We're delighted to be working with Salford City Council to deliver a landmark digital inclusion project across the city.
Over two years we'll be helping almost 8,000 of Salford's most excluded residents to transform their lives using digital. This represents almost a third of the people across the city who don't have all five Basic Digital Skills.
Currently, 24% of adults in Salford lack basic digital skills. These people are likely to face social exclusion as well as digital exclusion. The programme will help them to improve their lives by using digital to take control of health and wellbeing online, searching for jobs online, benefiting from the financial savings available online and using Council digital services online.
The project is built on three principles:
- Targeting - on the most vulnerable, recognising that digital exclusion is both a contributor to and indicator of many forms of social exclusion, and that digital inclusion is a powerful way of driving wider social change.
- Harnessing community assets - digital inclusion works best through people, trust and communities, and the project will create a local movement that inspires and empowers community organisations to get involved.
- Sustainability - recognising that building digital into their social mission can help community organisations increase positive outcomes for those they help whilst becoming more efficient: but that this needs initial investment and support.
Focusing on areas of highest disadvantage, we'll be building a digital inclusion network of community organisations for Salford and working with them to create the capacity to help vulnerable and excluded residents improve their lives through digital.
To support this we'll be recruiting Salford Digital Champion volunteers from communities, the education system and private sector employers; and deploying a Salford Digital Ambassador to inspire and work with the community network. The project will be 'hands on', focusing on what it takes to make digital inclusion happen everywhere 'in a place'.
It's all part of a new cross-city initiative Salford Council will be launching later this year, driven by a vision of Salford as a truly digital city. Although this project will focus on those with the greatest needs, the Council will be making links into health, education and other sectors to ensure digital inclusion is visible everywhere and partners are connecting. At Good Things Foundation we'll also be working with our fantastic partners, including Lloyds Banking Group and TalkTalk to bring their contributions into the project too.
This breadth and depth in the project is critical. As well as being an issue of social justice, digital inclusion drives a range of important economic and social benefits that go across health, employment, education, housing and other services. By investing in digital inclusion and putting it everywhere, interweaving with other policies and programmes, these benefits can be realised more powerfully.
It's this combination of strategic thinking and decisive action that marks this project out. It's a fantastic commitment from a forward-thinking council, and we're looking forward to sharing our experiences with local public sector leaders across Greater Manchester and beyond as the project moves ahead.