The internet is increasingly becoming the main way people access job opportunities, benefits and even prescriptions and healthcare appointments. This has especially been the case during COVID-19 as libraries, universities, schools and job centres were closed to the public.
Unfortunately, access to the internet is still seen as a luxury and a privilege. This leads to many people not being able to get online and therefore not being digitally included. Some people are struggling to meet their essential needs and access important information, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But access to the internet is a necessity. It is a gateway for people to access and enjoy their human rights to education, work, social security and housing, amongst others. During the COVID-19 lock-down it has been the way for many to connect with friends and family, to get much needed emotional support and to take part in community life.
It is time to change the narrative around digital inclusion. It is time to promote access to the internet as an essential part of everyday life.
Together we can change the narrative. Together we can become Better ConNEcted.
We recognise that culture change can take a long time, and so we're keen to generate practical solutions, getting more people in the North East online and accessing the things they need now.
We are calling on businesses in the North East to donate funding or new data-enabled equipment via the Better ConNEcted campaign for a specific community or group in the North East. By ring-fencing donations for the North East you will be helping local people to be digitally included.
For a complete description of the process from donation to distribution, please click here.
If you are a NE business and you want to help, contact email@example.com.
If you are a community group that needs help accessing equipment and data, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local authorities have a duty and responsibility to improve the well-being of their residents. They must also meet their international human rights obligations.
We want to work with North East local authorities to increase their commitment to promoting digital inclusion in their areas. We are starting by presenting a council motion and briefing to all 12 local councils (July 2020). The motion calls upon councils and mayors to:
Promote and support efforts to improve digital inclusion in their areas
Ensure digital inclusion is a priority across all council departments and committees, updating existing policies and practices to reflect this
Work with local groups/organisations to improve digital inclusion, especially in relation to the design and delivery of services
We want those with disabilities to enjoy equal access to the internet.
We want to support local businesses and organisations to improve their disability accessibility. This includes making sure websites are compatible with screen readers and offering online information in easy-read formats.
Currently, we are sourcing funding to be able to provide training to North East businesses on online disability access.
For more information about accessibility software and resources please see our Help & Support page.
Watch this space!