Sunderland, United Kingdom

In an effort to combat digital exclusion, Sunderland has embarked on a transformative project to establish 22 Community Digital Health Hubs. These hubs are designed to address several key challenges, including limited internet connectivity, insufficient access to digital devices, lack of digital literacy, and the financial obstacles to engaging online. This initiative is pivotal in fostering a digitally inclusive community where everyone can benefit from the digital economy.

  • Location: Sunderland  

The UK Government, through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), has backed this ambitious project with a significant investment of £581,893, demonstrating a strong commitment to the Government’s Levelling Up agenda. This funding is instrumental in delivering doorstep digital services directly within communities, enabling individuals to embark on their digital journey, from acquiring basic online skills to thriving in the digital world.

A collaborative effort spearheaded by the Council’s Smart City Joint Venture, along with partnerships including Boldyn Networks, the British Esports Federation, and 22 trusted community organizations, the project is part of the wider "Links for Life" scheme. This scheme aims to empower Sunderland communities to enhance their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Key Statistics and Data:

  • Investment Amount: £581,893 from the UKSPF.
  • Number of Hubs: 22 Community Digital Health Hubs.
  • Digital Literacy in Sunderland: 1 in 3 people have never been online or lack basic digital skills.

Innovative Features and Community Support:

The hubs offer comprehensive digital support packages, ensuring residents have the necessary skills and equipment to access the internet. This includes:

  • Free Wi-Fi: Upgrade of Wi-Fi systems for better coverage.
  • Digital Devices: Budgets for each hub to purchase devices for residents' use.
  • Free Data: Provision of free SIM cards through a Databank system.
  • Tech Mates: Local volunteers trained to assist and share digital skills.
  • Boost Online Skills: Access to digital learning platforms and local training providers.
  • Device Donation Hubs: Partnership with Born Good for device donations and upcycling.
  • Community Esports Hubs: Introduction of gaming kits in collaboration with the British Esports Federation to foster educational and employment opportunities in the gaming industry.

Impact and Vision:

With an overarching goal of ensuring no resident or area is left behind in the digital age, Sunderland's initiative represents a crucial step towards eliminating digital exclusion. By providing tailored support and resources, the city aims to significantly improve digital inclusion, enabling all residents to participate fully in the digital world and reap its benefits. This comprehensive approach not only addresses immediate connectivity and access issues but also builds a foundation for sustainable digital literacy and engagement in Sunderland.