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Greater Manchester to help under-25s, over-75s and disabled people online


Andy Burnham, who was re-elected as Greater Manchester’s mayor earlier this month, has confirmed plans to help get people in the city region online

A new digital inclusion access network will focus on an estimated 93,000 over-75s, 77,000 disabled people and 1,300 under-25s who do not use the internet regularly. It aims to equip locals in these groups with skills, connectivity and technology both to help individuals and also businesses seeking digitally-skilled staff. This builds on measures announced last year including a digital inclusion taskforce which involves local government, community groups and industry.

“We have all seen more of our lives move online and this risks excluding those who do not have digital connectivity,” said Burnham. “The time is coming where we need to see digital connectivity as a basic human right. Without it, people will be shut out of the conversation, lose access to essential services and miss out on a whole range of opportunities.”

Burnham had pledged to introduce plans to help all under-25s and over-75s online in his manifesto for the mayoralty. In this, he said that the older group could be helped through the setting up of a ‘reverse mentoring’ scheme involving young volunteers.

Analysis by the University of Liverpool and the Good Things Foundation suggests that as many as 1.2 million of the city region’s 2.6 million people may be excluded from some digital opportunities.

“Being digitally included is not just about having a connection. Access to broadband, affordability, a lack of data, lack of skills, lack of confidence, lack of exposure to technology at work, or disabilities can all lead to people being disconnected from our digital society what has become known this year as ‘digital poverty’,” said Simeon Yates, professor of digital culture at the University of Liverpool. “By working with under-25s, over-75s and disabled people this Greater Manchester initiative will address those most at risk of digital poverty.”


Image iStock: monkeybusinessimages

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