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.

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."

Sue - Digital learning and reverse mentoring

Meet Sue and Liz...

While self-isolating during the pandemic, Sue was keen to use her iPad to catch up on her favourite documentaries and get in contact with friends abroad.

But there was a problem. She found herself locked out of her email account and unable to reset her Apple ID. That’s when a friend referred her to our fabulous TechMates team.

With the help of her new buddy Liz , Sue was quickly back online exploring what the digital world had to offer.

Sue’s not been the only one to learn a thing or two either...

After discovering they shared a number of interests such as art, nature and horticulture, together Sue and Liz unearthed online gardening tips and found out the best place to buy bird feed - while Liz learned all about Sue’s life and her knowledge of local artists!

Sue said: "From the start, it was more like being helped by a friend rather than trying to explain what I wanted to learn with a stranger. It made me feel so relaxed when we were talking about the things I needed to know about my iPad."

Liz said: “Sue’s really grown in confidence using her iPad. She now uses it to watch documentaries on YouTube, email friends and look up all sorts of information. We regularly keep in touch with updates - not only about the digital skills she has learned but also about her life and hobbies.”

Sue’s experience of the TechMates project has also recently been featured in the GM Doing Digital in Later Life guide.

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 me...you 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.

© Wigan Council