UK digital skills charity Go ON UK chaired by Martha Lane Fox joined forces with Croydon Council today to launch an exciting new project to help arm local people with the digital skills they need to make the most of new technology.
Martha Lane Fox was in Croydon to unveil plans to run a 12 month pilot project to help residents and businesses boost their basic digital skills – such as communicating, finding information and carrying out transactions safely online.
The first of its kind in London, the Go ON Croydon project will target everyone in the borough including those most in need of support such as the homeless, families in poverty, the elderly, NEETs and small and micro businesses.
Croydon also unveiled the UK’s first Go ON digital zone. Based in the council’s Access Croydon, it will provide help and support to people taking their first steps online or building confidence in using a smartphone, tablet or laptop to improve their skills.
Go ON Croydon will see digital zones pop up in a variety of places across the borough to help residents benefit from the opportunities of being online and to increase their independence, life chances and well-being.
Croydon will recruit digital champions; volunteers who are confident in using IT, but not necessarily experts, and who will use their digital know how to help others in the community and in the digital zones.
The project brings together national and local organisations including Age UK, Argos, Lloyds banking group and community groups, charities and volunteers, including Croydon Tech City, CVA and St Philip’s Church, Norbury, who will run projects in schools and the community.
Launching Go ON Croydon, Martha Lane Fox said there were 85,000 people in Croydon and 12.6 million across the UK who don’t have the basic digital skills to reap the benefits of the web such saving money, searching and applying for a job, finding family members or the simple enjoyment of keeping in touch or looking something up.
She said: “Having access to the internet and the power to use it in all the different ways is a fundamental right and we must work hard to make sure no one is left behind.”
One of the aims of the project, she added, was to replicate the work taking place in Croydon across the whole of the UK. She said: “I think that if we can make that first step in here in Croydon we can really make a massive leap across the whole of the UK – one small step for Croydon, one giant leap for the UK.”
Croydon Council leader, Tony Newman, said: “Croydon is on the verge of a digital revolution, we have the fastest growing tech cluster in London and lots of brilliant local organisations willing to share their skills and knowledge.
“It’s really important that no one gets left behind and that’s why we’re working with Go ON UK and local and national organisations to launch this vitally important project in our borough.
“We are committed to leading the way on digital and technological growth so that everyone living and working in Croydon is better connected to opportunities, services, communities and each other.
“Go ON Croydon gives everyone the chance to be included and to access the benefits that the internet has to offer. We will help our residents, businesses, voluntary and community groups get skills, get support and get connected.”
Rachel Neaman, CEO, Go ON UK, said: “While Croydon, as part of a major city, may perform well in terms of broadband infrastructure, it still has a large number of residents lacking the five Basic Digital Skills many of us take for granted, like applying for jobs, staying safe and transacting online. Croydon also has a vibrant digital sector and we want everyone in the borough to have the skills they need to take advantage of it.”