Offerton Community Centre run by Stockport Homes and had the opportunity to speak to some of the attendees. The video and quotes below are a great demonstration of why it is so important to have digital skills and the wider social benefits of the community classes.
iPad class has helped me in many ways. I can send and receive emails, find things out on google, buy goods online or book a railway ticket.
The reason I started attending the sessions was because I felt I was getting left behind and wanted to learn about iPads.
It will help me with job applications as I’m currently on JSA. Applying for jobs just using my phone is difficult, especially when creating my CV.
I’m going into training; this will help so much for me to become a nurse in the future
I turn up to the classes with a smile on my face.
I borrowed a device from Starting Point as I had a very limited amount of data on my phone. With the data and tablet lent to me from the lending library I am able to go online in order to use Learn My Way, access my benefits and universal credit and also apply for jobs freely.
And finally, the latest numbers
Through our DigiKnow programme, we have engaged with more than 23,000 people which includes over 3,000 group and 1-2-1 sessions and 10,000 telephone engagements. Libraries have supported almost 1,700 people since opening their doors after lockdown restrictions were lifted. Our businesses and communities have generously donated 2,651 pieces of equipment to Community Computers who have refurbished and resold these at low cost to those most in need in Stockport.
So, we have a plan and we’re really looking forward to seeing the new projects started and existing projects grow. Hope to see you at a DigiKnow event soon!
If you know someone who wants to learn to do more online, visit the DigiKnow web pages or call the #DigiKnow Helpline on 07724 217888.