Get Digital Scotland will “open digital doors” for homeless people

The new digital inclusion campaign will launch today creating 250 ‘digital champions’ to ensure vulnerable people aren’t left behind in digital age

A new digital inclusion initiative will launch today in Scotland to give homeless people the computer skills “other take for granted”.

Two of Scotland’s leading homelessness charities Streetwork and Simon Community Scotland will unveil Get Digital after receiving a £250,000 grant from the Scottish government to create ‘digital champions’.

This will see 250 workers from the two charities receive training to provide support to people experiencing homelessness in learning digital skills and engaging with the digital world.

Digital exclusion and the inability to use computers and tablets or access the internet can make it impossible to even fill out the simple forms need to access vital services. The annual Lloyds Consumer Index found that 910,000 Scots do not have basic digital skills.

The Get Digital tools, training and support will then be shared with other homelessness service providers across Scotland.

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Simon Community Scotland has already spearheaded a response to the digital exclusion issue, working with Glasgow City Council to create a new digital inclusion officer role where a person roams the streets with an iPad to help rough sleepers apply for benefits and housing.

The Big Issue joined Elaine Jameson on the streets of Glasgow last month to see first-hand how the role she took up last October is helping make a difference.

And now the work is poised to be scaled up to work across the whole of Scotland.

Kate Forbes MSP, minister for public finance and digital economy, will help officially launch the nationwide scheme at an event in Edinburgh today.

“Digital should open doors for everyone,” said Scottish Digital Minister Kate Forbes MSP ahead of today’s launch in Edinburgh.

“The Get Digital programme recognises the power of digital to provide those affected by homelessness with the opportunity to improve their digital skills and achieve their goals.”

Streetwork’s digital inclusion programme manager Jamie Trout added: “Without digital skills, people experiencing homelessness face a real barrier in trying to find solutions to their situation.

“Through Get Digital, we are opening up an entire world of opportunity. Using their newly-acquired skills, people can begin accessing the online world and the opportunities it brings.”

Image: Jamie McFadyen