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National recognition for Somerset-based digital inclusion project

Spark Somerset, the charity behind Spark iT, a digital inclusion initiative which has helped over 2,000 local residents to get online, has won the 2023 ISPA Digital Inclusion Award.

The award, supported by TP-Link and the Good Things Foundation, 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, said: “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 20.

“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.

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.”

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