Funding will tackle social isolation by improving digital skills

An on-going project to combat isolation by improving the digital skills of Scots has won an additional funding award of £200,000.

The fund supports community programmes aimed at increasing digital skills. Picture PA
The fund supports community programmes aimed at increasing digital skills. Picture PA

Launched in 2014, the Digital Participation Charter Fund supports community efforts to offer practical training and advice to adults who, for whatever reason, may struggle to use the kind of technologies many now take for granted.

In 2016 the percentage of adults in Scotland using the internet for personal use was 83.4 per cent, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the previous year.

The fund provides small grants to help a range of organisations tackle poverty, social isolation and other forms of inequality in society through embedding basic digital skills development work in day-to-day activities.

The fund supports the work of the Scottish Government-backed Digital Participation Charter - a group of organisations which use their expertise to help people in the community, and their own workforce, to gain digital skills. Citizens Advice Scotland this week became the 500th signatory.

On Wednesday, culture secretary Fiona Hyslop visited The Welcoming, a charity in Edinburgh that has used resources from the fund to equip refugees with digital skills, to announce the latest grant award.

“The Scottish Government is committed to increasing digital participation and ensuring that everyone gets the opportunity to enjoy the social, cultural and economic benefits digital skills can bring,” she said.

“Our Digital Participation Charter Fund is a key part of that work. The funding I’m announcing today will be focussed on reducing isolation and loneliness and helping people get back into the world of work.

Citizens Advice Scotland trustee Karen Nailen said: “The Citizens Advice Bureau network can play an important role in supporting digital participation.

“We have a national reach: with almost 300 locations across Scotland, we help one in 14 adults every year - 34 per cent of whom have limited or no access to the internet.

“We also have more than 3,000 staff and volunteers and we want to ensure those individuals have the skills and confidence to support clients to get online.”