Rochdale Digital Tech Library goes from strength to strength

Date published: 15 December 2020

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, a group of grassroots voluntary organisations, in collaboration with Action Together in Rochdale, came together to do something about the digital poverty and exclusion that they witnessed in their communities.  

This group of voluntary organisations didn’t just talk about it, they did something about it. They decided to form a consortium with a signed partnership agreement to get funding to purchase digital equipment to loan to people in need in their communities. 

The partnership is made up of organisations that work at the grassroots within their communities of interest including: older people, young people and families, women and families from Black and South Asian communities, refugees and asylum seekers and people living with mental health issues across the borough of Rochdale.

Since its launch, the Digital Tech Library has gone on to secure more funding to purchase even more new equipment to loan out.

The next phase, with support from Public Health and Rochdale Borough Housing funding, is to upscale the Digital Tech Library. By working in partnership with Rochdale Council’s library service, the consortium will be able to expand its offer to reach more people. This includes having some digital devices for loan in the libraries that are currently open across the borough, which will enable people to access free wi-fi and support to get online.

Living Well is part of the consortium and offers the support of Digital Champion volunteers to help people get online. HMR Circle’s Digital Project Coordinator works specifically with older people in independent living schemes to offer one-to-one support. Additional support for people who are disabled has been offered by the Disability Forum and RADDAG through their peer support project. 

Along with new equipment, the Digital Tech Library is organising some Repair Workshops to repair and refurbish digital devices including laptops, printers, games consoles and old mobile phones that have kindly been donated through the ‘Winter in Rochdale’ appeal.

The Repair Workshops are being held in community venues and facilitated by Heritage Hackers who support people to fix, make and re-use things.

Rochdale Council’s Work, Health and Skills team has supported the consortium from the beginning and is fully supportive of the new community-based learning Repair Workshops where people can develop, learn from each other and upskill themselves. 

Suzanne Vincent, Partnerships Co-ordinator at Action Together in Rochdale, commented: “For me, one of the best things about this consortium is that it brings together different grassroots voluntary organisations who wouldn’t necessarily have worked together before. Working in partnership with others, they are actively making a difference in tackling the digital divide experienced by people in local communities.” 

If you know someone who needs a digital device and support to get online, referrals to the Digital Tech Library will open in January 2021 through completion of a referral form to the Digital Co-ordinator. 

If anyone would like to donate any good condition digital equipment, then please email to arrange collection.

To make a financial contribution to the Digital Tech Library to enable the consortium to purchase more new devices for loan, click here

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