Digital Wigan Stories

We are dedicated to supporting Wigan borough residents with access to devices, connectivity and digital learning.

Here are just some of the stories of how Wigan Council and the Digital Communities Partnership are tackling digital exclusion across the borough.

Super Sarah - Digital Community ChampionSuper Sarah Techmate

TechMates volunteer Sarah Platt loves helping residents like Marjorie with all things digital.

A stroke survivor with effects such as brain fog, she’s passionate about using her knowledge about the digital world to help others who are less tech savvy.

The former Microsoft employee has now been hosting weekly drop-in TechMate Tea Parties at Ashton Library for over a year.

Sarah said: “It’s very satisfying and it’s very good for me as well because I want to share what I’ve got in there at the minute - and then hopefully people will help me when I need it!”

“Internet safety is the biggest thing for me; I like knowing that people are safe online. There’s a lot of bad things out there and people who are vulnerable or new to the digital age need help to be safe.”

You don’t need to be a genius with computers to be a TechMate - and our Digital Wigan team will give you all the support you need to share your skills with those who need them.

“I’d highly recommend it, it’s so easy to do," said Sarah. "You don’t need to know everything; even if you know just a little bit about something that you’re passionate about it can take you miles!”

Shevington TechMates Tea Party – Digital Dynamic Duo!

Evelyn and Clive Techmate

Shevington is one of currently eight frequent TechMate Tea Parties that take place across Wigan and Leigh. Shevington Methodist Church is the venue for the session, and as a local resident hub – works as an excellent location to tackle digital exclusion at the heart of the community.

Mother and Son duo Evelyn and Clive never miss the fortnightly sessions, which take place alongside a fortnightly coffee morning, and attribute so much of their digital confidence to the TechMate Tea Party.

Evelyn said “ I’ve gone from strength to strength with it all and I am so grateful to the Council for the service. I now have a smartphone and know how to use WhatsApp, which means I can save money on a data contract as I have WIFI. I’d never have known how to do this before the TechMates!”

Clive added “We’ve been coming for about 12 months and we just love to join the group every single session. I’ve used the website LearnMyWay and with TechMate support learned so much, so I am thankful to the team for that!”

The group has become a pillar of digital peer support for local residents, with a friendly face and basic digital skill support always on offer – oh, and a brew of course!

Digital Wigan show Latics Community Trust a whole new ‘virtual’ world!

Watch this short video to find out what happened when our Digital Wigan team visited Wigan Athletic Community Trust's over 55’s Extra Time group, helped train their volunteers to be digital champions and introduced group members Betty and Carys to the wonders of virtual reality!

If you’d like to know more about the support our Digital Wigan team can offer your community group, please visit our Digital Communities Partnership webpage.

Changing lives for the better – Digital Wigan Device Bank

Louise with her Device packIn partnership with the Good Things Foundation, Digital Wigan have been lucky enough to be successful in yet another round of the Device Bank – a revolutionary digital inclusion offer which sees refurbished donated devices be gifted to digitally excluded residents. The devices range from tablets to laptops, and also come with a 40GB a month data voucher for up to 6 months and accompanying mobile WI-FI router. This in turn, delivered alongside our famous TechMates digital skill programme, hurdles the three main pillars of digital exclusion – access to skills, device and connectivity.

These devices bridge the digital and financial divide – giving access to top quality kit amongst a backdrop of wraparound support on how to best use the technology to increase skills and community engagement.

Louise, who collected her Device Bank pack at Wigan Town Hall, had this to say on the brilliant offer:

“I am very grateful to have been given a laptop, it will allow me to update my CV, which I have been wanting to do for a while.  I also have thousands of photos on my phone which are taking up space so now I'll be able to upload the photos onto my laptop to free up space on my phone.

Also the laptop will be used for any further studying that I do and to do research that my children need for their school work.

Stephen’s story

Stephen was referred to the Tablet Lending Library and TechMates scheme because he was keen to learn digital skills to help him gain employment and connect with family living abroad.

Find out how Wigan Council is helping Stephen to achieve his goals.

Appy Days with Happy Timers CIC

Happy Timers CIC, a member of the Digital Communities Partnership talks about what they are doing to tackle digital exclusion, and the importance of social inclusion to enrich lives.

Tiffany’s TechMate experience

Tiffany TechMate

Meet Tiffany, one of our TechMates, working with the residents around the borough helping them to get the digital support they require. Tiffany started volunteering with us during the pandemic helping people who were struggling to get online, access vital digital services and connect with their loved ones.

Why did you sign up to become a TechMate?

"I think mostly because during the pandemic, I was looking to do some sort of volunteering but everything was quite time consuming and overwhelming... I think TechMates provided a compromise as it allowed me to do it from home at times that suited feel like you’re making a big difference".

Did you feel like you needed to be a digital expert?

"No definitely not and I'm definitely not a digital expert. I have my moments, I think I've grown up with technology, if you want to find out a question, you google it and 9 times out of 10 it's the first one that comes up on Google. I think a lot of our older residents haven't grown up with technology and it's something so simple and easy to do like a click onto google or turning a tablet on. So i think that you don't necessarily have to be a technical whizz to sign up and help someone out..."

What do you like about being a TechMate?

"I think it is satisfying, I love solving a problem and the lady that I speak with the most is so grateful that I help her out and she does an excited squeal when we do something like proposing an email or installing a new app. I think the most rewarding thing is just to sit and make a difference and it only takes me a day a week to help and its completely changed her life".

Ben’s TechMate Experience

Ben TechMate

Ben started volunteering with us while he was still at school. He has spent the last two years supporting residents to learn basic digital skills. This summer, Ben was awarded the TechMates AQA qualification, and is now studying ICT at college.

What do you like about being a TechMate?

One thing I like about being a TechMate is helping the community to get online as lots of forms, services and information are now digital and need to be accessible for everyone.

What is the most challenging thing about being a TechMate?

One of the most challenging things about being a TechMate is that it can be difficult to explain to them where certain things are located on their devices over the phone.

What have you learned from being a TechMates?

I have developed better communication skills and more confidence.

How did working with the TechMates project help you?

TechMates really helped me with my college application and Duke of Edinburgh award, because it is unique, requires dedication and shows a good understanding of communication and IT skills.

Dorothy - Doing digital in lockdown

Dorothy being helped by a TechMates volunteer

"Being without my iPad was a big worry to me, I felt socially isolated and it was making me anxious. I'm lost without it as I find using FaceTime on my iPad allows me to lip read. When you live on your own, it's so important to have contact with the outside world, so I want to thank my TechMates Paul, Tracey and Sam. It was like my prayers were being answered. The help I've received and the understanding and kindness they've shown me has given me the confidence I thought I'd lost."

© Wigan Council