How AbilityNet is helping Birmingham City Council to close the digital divide

AbilityNet is working with Birmingham City Council on a city-wide project designed to help close the digital divide, which Covid-19 brought into sharp focus.

We are one of 40 organisations enlisted by the City Council in an initiative designed to ensure that people across the city have access to tech equipment, network connectivity and skills that will help improve their lives notably developing careers and helping them to save money.

The initiative recognises that Covid-19 accelerated digital uptake. Notably, Birmingham has seen a faster rate of digital inclusion up from 88.6% (2018) to 91.4% (2019), according to a report by the City Council.

Digitally excluded citizens in Birmingham: a stark contrast

Image shows a tablet with the word connect on the screenThe number of digitally excluded people has reduced, according to the same report.

However, Birmingham City Council claims in its strategy document that these statistics are in stark contrast to the “reality and lived experience for Birmingham’s and the wider region’s vulnerable citizens,” a report added that: “There is a strong link between social and financial exclusion and digital exclusion and therefore, actions need to be designed to increase digital inclusion activities.”

Digitally excluded groups in Birmingham

Birmingham City Council specifically points to people aged over 65 who are more likely to be digitally excluded. In addition, 70% of people in Birmingham with a learning disability do not have access to a laptop, tablet, or PC.

A statement from the council said: “We can no longer accept that thousands of young people in Birmingham do not have access to the internet in their homes. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown made it clear that digital inclusion is no longer a ‘luxury’ – it is a basic requirement to succeed in modern society, with a significant impact on life chances.”

Skills and training for digitally excluded groups

Image shows the AbilityNet learning disabilities section of our website. There is a picture of a Rubik's cube on the screenAbilityNet is ideally placed to support people who do get access to technology.

The national charity’s mission is to promote a “digital world accessible to all,” and offers FREE support from a network of volunteers across the UK, and online.

Amy Low, service delivery director for AbilityNet said of the initiative:

“I am really excited by the collaborative approach taken by Birmingham City Council to pull together a comprehensive vision for digital inclusion in the city.

She added, “AbilityNet is keen to support this and would welcome discussions with any Birmingham based organisations wishing to connect their service users to our support options.”

Find out more about our FREE services or call our helpline 0800 048 7642

Supporting access to technology during Covid-19

AbilityNet has supported disabled and older people to use technology for over 20-years and has supported many of key initiatives during Covid-19.

Notably, we have supported people with learning disabilities and difficulties, helped the NHS deliver online mental health support to people affected by trauma, and supported the BAME Community in Basildon.

How AbilityNet can help

Related content