Bath Digital Divide Collective
Through 2023, a number of organisations in Bath have come together to collectively look at addressing digital poverty in Bath, with a working title of the "Bath Digital Divide Collective".
We designed a number of events during the Bath Digital Festival in July 2023 to understand and raise awareness of digital poverty in Bath. Several events focused on addressing the digital divide in Bath, from mapping the challenge to prototyping solutions and advocating for action. Find out more at https://techforgoodsw.org.uk/digital-divide.
You’re far less likely to have access to the online world if you’re living on a low income. In fact, the lower your income the less likely it is. That means – increasingly so – not having access to the fundamentals of life. From social security, to healthcare, education and training, to finding work and applying for jobs – critical services are more and more online.
So digital inclusion is no longer something that’s ‘nice to have’ – it’s an essential. And being cut off from digital isn’t just an inconvenience – it compounds and exacerbates poverty. That’s no longer something we can ignore if we’re interested in a just society. (Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA)).
In May 2023 the DPA launched the National Delivery Plan, which “outlines an initial roadmap for ending digital poverty by 2030”.
Mission Six of that plan is “Increase local capacity to provide joined-up digital inclusion support to individuals and communities”; while we now have a national plan that aims to fix this issue in our society, it is on us locally in the tech sector to step up and play a part in acting on and delivering the outcomes of that plan.
The Situation in Bath
Bath is included in the affectionately coined “Silicon Gorge” (Wikipedia, 2019) which describes our region’s high density of technology expertise and innovation. Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) is ranked in the 2019 Indices of Deprivation as one of the 20% most affluent areas in the country (BANES, 2022).
However this average measure disguises the fact that Whiteway and Twerton West are among the 10% most deprived areas in England. In Twerton, 35% of children live in poverty (BANES, 2019) and the cost of living crisis is expected to result in 4,000 more people in BANES entering poverty in 2023 (BANES, 2022). 52% of people surveyed in BANES complained about their broadband connection (BANES, 2022).As employment requires more digital skills, and access to key services moves towards digitisation, these statistics indicate a significant likelihood of persistent exclusion for many of Bath’s citizens.
Bath Digital Divide Collective
The newly formed Bath Digital Divide Collective is comprised of representation across the following founding members, of course welcoming a much wider community to address our city-wide challenge:
BCS Digital Divide BCS Bristol & Bath Branch
Digital Poverty Alliance
Future Ambition Board - Connectivity Working Group, and Opportunity for All Group
Tech for Good South West
St Johns Foundation
We received a Magic Little Grant through the partnership between Localgiving and Postcode Local Trust. Postcode Local Trust is a grant-giving charity funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Localgiving is the UK’s leading membership and support network for local charities and community groups. Our project received £500 to support our Digital Divide events.