The second phase of Connecting Scotland will support 23,000 low income households to utilise the internet and gain key digital skills
Tens of thousands of families across the country are set to receive a technology boost.
Around 23,000 low income households without proper internet access will be helped to get online with the assistance of £15 million of Scottish Government funding.
The investment, part of the Connecting Scotland programme, will prioritise disadvantaged families with children and young people leaving care. These families will get a device, 12 months of unlimited internet data, and technical support to get online safely and securely.
Households will also be linked with a digital champion who will provide six months of training and support over the phone. Suitable recipients will be identified by local authorities and third sector organisations who apply to the programme on behalf of those they support.
Connecting Scotland is delivered in partnership with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and local authorities in collaboration with a broad range of local, public and third sector organisations.
This second phase of the programme builds on an initial £5m investment to get up to 9,000 households with people at clinical or high risk from Covid-19 connected online.
Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: “It has never been more important to be connected and online. It enables us to access information about how to stay safe and healthy during Covid-19, keep in touch with friends and family, and study or work.
“I am therefore very pleased to be able to extend our Connecting Scotland programme and tackle the digital divide by reaching over 30,000 households across both phases that are experiencing difficulties with online access.
“An additional £15 million will help thousands of families and young care leavers who could not otherwise afford to get online, making sure they are not further disadvantaged by providing the necessary hardware, data, and skills they need to get connected.
“This builds on £25m investment in devices and connectivity which will support around 70,000 school pupils.”
David McNeill, SCVO director of development, said: “The first phase of Connecting Scotland has made a significant difference to the lives of thousands of people who were missing out on the benefits of being online. It has enabled them to stay connected to friends and family, informed and entertained, and able to continue with learning and work.
“This additional investment will enable hundreds of organisations from across the public and third sectors to provide support to those who need it most, removing the barriers related to the affordability of kit and connectivity, as well as helping to build digital confidence and skills.”
Mary Glasgow, chief executive of Children 1st, said: “Children 1st were delighted to take part in the first phase of the Connecting Scotland programme to help families without access to IT to cope through coronavirus. Good digital access is essential to keeping both children and parents connected to education, their friends and families and to wider support from charities like Children 1st during these extremely difficult times. It’s great to see the programme being rolled out to reach even more families.”