The Scottish Government has set up a £5 million programme to connect digitally excluded people to the internet during the response to coronavirus.
Named Connecting Scotland, it will offer an internet connection, training and support, and a laptop or tablet to approximately 9,000 people who are not already online and considered at clinically high risk.
This will enable them to access services and support and connect with friends and family during the pandemic.
Those who take part in the programme will be paired with a ‘digital champion’ to support them for six months while they get connected and find the information they need.
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “Access to the internet is a real lifeline during these difficult times, so we want to support people to get online and stay connected through this project.
“The advice is clear that we need to stay at home, but for those shielding and in a high risk group, and not online, we know this is difficult and can increase isolation and loneliness at a time they already feel vulnerable and might be missing other support.
“The internet helps us to keep in touch with friends and family and is an important way to find information on support services during this challenging time.”
Local government role
Local authorities and the third sector will lead on identifying people to receive devices, distributing them and providing training and support.
Connecting Scotland has been developed with local authorities, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and the digital and IT sectors led by ScotlandIS. It is also supported by Microsoft, Leidos, the Data Lab, Accenture and Gartner.
In advance of the roll out of the main programme, SCVO trialled the approach with Glasgow Disability Alliance and Govan Housing Association tenants.
Picture: Cotchobee, CC 3.0 through Wikimedia