Nicola Wallace Dean, Co-founder of Starting Point Community Learning Partnership, the community lead for the DigiKnow movement, introduces the latest report produced by the social enterprise.

We are delighted to look back on the achievements of DigiKnow over, what can only be described as, a challenging time for all. The DigiKnow Device Library report that we have just published covers the period from July 2020 to the end of January 2021. 

In the days pre-Covid, when our focus was on supporting people to learn digital skills, we had highlighted a need to support people who couldn’t afford to buy their own laptop or tablet. With funding from the Stockport Local Fund, we were able to buy 20 devices to launch our small-scale library. 

One worldwide pandemic later, we now have 307 devices loaned out to people throughout the borough and so far, have received 2,423 calls into the DigiKnow helpline (set up as a response to lockdown in the summer).

Infographic showing key aspects from the report

As with every part of life, what we planned for the last few months and what actually happened is vastly different. Lockdown has exacerbated the issue of digital poverty and in particular the affordability of broadband data when home-schooling, looking for jobs or keeping in touch with family. 

There is a need for long term solutions and it is great to see this being addressed nationally with campaigns like Operation WiFi, but for now, during a period of unprecedented change and demand, the DigiKnow Device Library has been able to support those who needed it the most to stay in contact during a time of distancing.

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