Smallbridge residents set for digital skills boost

Date published: 12 November 2023

Local residents in Smallbridge will be amongst the first in Greater Manchester to take advantage of a new social value commitment between Greater Manchester Combined Authority and private sector partners Virgin Media O2 and Cisco.

Six free drop-in digital skills workshops have been arranged with local housing provider RBH at their Stevenson Square tenant base. The workshops will be held every Friday from 11am until 12 noon, starting on Friday 10 November and running until Friday 15 December. The sessions are free to attend with no appointment needed - residents can just drop-in and improve their knowledge of all things digital, including email, apps, websites, and social media.

These workshops will use the free Virgin Media O2 connectivity, technology donated by Cisco, and skills support provided by both Virgin Media O2 and Cisco. Free connectivity has been installed at the base as part of a pioneering social value agreement, part of a wider contract with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to deliver the Greater Manchester One Network (GM One Network), providing faster and more resilient connectivity to up to 1,500 public sites across Greater Manchester.

Smallbridge was selected to receive this digital support due to its involvement in the Ageing In Place Pathfinder – a GMCA-led programme working to ensure that the voices of people in mid and later life are heard and valued in the places that they live. Smallbridge is one of nine Pathfinder neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester that will benefit from locally created action plans designed to improve older residents' quality of life.

Becky Earl, an RBH age friendly advisor, said: "We're excited to be one of the first beneficiaries of the support from the Combined Authority, Virgin Media O2, and Cisco. The new connectivity at Stevenson Square will be a great benefit to all residents in Smallbridge and in particular it will allow us to provide support to get older residents online. We hope to see as many residents as possible at our drop-in workshops."

Councillor Nick Peel, GMCA portfolio lead for digital, said: "We’re ensuring Greater Manchester has the digital infrastructure needed to be a world class digital city-region. To achieve this, we’re drawing on our relationships with private sector partners to achieve strong social value outcomes of real benefit to our people across the region. Like in Smallbridge where connectivity from Virgin Media O2, via our GM One Network programme, has been installed free of charge, for five years. This, along with upcoming social value commitments from Cisco around digital skills and connectivity, will be of real benefit to local people."

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