Starting Point have been the community partner in Stockport’s DigiKnow Alliance since March 2018. Since mid-April, when we moved our learning onto Zoom and offered remote digital support, we have offered over 130 organised Zoom sessions. This has seen hundreds of hours put in by the amazing volunteer Digital Champions as they worked to support hundreds and hundreds of participants. And those are just for the numbers for the classes. Outside of the sessions, the buddying up part of DigiKnow sees the number continue to grow and grow. When the country went into lockdown, DigiKnow did not. 

While libraries and places with public Wi-Fi were closed, many residents lost access to the internet, so we provided devices and data to many Stockport residents, through a combination of projects supported by the DevicesDotNow scheme, 02 and Stockport Council funds. This culminated with Stockport Local Fund awarding us almost £10,000 to set up a digital device lending library. 

By mid-July we had bought and set up our first batch of tablets and we were off! The people we loan the devices to have many different essential needs, such as job searches, staying connected with family members, mental health support and even to allow children to complete their schoolwork. 

Some people have one device that is being shared across the whole family and we are able to loan them additional devices. Some people don’t need a device but are struggling spending money on expensive pay-as-you-go mobile phone and data tariffs. We can help them to get online in the short-term for free with the loan of a dongle or data SIM. 

All borrowers also receive phone calls from our Digital Champions to make sure that everything is ok, and the device is providing them with the access they need. And they are shown how they can take part in a raft of online Zoom learning sessions or receive further one-to-one support. 

The standard loan period is one month for a tablet and three months for a laptop. The devices are completely clean of any previous data when loaned to residents and when they’re returned, all data is erased, and the device is reset and cleaned. 

We have a growing pool of devices, some internet-enabled, that we can support individuals and families with. If you know of somebody living in Stockport, who you feel would benefit from a short-term loan of a device or data, you can fill in this form and refer them to the Device Library or call us on 07537 127095. 

If you could spare some time to volunteer as a Digital Champion or if you have skills to help us with data removal and software/hardware support, we’d love to hear from you too. Please email or phone me on 07537 127095.

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