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Monday, 20 November

Spark Somerset win national digital inclusion award

Image showing, from left to right, Krystian Heald, Samantha Briggs, and Helen Milner, holding a large charity cheque.

We’re very proud to announce that Spark Somerset has won the 2023 ISPA Digital Inclusion award.

The Spark iT digital inclusion initiative, which has helped over 2,000 local residents to get online, was one of four national projects shortlisted for the award, which recognises the best-efforts to bridge the digital divide and help people stay or become connected.

Samantha Briggs, Digital Inclusion Project Manager at Spark Somerset, comments:

We’re thrilled and very proud that our Spark iT project been recognised as the winner of the Digital Inclusion Award category by ISPA UK.

Since the project’s inception in 2021, we have expanded our one-to-one visits, telephone helpdesk and loan scheme, and quadrupled our volunteer numbers allowing us to go from supporting two regular digital inclusion events to twenty.

Working in partnership with dozens of incredible organisations, we are close to providing 95% of residents with a regular digital support event within five miles of their home – not an easy feat in our rural areas!

We want to congratulate the other finalists, who are all doing an amazing job to bridge the digital divide in their counties and express our gratitude to all our volunteers and partner organisations who made the win possible.

The award comes with a £2,000 grant fund which Spark Somerset will use to further extend initiatives to close the digital divide.

Speaking about her experience, Sally, who attends the Digital Café at the Hub in Bridgwater, said:

It has reduced a lot of the stress I felt when using devices. I’ve recently been working on building my confidence with online shopping as I noticed that I was missing out on the best deals. With the cost-of-living crisis, it’s been really helpful for me to find new ways to save money.

The Spark iT project is managed by Spark Somerset and supported by the Somerset ICB, Somerset

NHS Foundation, and Smart Energy GB and delivery partners including organisations such as Donate IT, Vodafone UK, Good Things Foundation, Somerset Libraries, and the Somerset ICB Digital Team.

Allison Nation, Associate Director of Digital Strategy, Directorate of Strategy, Digital and Integration at NHS Somerset said:

This is such well-deserved recognition for the team who have worked tirelessly to champion the importance of digital inclusion and provide people and communities with such valuable support. The work being done at a local community level to create connections and build skills and confidence is a vital part of helping people in Somerset to live healthier and better-connected lives.

If you know anyone who needs help to get online or improve their skills and confidence using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, or if you want to establish a digital café in your community, our Spark iT digital inclusion team can help.

Find out more. (LINK TBC)