Digital on Your Doorstep launches with a wow

Staffordshire University invites local residents to explore exciting digital facilities on campus and boost their digital skills

A boy wearing a VR headset and holding controllers

Shelton residents got hands on with digital technologies on campus

Improving digital skills, reducing the digital divide, and improving social mobility, both inclusively and accessibly are key objectives.

Liz Crump, Digital Enterprise Manager

Digital on Your Doorstep aims to help improve digital accessibility within Stoke-on-Trent and provide people with the confidence to use digital technologies which are on their doorstep.

The launch of the series saw an action-packed afternoon, as members of The Shelton Community partook in a variety of workshops, from drone flying and virtual reality to 3D printing and scanning.

An IT Support desk was available throughout the afternoon, for anyone who might have questions about using apps on their mobile phones, staying safe when using the Internet, or any other general queries related to digital technologies.

There were also opportunities to learn about grant applications for digital access within the home, as well as being able to explore current job vacancies at the University.

The initiative has been created by Digital Services at the University and Digital Enterprise Manager Liz Crump, who organised the event. She explained: “Improving digital skills, reducing the digital divide, and improving social mobility, both inclusively and accessibly are key objectives.

“Hopefully, this will give people in the Stoke-on-Trent area the confidence to visit the University and realise that the opportunity to access higher education for them, their friends and families is literally on their doorstep.”

Staffordshire University is also leading the Discover project in partnership with VAST and 10 other organisations, which is funded by the Government’s Community Renewal Fund, to help boost digital inclusion. It builds on recent research by Stoke-on-Trent’s Collaborative Network which identified that digital exclusion affects different people in different ways. Using national data and local knowledge, the project has identified three priority groups: young people, parents, and older people. Discover will identify their specific needs to provide tailored support—including access to equipment and connectivity, digital skills, and online safety— matching people with the programmes best suited to them.

Nic Gratton, Associate Professor of Civic and Community Engagement at Staffordshire University, said: “Digital on Your Doorstep is just the first step in a long-term relationship with our Shelton Community. Staffordshire University is all about trying to engage with local communities, to benefit them in terms of accessing University equipment and develop skills, but it is also about us being able to make a difference in our place, in our city and in our region.”

Hifsa Saddiq, a member of The Shelton Community Partnership added: “I wanted my kids to see what is available at the University, how things work and for them to participate. They would not just get that opportunity to use and test things like that at home.

“We need to raise aspirations. The world is your oyster, and you can have these opportunities and these opportunities are on your doorstep.”

If you would like to discover more about Digital on Your Doorstep, please contact Digital-connects@staffs.ac.uk

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