Over the past three years, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (SCVO) Digital Participation Charter Fund  – supported by the Scottish Government and BT – has supported 143 projects across Scotland to get people online and develop basic digital skills.

This week, Round 5 of the Charter Fund made awards of over £145,000 to 17 organisations from across the country*, which work either to support working age people to increase financial capability, employment and other economic outcomes; or support older and disabled people to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

Scotland is already a ‘digital nation’, with eight in ten households having an internet connection, and six in ten people utilising smartphones. However research conducted by SCVO’s Digital Team earlier this year, in conjunction with the University of the West of Scotland, showed that around 21 per cent of adults in Scotland still do not have basic digital skills. 

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said:   “The internet opens up a world of opportunity to everyone. It enriches people’s lives financially, socially and culturally and has the power to make a real difference to the way in which we live. It helps people to keep in touch, learn new things, save money, find work and stay healthy. I’m delighted that we can provide funding to these 17 community organisations. Getting people online and developing digital skills within Scotland’s communities is key to a Fairer Scotland.”

SCVO’s Digital Director David McNeill said: “With the ubiquity of smartphones and the central role the internet plays in most of our lives, it’s perhaps all too easy to forget the significant minority who do not have digital confidence, skills or access. Those being left behind are likely to face other challenges, such as unemployment, and therefore end up being doubly disadvantaged. Evidence from our research earlier this year tells us that approaches to overcoming digital exclusion must be embedded in a broader approach to tackling social exclusion. The projects funded will benefit those most in need of support.”

Two of the successful organisations in this round are LAMH Recycle in Motherwell, and Camphill (Blair Drummond) Trust in Stirlingshire.

LAMH Recycle provides training, volunteering and employment opportunities for individuals aged 16 plus who are facing issues such as poverty, ill health, unemployment, social isolation and other forms of inequality. 

 Their funding will go toward their ‘Digital Skills for the Future’ project aims to help reduce isolation and poverty locally by supporting people in Motherwell, Wishaw, Bellshill, Carluke, Larkhall and Coatbridge to get online, increase their digital capabilities and improve their employment prospects. Transacting online, managing information for job searching and registering for – and using – digital government services will form key parts of the sessions. 

Camphill Blair Drummond enables some of the most vulnerable and socially isolated adults in society to live happy, meaningful lives. Established over 40 years ago, they aim to provide a mutually supportive and purposeful community life for people with learning disabilities where everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their true potential. 

Their funding will support their ‘Go On Learning Zone’ which will provide a dedicated space for all members of the community to be able to increase their digital skills through regular workshops, occasional groups and 1-2-1 support for learning and social activities.