Salford plans community digital skills push

Plans include network of community venues for support, recruitment of ‘digital champions’ and two new websites

Salford City Council has announced a programme to build up digital skills in the community and launched two new websites as part of a campaign to raise the local level of digital engagement.

Salford Town HallIt plans to work with the Good Things Foundation to help an estimated 8,000 of its residents, including elderly people and those who are homeless, in using digital technology and the internet.

The programme, which the council has funded to the tune of £180,000, involves building a network of community venues for face-to-face support, and the recruitment of volunteer ‘digital champions’ from local residents.

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “We want to be the first city in the UK where everyone benefits from the digital revolution – everything from internet access and all the benefits that can bring to using data or technology to keep people independent in their own homes or create new products or services.”

He added: We want to work with private sector partners to explore digital access. We already provide free internet access in our libraries but can we team up to go further and provide low or no cost internet access to residents in other ways? It’s about finding the barriers and getting around them.”

Companies already involved in the programme include Barclays, Lloyds Bank and TalkTalk.

Local websites

In recent days the council has also unveiled the two websites, MyCity Salford and My CityHealth, developed with funding of £160,000.

MyCity Salford provides the scope for people to create their own online communities by posting details of events and local groups, sharing views and creating an online marketplace.

A spokesperson for the council said: “One of the ideas behind it is that we have a lot of ‘Friends of’ and community groups but not a lot of linkage between them. We hope the site will enable them to link up with each other.”

The site uses a moderation system under which any posts that prompt two complaints are removed and placed in a queue for checking by a council employee. It also filters out any swearing.

MyCity Health provides information, advice and dedicated support to help people stay healthy in the city.

In addition, the council will invest £100,000 over the next four years upgrading all IT in its libraries, which already provide free IT and internet access.

Image: Salford Town Hall by Jhamez84, public domain through Wikimedia