Londonderry Mayor Brenda Stevenson, has launched a campaign, in partnership with the CultureTECH Festival, to recruit 1,000 digital champions across the North West region.
The campaign has been developed in support of the Go ON NI initiative which seeks to address the lack of digital skills across Northern Ireland.
Over 50 community organisations have already signed up and are committed to recruiting in excess of 1,000 digital champions who will take part in a series of free training workshops during the CultureTECH week in September.
Digital champions volunteer their time to share their online skills with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours - helping approximately 5,000 more people get online in the process.
Today over 345,000 adults in Northern Ireland – just under a quarter – lack the basic online skills needed to send and receive email, use a search engine, browse the internet and complete online forms.
The aim of the programme is to deliver a 25 per cent reduction in the number of people below the basic online skills threshold in 12 months.
Derry City Council is also supporting the campaign and staff will be getting involved by volunteering to become Digital Champions.
The Mayor said: “This partnership approach will supercharge our existing digital activity making it easier for people to build their digital skills and confidence, with the aim of reducing the number of people offline.
“Our mission is to make this city the most digitally capable place in the world to help boost our economy and strengthen our communities. I would urge everyone in the public, private & voluntary sectors to play their part in tackling digital exclusion and join the campaign.”
Tristan Wilkinson, Acting CEO, Go ON UK added: “Our research has suggested that nearly a quarter of adults in Northern Ireland lack basic online skills - that means no emails to friends and family, no social media and no applying for jobs, booking tickets, or accessing government services.
“Go ON UK was established to help address these issues on a national scale and earlier this year we launched our Go ON NI campaign, the response to which has been fantastic.
“We are delighted to be working with CultureTECH and Derry City Council, and believe the formal signing of the Digital Skills Charter and the recruitment of 1,000 digital champions will put the city at the forefront of this nationwide effort.”
Connor Doherty from the CultureTECH Festival added: “We’ve been delighted to work alongside the Go ON NI team and the impressive list of supporters and partners they have developed in Northern Ireland.
“CultureTECH aims to connect the creative and cultural sectors with the technology sector and having the skills to access creative content online is fundamental to that.
“We’ve spoken to dozens of local community organisations from across the North-West and the response from them has been tremendous. Given the response so far we think the 1,000 digital champions we’ll be working with in September will be just the beginning of this campaign.
“Despite the initial response, all of the partners involved are still keen to hear from individuals and organisations interested in joining the campaign. Further information is available online at www.digitalskills.com and www.playdigichamp.com.”