Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) has secured support for a number of its tenants to gain access and support through working in partnership with Connecting Scotland and Scottish Borders Council.
The Connecting Scotland initiative is a Scottish Government programme which aims to connect up to 9,000 more people on low incomes, who are considered vulnerable, to access services and support and connect with family and friends in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The programme has provided selected tenants access to iPads along with personalised support and broadband to help them develop their digital skills and communicate with family and friends.
Jennifer Mitchinson, BHA Digital Champion said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic some of our tenants were faced with several challenges, many of which may have been avoided with digital access, support and connectivity.
“Working in partnership with Connecting Scotland we could identify those most in need of this support and, during our well-being calls, we would ask tenants if they have access to devices or Wi-Fi and are pleased we can now offer support where we can.”
Before lockdown restrictions were introduced the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) highlighted key statistics around the digital divide within Scotland. 20% of the population of Scotland did not have the essential digital skills and 7% had none. During lockdown this figure has increased as everyone has faced a change in how we work, communicate and even shop.
Dan Blake, BHA’s Operations Director added: “The success of the Connecting Scotland initiative is paramount to ensure we can support our most vulnerable tenants in gaining the digital support they need so they are not being digitally excluded which can be a huge contributing factor to loneliness and isolation.”