A brand new Digital Inclusion Referral Map has launched, providing a comprehensive, interactive list of the places where people can find support to safely and reliably connect to the internet across Derbyshire.
Created by Digital Support Derbyshire - part of Rural Action Derbyshire - and Citizens Online, the Referral Map spans from Glossop to Swadlincote and shows the libraries, community venues and village halls that enable residents to get online cheaply and easily.
It is hoped the project will help referral agencies, community organisations and the general public to discover the breadth and depth of digital inclusion support currently available across the county.
While being connected to the digital world is a given for most of us, many in rural areas still lack access to reliable, affordable broadband connections. In fact, as many as 62,000 people in Derbyshire have still never used the internet, according to Citizens Online.
In an increasingly virtual society, these people risk missing out on communicating with friends and family, accessing vital services, and discovering training and employment opportunities. This is especially the case after COVID, which caused “more services to move online and become ‘digital by default’”, Citizens Online adds.
This is what makes the work of Digital Support Derbyshire, and its network of digital inclusion partners, so important. Getting people online can lead to better life experience and opportunities to work, train and socialise, and the Digital Support Derbyshire Network is committed to tackling the barriers that lead to digital exclusion, by collaborating on awareness raising, community activities, training and information sessions.
Jo Peck, Project Coordinator, said: “I am very excited to announce that the Derbyshire Digital Inclusion Referral Map is now uploaded on the Rural Action Derbyshire website, together with downloadable spreadsheets detailing the digital inclusion support currently available across the county.
“We hope that the map and associated information will be a useful tool for the general public and referral agencies looking for digital inclusion support. Hopefully it will also enable digital projects within the network to connect more easily.”
The Referral Map is just the next step in Digital Support Derbyshire’s mission to improve access to the internet, affordable devices and digital skills support across the county. This will also include increasing the number of paid and volunteer Digital Champions within the county: these individuals are invaluable in supporting others to become more interested, confident and skilled at accessing the digital services, platforms and information that matter to them.
The establishment of the Digital Support Derbyshire Network has connected 44 digital inclusion ‘offers’ across Derbyshire, and has over 190 individuals on its network list - people committed to contributing in some way, big or small, to tackling the Digital Divide in Derbyshire.
It has also supplied digital devices to five community pantries, as well as volunteer training resources to support with benefits checks, drafting CVs, job searches and getting access to online banking.
The next Digital Support Derbyshire Network meeting will take place on Thursday 2nd March, 10am, with a focus on developing a better understanding of digital poverty in Derbyshire’s rural areas, and the challenges of supporting these communities with inclusion activities. Anyone interested in doing more to support those with limited digital skills is welcome to attend.
For more information, please contact Jo Peck on 01629 592970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.