Voluntary and Community groups and organisations are being encouraged to bid for a share of £30,000 to boost digital awareness and to support people in North East Lincolnshire to access and use online services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many services in health, employment and welfare moving to more online provision, some people may struggle to access this due to a lack of suitable equipment, knowledge and/or data such as Wi-Fi or mobile data.
The move to do even more online during the pandemic has highlighted the digital divide in the borough and funding is now available to voluntary and community sector organisations to help them support individuals and families to access digital services and get assistance for online use.
The funding aims to:
Reduce the number of people locally that are unable to access or benefit from digital and online services and support
Create a network of digital champions in community facilities where people can get help and advice on how to use / access online services
Promote awareness of places where people can gain access to free Wi-Fi
Any projects must extend existing digital provision at current sites and/or develop new community facilities/projects. The funding must be spent before end of March 2022. The organisation must also demonstrate how their project will become sustainable beyond April 2022, or how it will be adapted so that digital support remains in place for those that need it.
Those bidding for a share of the funding must include one of the following in extending their offering:
Digital equipment – this can include purchase of equipment that will be used to allow people to access online services, either as free access within a community building, loaned equipment given to people known to be digitally excluded, or ‘taster’ equipment to demonstrate to people how the kit can be used to enable them to access better utility deals, cheaper online shopping, employment and skills opportunities, access to health care etc.
Training and education – there are a large number of digital training courses already being delivered across North East Lincolnshire. To be eligible for funding, your project needs to clearly demonstrate that the training you are providing does not duplicate this activity and that the people you are targeting are not already able to access existing training. In your claim, you will need to include testimonies / case studies on individuals that show they were not accessing other training and the impact that your project as had on their digital skills.
Digital connectivity – this should include community focused activity that enables people to access online services. This could include the creation of a community / neighbourhood / street free Wi-Fi hotspot.
Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said:
“We want to make it easier for people to get online and have access and support to digital resources. This includes free Wi-Fi hotspots to encourage better take up in areas that have low rates of access to online services, training to give people the skillset they need to confidently and safely use the internet, and in some cases, providing equipment to those who cannot afford it. We really want to support people to get online, especially due to the circumstances we now find ourselves in, heavily relying on digital use and often access to more affordable utilities, insurance etc. which is only available online.
“I’d encourage as many voluntary and community groups and organisations to get involved in making a difference in our community, working together in partnership to address the digital gap and enabling people to access real time information, advice, support and to reduce their monthly bills”.
Voluntary sector community groups and organisations can request further information about the funding available by contacting Stephen McGrath (e-mail: [email protected] or telephone on 01472 323737).
The deadline to submit a bid for a share of the £30,000 is midnight on Monday, 30 August 2021.