The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just claimed lives. For people who can’t use digital to communicate, to shop and to manage their everyday lives, it has also stolen their independence. Get Online Week hopes to change that.
Get Online Week, held annually since 2010, is organised by Good Things Foundation and this year runs from 19th – 25th October. It’s the UK’s biggest digital inclusion campaign, mobilising grassroots organisations to reach more people with digital skills support and raising the profile of digital exclusion as an issue of national importance.
Get Online Week is usually a week-long, annual celebration, with thousands of events taking place in communities across the UK, however, this year’s campaign is a little bit different. With the country still responding to the coronavirus pandemic, organisations cannot hold events in public venues.
Here in Stockport, Get Online week is coordinated by the Digital Inclusion Alliance partners. These ‘DigiKnow’ partners have put together a range of free virtual events for Stockport residents who are online but who aren’t very confident using the internet, to help them improve their digital skills and make the most of the internet. A full list of virtual Get Online Week events in Stockport is available on our Events calendar.
While for residents who aren’t yet online because of lack of access to the internet, we are promoting the DigiKnow Device Library and Helpline. To refer someone in need of a device please use the referral form or call the Helpline on 07537 127095.
Stockport’s Digital Inclusion Alliance
Stockport Digital Inclusion Alliance was established In April 2018. It’s an alliance of partners from all sectors who bring different expertise and resources to help more people in Stockport become confident, independent users of the internet. During Covid-19, this ‘DigiKnow’ Alliance has been finding ways to continue providing services that reach and support vulnerable people in greatest need. With face-to-face sessions no longer possible, Starting Point, the community lead for DigiKnow, set up a Helpline open to individuals and voluntary sector organisations who need help in reaching their clients remotely. They trained Digital Champions to provide telephone and video support to help residents both individually and via Zoom group sessions.
While libraries and places with public Wi-Fi were closed, many residents lost access to the internet, so the Alliance provided devices and data to hundreds of Stockport residents, through projects supported by the Department for Education, the DevicesDotNow scheme, 02 and Stockport Council funds.
In July, Stockport Local Fund awarded almost £10,000 to Starting Point to set up the digital device library, offering free to borrow tablets and laptops to residents who have no way to access the internet. Many come with free data packages and all come with help from Digital Champions to get online and stay safe online.
Join the DigiKnow movement
We are looking for more partners to join our Digital Inclusion Alliance and ensure the programme has the biggest impact it can, both now and in the future. Any individual, business, organisation or group who wants to help to tackle digital exclusion in Stockport can join.
We want to recruit as many community groups as possible including:
- social/interest groups – could you build digital support into your regular activities?
- groups set up to offer aid or help to people in crisis – could you build digital skills support into your regular mission and reduce repeat visits?
- groups who have been set up to provide digital skills support, however informal
If you would like to join the partner network please complete and return the Join the DigiKnow movement form.
We’re extremely grateful to the community Digital Champions who help residents to get online and we are always looking for more people to get involved with this important work. There are lots of ways to help residents with their digital skills, from signposting them to the DigiKnow Helpline, to supporting them more directly. If you could spare some time to help people, please call the DigiKnow Helpline on 07537 127095. You don’t need to be technical as they’ll give you the skills to support learners, you just need good communication skills, patience and a willingness to help others get online.
Our Digital Lending Library needs a continuous funding stream as devices will need replacing over time and data is perishable. If your business could donate devices or data, or if you could provide specialist volunteers for software/hardware/data removal support, please email Starting Point or call the DigiKnow Helpline on 07537 127095.
Read the next article about DigiKnow.