Communities and services taking a collaborative approach to bridging the digital divide in North Manchester

Digital exclusion and digital poverty have a huge impact on a person’s life chances. Somebody who is digitally excluded is more likely to pay more money for basic services and be less likely to be able to access some of the essential services that keep us all well

In parts of North Manchester, this is particularly evident where, in some areas, the uptake of the NHS app is around 36% compared to 52% nationally and the life expectancy for a male is approximately 8 years less in Harpurhey than the national average.

In order to combat digital exclusion in this area a partnership of like-minded people has been brought together. The group is made up of members from Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, North Manchester Community Partnership, Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board, Harpurhey Primary Care Network, Northwards Housing and Manchester City Council.

Assited Digital Support – No93 Centre

The scheme offers participants hot drinks and refreshments along with access to digital devices and free internet connections.

Residents and patients can be referred to the scheme by the local PCN or simply call into 93 Wellbeing centre for more information.

Staff and volunteers from North Manchester Community Partnership support people that attend the sessions using the Learn My Way webpage but as each participant is different the sessions are tailored to the individuals’ needs. The Learn My Way website contains over 30 free courses which range from the very basics of turning a device on to  the NHS app,  making video calls and so much more.

John Curtin, manager at North Manchester Community Partnership has told us that close to 100 people have attended the sessions. The group is improving their basic i.t knowledge and In partnership with Good Things Foundation, NMCP have been able to gift tablets with 6 months of data to people in the group who previously had no device to access the internet as well as SIM cards through the national databank gifting free data, unlimited minutes and texts. 

The sessions have also been a huge success for the services involved, Paisley Williams (PCN Development Manager) said “The initiative has provided a fantastic opportunity for patients to connect to their local General Practices, local support networks and voluntary, community and social enterprise sector support groups. By being more digitally connected our patients can access the NHS App for general health related tasks such as using online symptom checkers and ordering repeat prescriptions which has proved an invaluable resource for local residents.

Visitors to the centre can also find additional support to manage their general health and wellbeing through a variety of groups and a community café.

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