"Getting on line is more important now than ever before" Kate Gallant, chair of Go ON Worcestershire, speaking at the Go ON Worcestershire digital inclusion conference
Go ON Worcestershire, the partnership formed to help people use the internet held its first ever conference.
Over 115 people from organisations and partners were brought together at Worcester County Cricket Club on Monday, February 6, to raise awareness of the issues faced by people not online or digital exclusion in Worcestershire and the best practices to tackle this.
The event included a number of speakers and a range of workshops to provide information, skills and resources for those working in frontline services within public sector, charities and voluntary sector.
In Worcestershire there are around 49,000 people currently not online. This means they are not able to get information or access services, are unable to take advantage of the convenience of online shopping nor connect to others via social networks. As well as these benefits, getting online can help alleviate loneliness and isolation, by helping people stay in touch from their homes.
Go ON Worcestershire has increased the opportunity for people to get online, through their Digital Connectors, who are employed in each district by local partners to increase the number of volunteers, Digital Champions. Together they support people, either one to one or in groups to get online.
So far, by the end of 2016, nearly 5000 people have been helped to get online by the project.
There are many barriers to getting online; perceived difficulty, costs and commonly security. To help inform our Digital Champions and partners, guest speaker Deputy PCC Tracey Onslow spoke on cyber security and what is being done locally to help people stay safe online. To reinforce this message, the event was held in the week of Safer Internet Day 2017.
Kate Gallant, chair of Go ON Worcestershire said: "It's really important to support people getting on line because knowledge is power and our knowledge is now being digitised at a faster rate than any could have predicted. What we all jointly recognise is that helping people to get online is essential in today's modern world, accessing services but also in breaking down isolation, especially amongst our older generations."
Cllr John Smith, Cabinet member for Health and Well-being added: "I was very happy to be invited to this event which has brought together so many people to talk about the Go ON Worcestershire partnership. It is essential to make sure Worcestershire is a place where everyone has the opportunity to get the support they need to get online confidently."
The events included the presentation of four awards for good practice, presented to Jim Lea from Cookley Village Hall Internet Café; Mark Pickering, Neighbours online, Broadway; Marion Keynon, New Starts, Bromsgrove; Emma Able, Redditch Youth and Community Enterprise.