Getting creative at Stockport DigiFest helps residents develop new digital skills

Stockport’s DigiFest Festival, which took place in February, featured over 70 workshops, activities, and sessions as part of Stockport’s year as GM Town of Culture.

Getting creative at Stockport DigiFest helps residents develop new digital skills

Highlights over the month included podcast workshops, VR headset experiences, digital video and photography, hackathons, and making a robot chicken!

The month of activities attracted people from across the generations and the borough, and culminated on Thursday, 29 February, with a digital inclusion seminar that explored opportunities for digital to create a healthier Stockport and the need for digital work skills.

Town of Culture themes celebrated over the month:

  • Makes: digital creativity and making in all its forms, including opportunities to try making digital music, video games and animations, and get online inspiration for knitting, crafting and cooking
  • Sounds: promoting music and the spoken word with podcast workshops, digioki (online karaoke), making laser-blaster sounds, finding out how sound waves work and gaining music streaming skills
  • Moves: promoting opportunities to be active, including learning to use digital pedometers and fitness apps, finding fitness sessions online and QR code-based treasure hunts
  • Tastes: promoting food and drink in Stockport with food scanners, online recipes, healthy eating ideas and learning how to order food deliveries online

Councillor Jilly Julian, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, says: “The internet has revolutionised how we live, learn, and work, opening up boundless opportunities for people with digital skills. But it can seem scary for those without the confidence to jump into this new world. By getting creative with digital during Stockport DigiFest, we’ve appealed to people of all ages and interests, tempting residents with fun activities to develop new digital skills to benefit them in their wider lives.”

Residents attending events found support and helpful encouragement to develop their confidence using online technology. Here are some of the comments we received about activities:

“This was a wonderful digitally inclusive experience for all ages. Our visitors and volunteers loved it. Some drifted around the International Space Station and others took a ride on a roller coaster! Our less mobile visitors could have a go as well. We are very grateful to the team at Autisk for leading the virtual reality experience.” Friendly Fridays at Rose Walker Community Centre.

“The range and diverse experiences of young people who attended was great, and the project allowed us to connect with many who are interested in improving their digital skills. The event unearthed some great talent and gave those interested in a digital career a chance to show off their skills to industry experts and form useful connections for future endeavours.” Beth Nunn, CEO of PIE: Pursuing Individual Excellence.

“Adding a digital skills programme during DigiFest allowed the women involved to gain new skills and make new connections. In our experience, everything is about confidence and connection first and learning later. Our women now know other DigiKnow partners offering digital skills support and should feel more comfortable visiting some of their spaces in the future.” Simone Callaghan, Director, The Goodness Collective CIC.

"Our attendees loved the themed sessions, said Nicola Wallace Dean, CEO, Starting Point Community Learning Partnership. ‘I really, really want to do this! I've got loads of photos, and this looks brilliant!’ said Agnes at the MAKES photo book session, where we spent time sorting where her photos were stored so she could access them easily. ‘I used to referee football when I was younger. I didn't know they (Life Leisure) did Walking Football; I'll look into that.’ said Keith after exploring fitness sessions online in the MOVES session."

People enjoying MadLab sessions: “I learned how to move sculptures for a movie and not include your hands!” (child) “This was my first experience taking part in a hackathon. It was a lovely and fun memorable experience for me. Most importantly I met new people and learnt new things from them. It gave me more confidence and motivation.”

Anyone who wants support with digital should call the DigiKnow Helpline at 07724 217888, visit the DigiKnow web-pages or drop into your local library.

DigiKnow is a collaboration between Stockport Council and partners to help Stockport residents to get online and develop their digital confidence. It is managed by Stockport Council and delivered by Starting Point Community Learning Partnership, working alongside various local, regional and national organisations, who provide free community classes, drop-in support sessions, device and data loans, and a device recycling scheme. This collaboration was a finalist for the Substantial Impact Award at last week’s iNetwork Awards.

Stockport will be marking the end of the town’s Greater Manchester Town of Culture status with over 50 events and activities taking place over the weekend of 23 and 24 March at the Town of Culture Weekender. More details on the newsroom.