Addressing the digital divide - Byrne Ave
Success Stories

Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide: Byrne Avenue – A Case Study of Community Empowerment

In an era where digital literacy and access to online resources are crucial for socio-economic participation, bridging the digital divide has become a goal for many communities. This case study highlights a project undertaken by Highstream to support Byrne Avenue Trust, a not-for-profit dedicated to rescuing, restoring and re-opening Byrne Avenue Baths, a beautiful Grade II listed building and significant social hub in the past. Built in Rock Ferry in 1933, the facility has latterly fallen into disrepair.  As part of a phased re-opening, the Trust wanted to provide Internet access to locals with limited resources.

Project Overview

On behalf of the Byrne Ave. team, Highstream embarked on a mission to enhance digital inclusion by sourcing, configuring, and installing six laptops within Byrne Avenue Baths.  These laptops are intended for an internet-cafe style setup, facilitating access to online services and resources for individuals who otherwise face barriers to internet connectivity.

Challenge – Address the Digital Divide

Wirral, like many regions, has pockets of communities where access to the internet is limited due to factors such as economic constraints or infrastructure gaps. This lack of connectivity poses challenges for individuals seeking to access essential online services, ranging from job applications to educational resources.

Approach

Byrne Avenue Trust and Highstream approached the project with a comprehensive strategy aimed at addressing these challenges.  Quality laptops were sourced, suitable for community use considering factors such as durability and performance. Configuration involved setting up secure internet access and installing essential software for web browsing and productivity.

Implementation

Once the laptops were procured and configured, Highstream worked closely with the Byrne Ave. team to provide a seamless installation.  The team deployed physical hardware locks and implemented secure overnight storage facilities to safeguard the laptops, ensuring their availability for community use over the long term. Additionally, the laptops were pre-connected to a secure Microsoft 365 environment, configured to ensure safe internet access by blocking unwanted website access wherever necessary.  Microsoft services have been provided via their Tech for Social Impact initiative.

Outcomes

The intended impact of the project is significant, to empower locals with newfound access to online resources and services. Individuals who previously faced barriers such as limited internet connectivity will now have access to a facility where they can conduct research, make inquiries, and submit applications online, opening doors to employment opportunities, educational advancement, and social engagement.

Support

Recognizing the importance of ongoing support, Highstream provided access to their IT support helpdesk for an extended period, to assist both staff and visitors with any technology-related issues. This commitment ensures that users feel supported and can fully utilize the resources provided, further enhancing the sustainability and impact of the project.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Byrne Avenue Trust project exemplifies the transformative power of community-driven initiatives in providing easily accessible facilities for the locality.  In particular, the Internet-café project shows how community and business can come together to help bridge the digital divide. By providing access to internet facilities, promoting digital literacy, and offering support, the project empowers individuals in this part of the country to overcome barriers and participate more fully in the digital age. As efforts continue to expand access to technology and build inclusive communities, groups like Byrne Avenue Trust foster empowerment and opportunity for all.