Listen to this article here
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has called on businesses and communities to back the city-region’s efforts to help disadvantaged residents get online.
The Mayor has launched the Greater Manchester Databank, part of the National Databank run by Good Things Foundation, alongside phase three of the GM Technology Fund, first established in 2020. The scheme aims to give free mobile connectivity to the most in-need in the city-region, using donated data from Virgin, O2, Vodafone and Three networks, as well as offering digital training and support. Community groups working with those who may be experiencing digital poverty are being invited to apply for access to the scheme.
Encouraging uptake of the support available through the National Databank across Greater Manchester will help ensure residents can access this data and connect to the internet for free, helping prevent residents on low incomes from becoming locked out of the opportunities that digital access brings such as the ability to apply for jobs, access health services and stay connected with friends and family.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said:
“The time has come where we need to see digital connectivity and the ability to participate digitally as a basic human right. The National Databank from Good Things Foundation will go a long way in helping us tackle the issue of digital poverty and supporting our residents to ensure they do not get left behind, so I’m pleased to be launching a drive for take up of this offer across Greater Manchester.”
Helen Milner OBE, Group CEO of social change charity Good Things Foundation said:
“The pandemic didn’t create the digital divide – but it did expose and exacerbate it. Fixing the digital divide is now an urgent priority.
“Building on the work of our Data Poverty Lab, we have, with Virgin Media O2, developed the pioneering National Databank, a world-leading ‘national food bank for connectivity data’, to help hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in communities across the UK to get connected. Community organisations can apply for access to the databank.
“We’re delighted to launch the databank in Greater Manchester, an area that is doing so much work to tackle digital exclusion and support disadvantaged families. Together, we can fix the digital divide – for good.”
The Greater Manchester Databank is part of the latest phase of the GM Tech Fund, which has so far supported over 3,500 city-region residents to get online, particularly supporting schoolchildren to access online learning resources. Businesses are being encouraged to continue to support the scheme with donations of new and used devices such as laptops, iPads and mobile phones.
In Stockport, support for disadvantaged people to get online is provided by the Council’s DigiKnow initiative, and includes a digital device lending library and training to help get started online. Businesses can also donate the unwanted tech to be refurbished and reused through DigiKnow partner, Community Computers.