Whether it’s accessing your bank account, chatting to friends or family, or getting the supermarket shop delivered to your door, we’re living in an increasingly digital world. This is especially the case after the COVID pandemic, which, as Citizens Online puts it, caused “more services to move online and become ‘digital by default’”. In short, if you’re not connected, you’re missing out.  

Yet this remains the reality for many across rural Derbyshire. Poor access to reliable broadband and a lack of information on how to get started with technology continue to act as barriers to seizing the opportunities the virtual sphere can provide. In fact, as many as 62,000 residents in Derbyshire have still never used the internet.  

This is why we at Rural Action Derbyshire are stepping up our digital support, aiming to make sure no one in countryside communities is left behind. Through our Digital Support Derbyshire project, we are committed to reducing the county's Digital Divide. We recognise the value of being online, and want to ensure that everyone in the county has the opportunity to connect virtually. 

We are largely achieving this through our Digital Support Derbyshire Network, which has connected 44 digital inclusion 'offers' across Derbyshire, and has over 190 individuals on its list - people committed to contributing in some way, big or small, to tackling the Digital Divide in the county.  

We have also supplied digital devices to five community pantries, as well as training volunteers who can help with benefits checks, drafting CVs, job searches and getting access to online banking. 

Further to this, we have recently launched a Digital Inclusion Referral Map alongside Citizens Online, which provides a comprehensive, interactive list of the places where people can safely and reliably connect to the internet across Derbyshire.  

"I am very excited to announce that the Derbyshire Digital Inclusion Referral Map is now uploaded on the Rural Action Derbyshire website"

This map spans from Glossop to Swadlincote and shows the libraries, community venues and village halls that enable residents to get online cheaply and easily - making it simple for referral agencies, community organisations and the general public to discover the breadth and depth of digital inclusion support currently available across the county.  

Jo Peck, Project Coordinator, says: “I am very excited to announce that the Derbyshire Digital Inclusion Referral Map is now uploaded on the Rural Action Derbyshire website, together with downloadable spreadsheets detailing the digital inclusion support currently available across the county. 

“We hope that the map and associated information will be a useful tool for the general public and referral agencies looking for digital inclusion support. Hopefully it will also enable digital projects within the network to connect more easily.”  

If you know someone who needs help getting online, please feel free to use this helpful new tool to point them in the right direction. And if you’re wanting to have more of a hands-on role in tackling Derbyshire’s Digital Divide, why not volunteer yourself? You’ll join a network of passionate people and know that you’re making a real difference in your local community. 

Digital Support Derbyshire