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Vulnerable people will be given tablets or PCs, and gain the skills they need to use them, so they can stay connected during the coronavirus lockdown

A new £5 million programme will offer an internet connection, training and support, and a laptop or tablet to vulnerable people who are not already online during the response to the coronavirus.

The Connecting Scotland programme will support 9,000 people who are considered high risk so they can 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.

Local authorities and the third sector will lead on identifying people to receive devices, distributing them and providing training and support.

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) chief executive Anna Fowlie said: “For most of us, technology has played a crucial role in keeping us connected to friends and family, informed and entertained, and able to continue with learning and work.

“However, there are people that can’t access the benefits of being online because of the affordability of kit and connectivity, or the confidence and skills to be able to use technology effectively. This additional investment will go a long way towards reducing that digital divide and ensuring everyone can benefit from being online.”

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. This £5 million investment will bring 9,000 more people online over the coming months, and help people best manage the impact that coronavirus is having on their lives.”



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