Digital inclusion plans launched by Salford City Council

Salford City Council has announced a digital revolution to transform the city – and that it will be working with a charity to help it achieve its ambitions

Austin Clark | 11th Jan 18

Salford City Council has announced a digital revolution to transform the city – and that it will be working with a charity to help it achieve its ambitions.

It plans to spend the next two years helping 8,000 of its residents – from elderly people to those who are homeless – to become confident using digital technology and the internet.

And it is working with Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital and social inclusion charity, and private sector partners including Barclays, Lloyds Bank and TalkTalk to achieve this.

The programme will build a network of community venues in the city that will deliver face-to-face, informal support to help people grow their digital skills and confidence.

And it will look to recruit volunteer Digital Champions. These will be residents who are keen to support others to use technology.

Salford City Council unveiled its plans – which also includes two brand new websites to be ‘owned’ by the local community – at a showcase event at The Landing on Thursday 11 January.

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “Salford is a city of firsts. We pioneered the industrial revolution with the country’s first canal, colliery, gas street lighting, free park and public library.

“Now the aim is to provide a forum where people can communicate with each other, business and services to build a closer community.

“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.

“We want to give people skills and confidence to use mobiles, tablets, computers, apps and the internet to do things that make day to day living easier – such as finding good jobs, paying bills, saving money by finding cheaper deals, staying connected with family, friends and the community and even getting information to manage their health or get involved in issues of the day.

“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 round them.”


Community in charge

Part of the plan includes the launch of two brand new websites designed to put the community in charge of content.

MyCity Salford is for people who live and work in the city where they can not only find news, information and events but create their own online community by posting details of events, local groups, sharing views and creating an online marketplace.

My CityHealth compliments that by providing information, advice and dedicated support to help people stay fit and healthy in a city which has major health issues.

Helen Milner, Chief Executive at Good things Foundation said: “We’re delighted to be playing a part in this landmark project in Salford, and over the next two years we’ll be helping almost 8,000 of Salford’s most excluded residents to transform their lives using digital.

“Currently, 24% of adults in Salford lack basic digital skills, and so the DigitalYou project will have a major impact on reducing this number, and ensuring excluded people can realise the benefits of technology. We’ll be working with partners within our Online Centres Network, the wider community and private sector partners including Lloyds Banking Group and TalkTalk to reach excluded residents, and we know many more partners will have an important role to play.”

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. And it is the first local authority in the country to team up with Barclays to train 200 council staff as Digital Eagles to help colleagues improve their digital skills.