Stockport DigiFest 2024 concluded with ‘DigiKnow: Leaping Across the Digital Divide’, a digital inclusion seminar for more than 100 stakeholders and DigiKnow network partners which fostered wider collaborations across the business, health, voluntary and community sectors. More about the event.

Councillor Jilly Julian, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources at Stockport Council, opened the event.

I’m genuinely delighted to be part of a movement that is key to the progress and prosperity of our fantastic borough: digital inclusion.

In an age where technology permeates every facet of our lives, ensuring that every member of our community has access to and can effectively use digital resources is not just a matter of convenience; it’s a fundamental prerequisite for social equity, economic growth, and community development.

Stockport, like many other regions, is undergoing a rapid transformation. Digital tools and platforms have revolutionised how we communicate, learn, work, and interact with our surroundings. They’ve opened up boundless opportunities for innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration.

However, these opportunities remain out of reach for far too many due to barriers to both digital access and the confidence to jump into this new world. The digital divide persists, creating disparities in education, employment, healthcare, and civic engagement.

Without adequate access to technology and the skills and confidence to navigate the digital landscape, individuals risk being left behind in an increasingly interconnected and digital-centric world. This impacts health outcomes, financial management and social engagement, hampers personal growth and economic prospects and hinders our borough’s overall progress and competitiveness.

But let’s not dwell solely on the challenges; let’s focus instead on the immense potential in our grasp. As we heard at the seminar, by prioritising digital inclusion, we can unlock opportunities for all residents of Stockport to thrive in the digital age. We can honour our Fair and Inclusive imperative, empowering individuals and communities to fully participate in the digital economy and society, and experience better outcomes.

Digital inclusion is not merely about providing access to technology but about fostering digital literacy, skills development, and empowerment. It is about ensuring that everyone, regardless of age, background, or circumstance, has the knowledge and confidence to harness the transformative power of technology to improve their lives and contribute to the collective prosperity of our borough.

Fortunately, Stockport’s digital inclusion programme DigiKnow, which has been running since 2018, has an inspirational network of partners across Stockport. Numerous organisations, businesses, and community groups are dedicated to promoting digital inclusion and bridging the digital divide. I want to share my thanks to every single one! 

Together, we can leverage our collective resources, expertise, and passion to create a more inclusive and equitable digital ecosystem. I know that we can. Just ask any of the 53,000+ Stockport residents who have been supported by Digiknow so far.

As we look to the future, let’s commit ourselves to the noble cause of digital inclusion. Let’s keep working tirelessly to remove barriers, expand access, and empower every resident of Stockport to embrace the opportunities of the digital age. By doing that, we not only fulfil our moral imperative to ensure no one is left behind but also lay the foundation for a healthier, more vibrant, resilient, and prosperous borough for generations to come.

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