City council aims to equip 8,000 vulnerable and excluded people with basic digital skills
Salford City Council has announced a plan to get almost 8,000 vulnerable and digitally excluded residents online and confident about using technology within two years.
It said it is going to work with digital and social inclusion charity the Good Things Foundation, in what it claims is the most ambitious local authority digital inclusion plan so far.
The programme will involve an investment of £100,000 in upgrading the free IT in the council’s libraries over the next four years, the creation of a digital network of community centres, and a network of volunteers.
Deputy City Mayor Councillor Paula Boshell (pictured) said: “This is one of the biggest challenges we have ever undertaken as a council.
“We’re aiming to get some of the most socially excluded people online – everyone from older people who live alone and who have never used a computer to people who have no secure roof over their heads.
“If people can find sustainable jobs, save money and feel happier and healthier, the return on our investment in terms of saving money for public services will be huge – and part of the project will be to try and measure that impact on the local economy.”
She said the plan will include research into what barriers prevent people getting online and tackling those, partly through providing free technology in places where people go.
“We also want to look at helping people get lower cost technology in their own homes and recruiting volunteers to help them get the skills and confidence they need,” she said. We’re already working with Barclays Digital Eagles to train council staff to boost their IT skills and train colleagues and hope to work further with Barclays, TalkTalk, which is based in Salford, and Lloyds, partners of The Good Things Foundation.”
Almost 13% of Salford residents have said they have never been online compared to 7% of Londoners, while 24% in Salford do not have basic digital skills compared with 16% in the capital.
The council is also looking to work with private sector partners including Barclays, Salford based TalkTalk, and Lloyds, partners of Good Things Foundation, to provide access to low or even no cost broadband and devices.