A new awards scheme has launched to recognise the region’s tech savvy individuals and businesses that are helping to get more people online.
The people behind Go ON UK, the charity aiming to tackle Tyneside’s internet skills gap, is looking for applicants for their ‘I Made a Difference Awards’ which will be judged by radio DJ Lauren Laverne.
Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central, BBC Breakfast’s business reporter Steph McGovern and charity founder Baroness Martha Lane-Fox will also sit on the panel.
The awards open today with ten different sponsored categories and it is hoped as many people as possible will share their online success stories.
Go ON UK, which was established by Baroness Lane-Fox, aims to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation, In the UK one in five adults (21%) currently fall below the basic online skills threshold and 7 million of those remain offline.
In the North East, 24% of adults are missing out on the social and economic benefits the web has to offer.
Sending an email, using a search engine, browsing the internet and filling out online application forms are all still beyond the grasp of thousands of people on Tyneside.
Since October 2013, Go ON UK has been working with local authorities, communities and businesses in the North East region, to help ‘super charge’ existing local digital skills activity and deliver a 25% reduction in the number of people lacking basic skills in 12 months. The categories include a ‘Nominate a North East Martha’ which appoints one digital champion as the face of t Go ON North East.
There will also be a ‘Personal Impact’ award for those who have benefited from learning basic online skills. Prizes include iPads, connectivity deals, and laptops. The winners will also have a short film produced about their achievements.
Broadcaster Lauren Laverne, who is a judge of the I Made a Difference Awards, and Patron of Go ON North East, said basic online skills could be life-changing and were crucial for staying in touch with family. She said: “It’s these local digital champions who are key to helping us make the North East the UK’s most digitally skilled region and it is right that their work is acknowledged and celebrated.”
The I Made a Difference Awards are now open for nominations and can be entered at the www.digitalskills.com/awards . People can vote for their favourite story until Friday 28 February.