Over the past four years, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (SCVO) Digital Participation Charter Fund – supported by the Scottish Government and BT – has provided funding to 150 projects across Scotland to get people online and develop basic digital skills.
This week, Round 6 of the Charter Fund made awards of over £220,000 to 26 organisations from across the country, which work either to support working age people to increase financial capability, employment and other economic outcomes; or support older and disabled people to reduce social isolation and loneliness.
Scotland is already a ‘digital nation’, with eight in ten households having an internet connection, and six in ten people utilising smartphones. However research conducted by SCVO’s Digital Team recently, in conjunction with the University of the West of Scotland, showed that around 21 per cent of adults in Scotland still do not have basic digital skills.
SCVO’s Digital Director David McNeill said: “People that aren’t online and lack basic digital skills are more likely to face multiple other forms of social exclusion. It is crucial that we ensure no one is left behind in our increasingly digital world.
“Our research has shown that approaches to overcoming digital exclusion must be embedded in wider strategies to tackle social exclusion.
“The Charter Fund has enabled community projects to help more than 15,000 people who need support to access technology and the internet, complementing projects such as the Google Digital Garage Bus, as work continues to reduce the digital divide in Scotland.”
The latest organisations to benefit from the fund were revealed as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attended the launch of the Google Digital Garage Bus Tour in Glasgow.
The bus will be touring five days a week until the end of September with the aim of reaching over 50 locations, with Google working alongside organisations such as SCVO to build on existing projects to tackle digital exclusion.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Digital technology is connecting us faster than before and transforming the way we live which is why it’s crucial that everyone has the opportunity and support to keep up with the pace of change.
“By providing digital training to communities across the central belt, the Google Digital Garage bus will provide people with the skills and confidence they need to reach their potential while helping to grow Scotland’s economy.”
Parkhead Citizens Advice Bureau is one of the organisations to benefit from round six of the fund, receiving support for their Digi Aye project. The funding will be used to enhance the CAB’s regular drop-in service, with skilled digital champions supporting people to take the first steps online. Participants will also be signposted to additional help and support locally.
Liz Willis, CEO of Parkhead CAB, said: “Many of our clients are extremely vulnerable, and have little experience in using the internet. Our advisers provide a local and trusted service, and they are in a perfect position to help people seek advice to become independent and more confident online.”
Successful applicants: Midlothian Financial Inclusion Network; Community Food Initiatives North East; Argyll Lomond and the Islands Energy Agency; Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface; Atrium Homes; Deafblind Scotland; Ceartas; The Ridge SCIO; Thornliebank Parish Church; East Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau; Big Hearts Community Trust; Nari Kallyan Shangho Ltd; Linkliving Ltd; Mount Vernon Community Hall; Community Integrated Care; Parkhead Citizens Advice Bureau; Community Asset Project; Neighbourhood Networks In Scotland Limited; Crookston Community Group; Cassiltoun Housing Association; The Libertie Project Ltd; The Garve and District Development Company; Home-Start UK; Roar: Connections for Life; Rutherglen & Cambuslang Citizens Advice Bureau; Hope Amplified. Read about the projects.