DigiKnow Device Library improved the lives of over 300 Stockport residents

Since the DigiKnow Device Library was launched, many more residents are benefiting from being able to get online.

DigiKnow Device Library improved the lives of over 300 Stockport residents

During COVID-19, people without internet access have faced a range of difficulties, so Stockport’s DigiKnow Alliance have introduced a dedicated Helpline providing remote support to get online and a DigiKnow Device Library, with free to borrow devices and data. In the 7 months since launch, the library has loaned 307 devices and data packages to residents across Stockport, with 99% of recipients saying the DigiKnow Device Library support has had a positive impact on their lives.

Almost half (41%) of all loans were for people needing them for educational reasons, one in five were to help those accessing Universal Credit or applying for jobs and the rest were to help overcome different types of social exclusion, including loneliness and mental health problems as well as more practical support with ordering prescriptions and accessing health information:

Donna said: “I think this is a brilliant service for those that do not have computers. It has been a real life-saver in helping my daughter stay on track with her work. She wouldn’t have been able to keep up with her schoolwork if it wasn’t for the laptop especially with the introduction of online classes.”

James said: “Having a connection during lockdown has allowed me to start my own business. It has allowed me to keep everything going and store all my files in one place.”

Antonella said: “Staying at home without wi-fi would have been terrible. Me and my baby would not have been able to learn. With the amount we need the internet, we are desperate for a device and more data.”

Councillor Kate Butler, Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus and Engagement says: “The DigiKnow Device Library has already helped over 300 residents to do schoolwork, look for work and manage Universal Credit. It has also reached residents who were isolated from family and friends, combatting loneliness and improving their mental health. Most people are doing more and more online during the COVID-19 pandemic and we believe it’s vitally important that everyone has both access to the internet and the skills to use it. If you're not online yet, or you’re not very confident at using the internet, I urge you to give the DigiKnow Helpline a call: 07537 127 095.”

Take-up of the devices has been high. The initial devices were purchased with a grant from Stockport Local Fund, but extra devices have been donated by other digital inclusion initiatives. We have also linked up with Stockport recycling charity Community Computers to bring new devices to the pool, ensure existing stock is kept maintained and in working order and open a supply of low-cost devices for residents to buy.

Nicola Wallace-Dean from Starting Point says: “Being online means more than having a device and the skills to use it; people also need data. Many people are unable to access cheap broadband deals and can only get online using free Wi-Fi. During lockdown, when most buildings offering free Wi-Fi are closed, they have been using expensive pay-as-you-go mobile broadband, often at the expense of other vital services including fuel and food. We believe the long-term solution is to develop ideas such as data pooling and sharing of data limits, which is why we are throwing all our support behind #OperationWiFi, and we would urge as many people as possible to do the same.”

The provision of data is an ongoing challenge, but we have been able to offer data packages with over a third of the devices. Going forward it is our hope that new national data schemes will come to fruition and we are supporting the #OperationWiFi campaign which aims to find solutions to free and affordable Wi-Fi for those who need it the most. Register to be part of #OperationWiFi.

If you know someone who would like to get online, but doesn’t know how to get started, call the DigiKnow Helpline to help them take those first steps: 07537 127 095.