- New Digital Inclusion Network will bring city region organisations together in push to support more people on-line
- Digital inclusion brings a host of benefits including access to job and training opportunities and finance, health and entertainment services
- Combined Authority providing additional funding worth £2.5m to support digital inclusion
- Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “We’re creating what I hope will be a better-connected future.”
Mayor Steve Rotheram has launched a new Digital Inclusion Network for the Liverpool City Region, bringing together a wide range of public, private and community sector organisations committed to helping people across the area get online and provide them with the support needed to engage in a modern digital life.
Digital inclusion brings a host of benefits, including communicating with friends and family, volunteering, finding work or changing jobs, gaining skills and education, seeking government support, and accessing financial, health, entertainment, goods, and other services, including timely information during emergencies.
The Digital Inclusion Network brings together organisations from across the Liverpool City Region who have a role to play in ensuring everyone has the access, skills and confidence to get online and use digital technology.
The network is key to delivering Mayor Rotheram’s ambition to make the Liverpool City Region the most digitally connected area in the country, having already invested in LCR Connect – the region’s new 212km full-fibre, ultrafast, gigabit-capable network.
LCR Connect is a joint venture, 50% publicly owned by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, that will give the region the fastest internet speeds in the country.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:
“Any successful, modern city region requires modern and thriving infrastructure and, since I was elected Mayor, I’ve been on a mission to make our region the most digitally connected anywhere in the country.
“It isn’t just a means of generating economic growth for our region – but a duty to our residents to properly connect them up with this 21st century necessity. The last few years have accelerated the move towards a more digital world and proved how important connectivity and technology will be in all of our lives.
“However, there are still too many people who are digitally excluded for a variety of reasons – and struggle to navigate through the digital world. But it’s no good building the fastest network in the country if our residents aren’t able to take advantage. Through programmes like our Digital Inclusion Network, and the millions of pounds we’re investing in infrastructure like LCR Connect, we’re creating what I hope will be a better-connected future that everyone in our region can benefit from.”
The network has been created by a digital inclusion taskforce, made up of public, private and community sector organisations across the Liverpool City Region, convened and facilitated by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
The new network’s core goals are: building a coordinated and connected digital inclusion ecosystem across the region; supporting organisations to deliver digital inclusion activities in a sustainable way; increasing awareness and understanding of the digital inclusion agenda and helping influence system-level change across the city region.
Councillor Paul Stuart, Portfolio Holder for Digital and Innovation, said:
“We are determined to ensure that no-one in our city region finds themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. So many aspects of the modern world can only be accessed digitally that not being able to get on-line means people missing out on a host of opportunities. That’s why we’re working so hard with our partners to encourage businesses and organisations to do all they can to put digital inclusion at the heart of their activities. I’d encourage all businesses and organisations to join the Digital Inclusion Network and sign our Digital Inclusion Pledge.”
Membership of the Digital Inclusion Network is free. Organisations who join up must agree to support its core aims and sign the Liverpool City Region digital inclusion pledge, which involves:
- Supporting digital inclusion activities in the Liverpool City Region
- Sharing best practice to other network members
- Supporting their staff to learn essential digital skills
- Supporting others needing help to get online
- Donating any retired digital kit where this is appropriate
In exchange, members are invited to bi-monthly meetings of the network where they can learn more about current and upcoming digital inclusion activity across the region, have opportunities to take part in delivery initiatives and engage with additional support for digital champions.
The network forms part of a wider programme of activity relating to both digital inclusion and digital connectivity within the Combined Authority. This includes £2.4m from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, providing £880,000 of continuation funding for the successful Include IT Mersey Programme, which has already supported over 2,100 people to learn digital skills and get online, and a £1.5m grants programme to improve digital connectivity in community facilities.
A separate £140,000 LCR Cares Digital Inclusion Fund was recently launched, offering grants to support digital skills development for local residents who face additional social and economic barriers.
A new set of resources, including an interactive map of digital support services, has also been developed and can be found on www.helpingyouonline.co.uk