ScotlandIS has welcomed news that the Scottish Government plans to invest £5 million to boost digital connectivity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scottish Government announced the launch of a new programme, Connecting Scotland, yesterday (Thursday 7th May). The programme hopes to assist 9,000 high-risk people so they can access services and support and also connect with friends or family during the pandemic.
Holyrood’s investment will be focused on improving internet connections, funding training and support schemes and providing laptops or tablets to some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland.
Those taking part in the programme will also be paired with a ‘digital champion’, who will help to support them for six months to get connected and access vital information online.
Commenting on the announcement, 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.”
Campbell added: “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.”
The Connecting Scotland project will be delivered alongside local authorities, as well as Healthcare Improvement Scotland, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and ScotlandIS.
It has also secured support from Microsoft, Leidos, The Data Lab and Accenture.
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Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of ScotlandIS, insisted the programme will help to provide critical support amid a challenging period.
She said: “ScotlandIS is delighted at news of the Scottish Government’s funding of the Connecting Scotland programme. The initiative, with support from several key industry players, will help the most vulnerable people in Scotland get online to access much-needed support, information, and training at this challenging time.
“It is through collaboration, innovation, and intent that we can advance the digitisation of Scotland and ensure no-one is left behind when it comes to online connectivity, and ScotlandIS is proud to play its role in delivering on this ambition.”
Morrison-Ross commended efforts of the wider Scottish technology sector, as well as some of its members who offered “much time, expertise and guidance” during the development of the programme.