Covid-19 has laid bare the true extent of digital exclusion amongst local residents and communities across the borough. Surveys conducted by Wandsworth Digital partners, during the first lockdown, revealed a lack of devices, data, money, skills and confidence to fully access ‘virtual’ and vital community services, e.g., foodbanks, Covid food provision, Council services and GPs, pharmacies and other NHS support, as well as online banking and shopping.
Cut off from the plethora of online services and support local residents could have reached has led to a decline in health and wellbeing for many and an increase in mental health issues, isolation, loneliness and poverty. Without intervention, the digital divide will further widen the socio-economic gulf between those who are digitally engaged and those who are excluded and disconnected. It is estimated that 36,000 households in Wandsworth are digitally excluded (about 28% of local households).
Digital inclusion is about ensuring the benefits of the internet and digital technologies are available to everyone. Getting online is usually life-enhancing and it can be life-changing.
Digging beneath the surface locally there is already a lot of digital work underway. Wandsworth Digital is connecting what is already happening locally.
We are calling up all political parties to make Digital a key part of their manifestos for the coming local elections in May. And, then to commit to work together after the elections to make Wandsworth a truly digitally inclusive borough.
Our vision is for Wandsworth to be a truly digitally inclusive borough by 2024. A place where residents can access digital opportunities to engage with services, stay connected, and enhance their lives.
By end-2024 we want our most excluded residents to:
Priority 1. Devices: access, affordable devices for all
Priority 2. Connectivity: accessible, affordable Wi-Fi for all
Priority 3. Training & Support: incorporate ‘digital’ into everyday lives
To find out more about Wandsworth Digital contact Aaron Barbour on [email protected]