Secondary Care

Greater Manchester launches pilot to address digital poverty for care leavers

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has launched a new pilot supporting care leavers in Salford, by encouraging them to get online.

The pilot is now live to support 40 care leavers, containing a package of support that will include free devices through Salford Council, free data for 12 months and digital skills training to build their online confidence.

Through research from the Authority, they found that of 3900 care leavers aged 17-25 years old, they estimated they are all excluded from the different digital benefits in some way.

In May 2021, HTN reported on the region’s plans to become one of the first to equip all under-25s, over 75s and people with disabilities with the relevant online skills.

In addition to that ambition, the Mayor created a Digital Inclusion Action Network to bring together a cross sector of organisations to lead action in digital exclusion within Greater Manchester, and this pilot is one of the first.

Mayor Andy Burnham said: “I’m delighted to launch this pilot supporting care leavers with the skills, kit and connectivity needed to get online and benefit the digital world.

“We know that young people leaving care are in particular need of support which is why we have launched this vital pilot, as an outcome of our wider digital inclusion agenda, to ensure these young people are not left behind and can benefit from the same opportunities as their peers.

“The time has come where we need to see digital connectivity and the ability to participate digitally as a basic human right. Without it, people are shut out of the conversation, lose access to essential services, risk becoming increasingly socially isolated, and miss out on a range of opportunities including education and work.”

After the pilot phase in Salford, GMCA’s plans are to work with organisations and professionals from all 10 local authorities to roll out the support programme to all care leavers in Greater Manchester.

The pilot will be delivered as a partnership between Salford City Council, GMCA, Good Things Foundation, Salford Foundation and Virgin Media O2.

For more on Greater Manchester Combined Authority digital exclusion plans, read here.