The Digital Poverty alliance was delighted to be recognised as ‘internet hero of the year’ at the ISPA internet industry and broadband awards. The award recognises organisations who have dedicated themselves to improving the UK’s digital connectivity landscape. The DPA was highlighted for bringing together digital inclusion initiatives across civil society and industry at a time of great demand and necessity. The judging panel also commended the Digital Poverty Alliance for benchmarking the scale of the digital poverty challenge and delivering targeted support programmes focussed on specific groups.
Chief Executive of the Learning Foundation and Digital Poverty Alliance, Paul Finnis, was delighted to accept the award on behalf of the DPA community. He congratulated fellow category finalists which included Broadband for the Rural North, StarLink and the Better Internet Dashboard.
A focus on digital poverty is critical at a time when so many people are struggling to afford everyday essentials due, in part, to an unprecedented cost of living crisis. Many people are unable to meet their basic needs, and this includes the ability to remain digitally connected. When we live and spend so much of our time online, the consequences of being offline are profound. This includes the ability to engage with friends and family but also to learn, find information and access essential services. The rapid digitalisation of society undoubtedly has huge benefits, but it can also leave some people on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Resultingly, the Digital Poverty Alliance continues to work in close collaboration with governments, employers and partners who are aiming to end digital poverty by 2030. There is still a long way to go, but it is heartening to see the level of support and commitment that so many individuals and organisations have towards the digital inclusion agenda.
The award round off a busy year which included the DPA releasing an evidence review into published research on digital poverty in the UK. The evidence review synthesised key research and insights and formed the basis for high level policy principles and recommendations to advance the digital inclusion agenda. Additionally, DPA has worked to bring together several innovative ‘proof of concept’ projects to better understand the impact that digital access can have on diverse cohorts of people. DPA has distributed 1,650 digital devices to staff and teachers in schools as part of its Tech4Teachers initiative. We are also working with Currys to help families access laptops through the Tech4Families project. And in collaboration with partners, we are supporting 25 young prison leavers to access and utilise technology thorough the Tech4PrisonLeavers programme.
Looking to the future, the DPA is drawing up a national delivery plan which will set out practical steps to meet our ambition to end digital poverty by 2030. The plan will provide a blueprint upon which government at local and national levels, community and charity groups, education providers and industry can come together under a shared vision for ending digital poverty at scale and at speed. The plan will be launched in 2023 and we are excited about the opportunities it will provide to work closely with our partners and supporters to achieve our shared ambitions.
Author: Tom Lowe, Head of Policy and Communications at the Digital Poverty Alliance