More than 3,000 people to be helped to ‘get online’

A national charter fund which aims to help socially excluded people to ‘get online’ has received its latest funding boost.

The Digital Participation Charter Fund will support a range of projects across Scotland in order to help over 3,000 people with their digital skills.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (SCVO), in partnership with the Scottish Government and BT, has been delivering the Digital Participation Charter Fund over the past five years, supporting 169 projects across Scotland to get people online and develop essential digital skills during this time.

SCVO recently welcomed 19 new organisations from across the country – all of whom are to be funded under the seventh round of the Charter Fund – to a learning and networking hosted by Three Discovery in Glasgow.

As with previous rounds of Charter funding, these organisations are being funded to support working age people to increase their financial capability, employment and other economic outcomes; or support older and/or disabled people to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

The Charter Fund has already invested nearly £1.5 million pounds to support projects working with over 20,000 people. Under this new round of funding a further 3,323 are projected to be guided through digital skills training using the Essential Digital Skills Checklist.

Sally Dyson, Head of Digital Participation at SCVO, said: “We are delighted to once again partner with the Scottish Government and BT to deliver this funding opportunity. The Digital Participation Charter Fund gives organisations the opportunity to embrace new approaches and embed digital skills as a mechanism for engaging some of the most socially excluded members of our society.

“We’ve seen some really innovative projects from previous rounds, learning a great deal about different ways of engaging people in digital, and we look forward to working closely with our new Charter Fund recipients over the next year to continue this learning.”

Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for Public Finance & Digital Economy, said: “The Scottish Government is very pleased to continue to work in partnership with SCVO for round seven of the Digital Participation Charter Fund.

“Having supported 169 local projects across Scotland to date, the support this fantastic initiative provides to community projects across sectors is invaluable, and has enabled over 20,000 people to develop and build on essential digital skills.

“The achievements of the Digital Participation Charter Fund tie in with the Scottish Government’s vision to stimulate innovation and promote Scotland’s digital industries, and I look forward to seeing continuous growth in this sector.”

The Broomhouse Centre in Edinburgh is one of the organisations to benefit from round seven of the fund, receiving support for their Dementia Friendly Digital Skills project. Open three times a week, the Centre’s ‘Beacon Club’ aims to improve the quality of life for dementia suffers – what is often a socially isolating condition – as well as helping them to continue to live in their own homes for as long as possible. Charter Fund investment will enable them to develop group-based and individual programmes to help participants to gain key essential digital skills and empower them to find their own solutions.

Bridie Ashrowan, CEO of the Broomhouse Centre, said: ‘The Broomhouse Centre, soon to re-open a new £3.2m community hub, in Edinburgh, an area of high socio economic deprivation, is one of the organisations to benefit from round seven of the fund, receiving support for their Dementia Friendly Digital Skills project.

“Open four days a week, the ‘Beacon Club’ is unique in its tailored, person centred service which aims to improve the quality of life for people with dementia by including them in culture, in games and many more social activities, including eating a freshly cooked nutritious lunch together with volunteers. Dementia is often a socially isolating condition – as well as helping them to continue to live in their own homes for as long as possible. This fund will enable us to try something innovative and share our learning with others. Most members and carers come with no knowledge of how to use the internet, yet volunteers and staff would love to share skills and resources that can be taken home. WE will be working in partnership with Create Digital Skills to learn from their experience.

“Charter Fund investment will enable the Beacon Club, at the new hub to develop group-based and individual programmes to help participants, people with early and later dementia, and their carers, to gain key essential digital skills and empower them to find their own solutions. It will help them to continue to find sources of joy, such as music or sports they have loved, and other on-line resources and it helps people to live in the moment in a fulfilling and happier way.”

Other successful applicants for Round 7 include The Marie Trust; Lightburn Elderly Association Project; Peebles CAN; Aberdeen Foyer, Forres Area Community Trust; The Advisory Group; Roma Life CIC; Cyrenians; LEAD Scotland; Community Led Action & Support; Alive & Kicking SCIO; Hanover HA; Rosemount Lifelong Learning; West of Scotland Regional Equality Council; Barrhead HA; The Broomhouse Centre; Williamsburgh HA; Let’s Get Sporty Community Trust; WHALE Arts Agency.