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Get help to get online

Published Monday 25 October, 2021
Last updated on Tuesday 26 October, 2021

Families on low incomes will be helped to make the most of digital opportunities as part of a project to improve digital inclusion across the Isle of Sheppey.

Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council are working on a scheme that will provide low-income families with access to digital resources and skills.

The project will provide donated digital devices to low-income families as well as digital skills support for people looking to start or improve their digital knowledge. There will also be investment into the digital infrastructure of the island initiatives such as a community wi-fi trial rollout and the bolstering of existing digital access points such as the Mobile Matters work conducted by Sheppey Matters.

Kent County Council has provided £54,904 towards this project, from the Helping Hands scheme launched earlier this year by Kent County Council Leader, Roger Gough. £35,000 of this will be made available to voluntary and community sector organisations to equip them better digitally.

The key areas of focus will be employability skills, digital-oriented financial support, social isolation and mental health, and accessibility to services.

The groups being targeted for support will be digital seniors, e-withdrawn residents, passive and uncommitted users, and settled offline communities.

Cllr Angela Harrison, cabinet member for health & wellbeing, said:

“The pandemic has sped up the rate of services being provided online, which can bring benefits to lots of people, but if you’re not online, or don’t feel comfortable using the technology, you can feel left behind.

“There can also be a certain amount of stigma for people who don’t have devices that businesses or services assume everyone has access to.

“We want to work with people to help make sure they can access the technology they might need to, and they are comfortable using it safely.”

Cllr Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council said:

“I am pleased we are working with Swale Borough Council and partners, including the Pyramid Project CIC, to improve digital inclusion and skills on the Isle of Sheppey.

“This is one of many projects across the county we are supporting, delivering on our commitment to provide assistance to those who need it and helping our residents build back from the past 18 months of COVID”

Local organisation Pyramid Project CIC have been awarded £19,904 to deliver skills workshops and training courses.

Paul West, Director of Pyramid Project CIC, said:

“The digital skills and understanding that Sheppey residents are required to have to improve their employability prospects and to keep connected with friends and family is at an all-time high.

“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a lot of the basic digital needs Sheppey residents have and through the support of KCC and Swale Borough Council we are now able to address a number of those needs through meaningful practical skills courses and workshops centred around digital technologies.

“The courses will be available until the end of March 2022 for Sheppey residents, and we encourage anyone who needs support in improving their digital skills to get in touch.”

To find out more about the project, including how to receive support, call the Pyramid Project CIC on 07483 176 251.

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