New tablet lending library opens up the world of digital to borough's residents

New tablet lending library opens up the world of digital to borough's residents

A new service to help those unable to access the internet has been launched by Wigan Council amid efforts to open up the world of technology to more residents.

From the start of December, local organisations and professionals will be able to refer digitally excluded adults to loan a tablet device with data free of charge.

After the pandemic shone a light on the isolation caused by digital exclusion, it is hoped that the new service will help residents to connect to the web and become more independent.

Councillor Nazia Rehman, cabinet portfolio holder for digital, said: “Having access to technology can be truly life-changing and so we are very excited to launch the council’s first tablet lending library.

“We know that cost can be a barrier to going digital and so we hope that this service, in which both the tablet loan and connectivity is free of charge, will really help those who participate to discover their digital potential, opening up a whole new world of opportunity to them.

“From Googling to booking doctor’s appointments and applying for jobs, this service is going to be a vital tool in helping people from a variety of different backgrounds to get connected.”

There is no set loan period for the tablets, but residents will receive a renewal reminder each month following their initial referral from a member organisation of the Council’s Digital Community Partnership.

Wigan Borough based organisations are encouraged to apply to borrow the tablets to support projects which help to combat loneliness, improve health and wellbeing and encourage creativity among those facing digital exclusion.

Alex Yoxall, activities and engagement officer at Think Ahead Stroke, a member of Wigan Council’s digital community partnership, added: “Here at Think Ahead, especially during the peak lockdown months, we saw first-hand the difficulties that some of the most vulnerable members of our community faced in trying to adapt to this world which is becoming rapidly more digital.

“This scheme will act as a reaching hand that will pull up the digital accessibility in the borough to the levels in needs to be.

“Alongside Digital Wigan’s TechMates scheme and online digital resources, there has never been a time that residents have had so much support to access these essential online areas.

“The foundations are now set for all of us to help to bridge the digital divide. We will certainly be championing this scheme within our charity and will look to use it to support vulnerable stroke survivors and carers.”

The tablets are all 4G enabled and the connectivity costs will be covered by the council.

Those accessing the tablet lending library can also learn more about going digital and receive technological support through the TechMates project.0

For more information, please visit Digital Wigan.

Posted on Tuesday 30th November 2021
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