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  • Connecting Scotland - Digital exclusion during COVID-19

    Created: 08/06/2021, Updated: 15/06/2021

    Connecting Scotland is a Scottish Government programme set up to tackle digital exclusion during the coronavirus crisis. It is delivered with the support of local councils, SCVOand a wide range of organisations from across Scotland and the UK.  

    Previous application rounds have targeted those at high clinical risk from coronavirus, families with children, young care leavers, older people and disabled people. 

    Phase three is now underway and aims to remove barriers related to digital exclusion for unemployed young people and adults (aged 16+).

    There are just over 1,000 devices available for Fife in Round 1. We expect the same to be available in Round 2 (due to occur in September 2021).

    Organisations can apply for support on behalf of the people they work with. This includes: 

    • Digital devices – iPads and/or Chromebooks.
    • Internet connectivity – a mobile WiFi hotspot with 24 months unlimited data. 
    • Training and support – for staff and volunteers to become ‘digital champions’ to support people to use the internet confidently and safely. 

    Who can apply?

    Organisations can apply for support for people that they work with that meet all the following criteria: 

    • They are digitally excluded – they currently do not have access to an appropriate device and/or internet connection at home. 
    • They are from a low income household – they cannot afford to buy a device or pay for internet access from their household income (e.g. claiming or eligible for Universal Credit). 
    • They are actively taking steps to improve their employment prospects. This includes people furthest from the labour market who are not job ready but are undertaking activity to address any barriers to employment or training (e.g. confidence building, improving health or wellbeing, ESOL programmes) 
    • They are currently unemployed (see the FAQs for more detailed guidance on the eligibility of people in short-term work placements or insecure employment) 

    Priority will be given to organisations working with people who are likely to have been affected most by the changes to the labour market over the past year, either due to existing inequalities or redundancy. This includes: 

    • Women 
    • Young people 
    • Disabled people 
    • Minority ethnic people 
    • Lone parents 
    • People experiencing other forms of socio-economic disadvantage  

    Getting online will help people access public services, support learning and training, help find or maintain work and reduce the risk of social isolation while coronavirus restrictions are in place.

    Who can apply? 

    All public or third sector organisations that work to support people to address barriers to employment are eligible to apply. This includes, but is not limited to, organisations and teams working in: 

    • Employability  
    • Education and training  
    • Youth work 
    • Community learning and development 
    • Health and well-being 
    • Social work 
    • Financial advice and support 

    Private sector providers delivering Government employability programmes (such as No One Left Behind, Young Person’s Guarantee, Parental Employability Support) may apply, providing they can meet the commitments to the programme. 

    All organisations must be able to commit to: 

    • Carry out an appropriate needs assessment with the intended recipients, including completion of a Connecting Scotland user agreement 
    • Provide details of the intended recipients, in advance of delivery 
    • Take delivery of devices and distribute them to recipients within 30 days 
    • Provide support for at least six months to end-users to help them develop their digital skills and confidence through the Digital Champions model – or have the ability to form local partnerships to help deliver this support 
    • Make staff and/or volunteers available for a 2.5 hour remote training session to become ‘Digital Champions’. 

    A full list of roles and responsibilities can be found in the template grant agreement

    How to apply? 

    Each local council has an allocation of devices available to them to distribute to people living in their area. This is to ensure as wide geographic coverage as possible. If your organisation works in more than one area, you’ll need to complete a separate application form for each area.  You can find the online application here.

    There are two rounds of applications planned for 2021: 

    • The first application round is open until 17:00 on Monday 05 July. Applications for Fife will be assessed by Fife Council and partners. You will be notified of the outcome of your application by 02 August. Devices will be delivered in late August and September. 
    • A second application round is expected to open in September, with successful organisations receiving their devices in November. 

    More information can be found here. If you have any questions about the fund, please e-mail your query to [email protected] and we'll be in touch to help answer your question.

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