Manchester City Council has launched a new initiative to help vulnerable residents to use digital technology during the coronavirus pandemic.
Residents who have internet access at home, but who are not able to use the web confidently, can now be offered one-to-one telephone advice and support, as part of the service provided by the council’s Community Response Hub.
Vulnerable residents are offered a call back, which is made by a volunteer with experience in providing digital support, from either Manchester City Council’s libraries service, Manchester Adult Education Service, Citizens Advice, or one of the city’s UK Online Centres. This can cover everything from the very basics, such as turning on and connecting a device and accessing the internet, before going on to look at benefits such as accessing information and advice about coronavirus and council services, shopping, booking GP appointments and filling in forms online, or connecting with friends and family via video conferencing.
The council has also partnered with the national #DevicesDotNow initiative to distribute 20 free tablets plus free data to vulnerable Manchester residents who had no internet access, with follow-on telephone support being offered to help them take advantage of the gift.
If you’re aware of someone who is vulnerable, has home access to the Internet, but would benefit from telephone support on how to use it, please email their details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Manchester Community Response Hub telephone number is 0800 234 6123 The Hub, which was set up to support Manchester’s most vulnerable people and help them cope with the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, has taken more than 12,000 calls since opening on 30 March.
Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “During the lockdown, many of us have relied on our computers or smartphones for a huge range of benefits every day, from keeping in touch with friends and family to ordering food and goods.
“Digital technology can be a massive practical help – but we know that not everyone can confidently use the internet.
“That’s why we’ve launched this new service, which will help people to stay connected with their loved ones, avoid feelings of isolation and access vital information and public services.”
If you are interested in further developing your digital skills, Manchester Adult Education Service are also offering one-to-one sessions to help you to do so. To join an online session for digital support, text 07307 810306 with your name and you will get a call back. Alternatively, go to www.manadulted.org.uk.