Bridging the Digital Divide: Sunderland City Council’s Contribution to Get Online Week


31st October 2023

Topic Education, Insights, Living & Inclusion
Technology Light technology, Wi-Fi
Sector Education, Insights, Living & Inclusion

Last week, Sunderland City Council hosted a series of events as part of Good Things Foundation’s National Get Online Week. In a world increasingly connected through the internet, it’s vital that everyone has the opportunity to develop essential digital skills and access online resources.

Get Online Week is a national digital inclusion campaign led by The Good Things Foundation, a social change charity dedicated to helping people improve their lives through digital. Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 adults in the UK lack the most basic digital skills needed for everyday life, and over 1 in 14 households have no internet access at all?

In Sunderland, recent research indicates that 1 in 3 people are either experiencing or have experienced some form of digital exclusion. This exclusion can stem from various challenges, including limited broadband connectivity, lack of access to devices, cost barriers, insufficient digital skills, and a lack of motivation to use the internet. Distrust of online services, poorly designed websites, and digital services also play a significant role in keeping people from accessing the wealth of resources available online.

Sunderland City Council is committed to addressing these issues: so, for Get Online Week, our Smart City team hosted a series of free events that aimed to empower local residents with digital skills.

We hosted two Wonders of the Web sessions where attendees were given the opportunity to kickstart their digital journey. These beginner’s sessions guided participants on how to use Google for research and leisure, stay connected with family and friends online, and navigate the digital world safely.

Our team also organised two Money Saving Tips sessions, where participants gained valuable insights into using online money-saving tools and resources, such as Money Saving Expert and comparison websites. We also taught them how to shop safely in the digital marketplace.

With the libraries team, we delivered two sessions on BorrowBox and the Library App, offering a drop-in experience for attendees to explore how to access library resources online.

We also organised events exclusively for our internal colleagues to empower our own at the council. These included various tech support sessions at council sites across the city, in preparation for the launch of the Tech Mates programme, which will support council staff in getting online for the first time and improving their digital skills. Plus, we hosted a LinkedIn Lunch and Learn session, helping our colleagues learn how to optimise their LinkedIn profiles.

Our goal is to bridge the digital divide in Sunderland, ensuring that all residents are empowered to be a part of our Smart City through digital literacy and connectivity. If you’re interested in learning more about our digital inclusion work in Sunderland, you can read our Digital Inclusion Plan on the Sunderland City Council website or access additional digital inclusion resources on the Sunderland Smart City website. Together, we can build a more connected and inclusive Sunderland with no one and nowhere left behind.