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Funding given to connect the most vulnerable

A £5 million fund has been set up to offer an internet connection, training and support, and a laptop or tablet to vulnerable people who are not already online during the response to coronavirus.

It is estimated that the Connecting Scotland programme will connect 9,000 more people across Scotland who are considered at clinically high risk themselves so they can access services and support and connect with friends and family during the pandemic.

Those who take part in the programme – which is to be delivered by the Scottish Government, in partnership with local authorities, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)-  will be paired with a ‘digital champion’ to support them for six months while they get connected and find the information they need.

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.”

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

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