Newly-formed Rochdale Digital Consortium formed to tackle digital poverty

Date published: 28 August 2020

The Voluntary, Community, Social, Faith and Enterprise (VCSFE) sector partners in Rochdale have created a consortium and purchased 20 tablets to be loaned to service users to address the issue of digital poverty.

Following the outbreak of the pandemic, charities, community interest companies, community and faith groups had to adapt their way of working quickly and move services online.

However, this highlighted a massive issue in relation to the exclusion of many, as they simply did not have the equipment required to access the services that were then only available online.

Digital poverty is a lack of access to ICT equipment, putting people who require online connections and services at a disadvantage.

Having highlighted a shared problem, the partners, in collaboration with Action Together, were determined to address this issue and formed the Rochdale Digital Consortium.

Rochdale Connections Trust (RCT) took on the mantle as lead partner and submitted an application on behalf of the group for funding to purchase digital equipment. This application was successful, and the consortium has been able to purchase 20 tablets which are loaned out to service-users who need them via a library system.

Bev Place, Business Development Manager at RCT, said: “The formation of the consortium was in response to the frustrations of all partner organisations who were desperate to maintain service delivery with their clients but who discovered that digital poverty was making inclusion impossible.

“There was a shared passion to come together and to do what was needed to help alleviate this problem, which had been highlighted very quickly following lockdown. The consortium consists of a range of organisations who have brought different skills. knowledge and offers to the partnership and who are all equally committed to working with those in our communities who need interventions now more than ever.

“We have taken the first step in setting up a digital library with digital equipment such as tablets that can now be loaned out, but we are now working to enhance this offer by increasing resources and expanding the software content, so that it is accessible to all communities living in our borough.”

The consortium partners consist of Rochdale Connections Trust, HMR Circle, Cartwheel Arts, Awakening Minds, The Nigerian Association, Bridging Communities, Bowlee Community Association, Healthwatch, Caring and Sharing and Rochdale and District Mind, supported in their endeavours to bring technology to all residents who need it by Action Together and the Work and Skills Team at Rochdale Council.

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