Get Digital Scotland, Simon Community Scotland’s digital inclusion programme, is proud to announce the launch of Get Connected 100! This is a Scotland-wide project giving 100 people experiencing homelessness access to the digital world.
Digital access is a critical factor in recovery from homelessness. Simon Community Scotland has been leading the way in digital inclusion for people who have experience of homelessness. Through our Get Digital Scotland programme we provide training, resources, support and access to the digital world.
Our Get Connected 100 project will connect and support 100 people to get online. Each participant will receive a free digital device and unlimited connectivity for 12 months. In addition to free digital technology, frontline workers at Simon Community and in our partner organisations are trained as digital champions to provide person centred support based around a digital skills learning framework. The project will give people instant, easy access at all times, right in their pocket, and support to build skills and confidence to get online.
Why is this needed?
Research from the University of West of Scotland shows us that people who experience homelessness are among the most digitally excluded groups in our society. This is a severe disadvantage in life which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Due to COVID-19 we rely even more heavily on digital for many daily activities: socialising with friends, managing finances and finding reliable information, engaging with health services, getting the latest news and accessing entertainment. Digital has never been so critical to our lives.
Who will get access?
Get Connected 100 is being delivered by Simon Community Scotland services to people in Glasgow, Edinburgh and North Lanarkshire and alongside our Get Digital Partners throughout the rest of Scotland; CATH and Turning Point Scotland in Perth, Aberdeen Cyrenians in Aberdeen, Seascape in Ayrshire and Frontline in Fife.
Scottish Government backing
The project is being funded by the Scottish Government. Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “I am delighted to fund this project to support 100 people experiencing homelessness get connected to the digital world. The pandemic has shown us that access to digital equipment, data and skills is a basic necessity and not a luxury. The funding will provide free digital devices, connectivity for 12 months and training in digital skills, as part of our £100 million winter support package to help people cope with additional financial pressures of winter and COVID-19.”
Building on our experience: Making a powerful difference
In May 2020, Simon Community Scotland funded a ‘Get Connected Pilot’ in Edinburgh to develop and test this approach. We wanted to make sure people facing isolation during lockdown could get support and be linked with loved ones and professional services.
The results for the people who were part of the pilot were life changing. 100% of participants said that getting a connected device and support though this pilot positively affected their lives. People were able to apply for jobs, find accommodation, connect with friends and family, learn languages, access benefits, manage finances and much more. Read more about the pilot here.
Our pilot demonstrated that when people have ownership of a digital device, unlimited connectivity and support from our digital champions, it opens up a whole world of opportunities!
We’ve seen what a difference this approach makes and are excited to support 100 more people – from across Scotland – to access the benefits of the digital world.
Get Digital Scotland will be publishing a report on the impact of Get Connected 100 – watch this space!