Closing the digital divide

The next phase of the Scottish Government’s £2 million Digital Inclusion Programme will help ensure more people can access online health and social care support services.

More than £500,000 from the Connecting to Care Fund will be allocated to support seven projects across Scotland. These projects will foster partnerships between digital inclusion organisations and mental health or housing services, with the goal of reducing health inequalities and improving access to services and support.

This second phase of the Digital Inclusion Programme builds upon the success of the Digital Pioneer Fund, which allocated £690,000 to 13 digital inclusion projects.

The fund will help organisations working with people most at risk of digital exclusion,  supporting a range of groups including older people, carers, people with severe health conditions, people living in poverty including the homeless, and those affected by drugs and alcohol.

Health Secretary Neil Gray commented:

“With technology playing an increasingly important role in our society, ensuring people can get online and have the right skills and training is more important than ever. That is particularly important with healthcare, as more services and support are provided online.

“Ensuring equitable access to digital services in health and social care is essential for supporting the well-being of all our citizens. The Connecting to Care Fund represents our commitment to addressing barriers to access and empowering individuals to utilise digital tools to manage their health and social care needs effectively.”

Managed by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), this phase of the £2 million Digital Inclusion Programme will allocate a total of £512,354, benefiting 229 staff and volunteers, and reaching 720 beneficiaries and service users.

The Fund’s selected projects will be supported for up to 12 months and will participate in regular ‘Community of Learning’ sessions to share experiences and key lessons to inform future development of services.

The seven projects set to benefit from the Connecting to Care Fund include:

Fife Council – Fife Council Housing Plus Team in partnership with Connect Fife: Providing support and access to digital health and wellbeing tools for older people in Fife, promoting self-management of health and care needs for independent living. Benefiting 150 older people and 70 staff and volunteers.

Advocard: Offering digital advocacy support for people with mental health conditions in Edinburgh to access digital health services. Providing one-to-one digital support and advocacy for effective engagement. Benefiting 120 people and 12 staff and volunteers.

Link Living / NHS Fife: Supporting individuals with mental health conditions in Fife to access digital therapies and reduce treatment waiting times. Aims to embed digital inclusion within NHS services and enhance skills and confidence in accessing online therapies. Benefiting 30 people and 50 staff and volunteers.

Lead Scotland: Providing digital inclusion learning activities and support for people with disabilities in Aberdeen city and South Aberdeenshire. Focusing on access to digital health supports and exploring challenges and learning around accessibility within health and care services. Benefiting 120 people and 15 staff and volunteers.

Centred / Mhor Collective: Developing a digital inclusion programme for individuals experiencing mental health challenges in Highland. Working with NHS Community Link and Health Improvement Services to establish referral pathways for digital support to improve access to digital health services. Benefiting 180 people and 20 staff and volunteers.

TACT / NHS Ayrshire: Creating digital inclusion support and resources for in-patients and outpatients receiving treatment in an integrated mental health facility and community hospital covering Ayrshire. Aims to support self-management of mental health through access to relevant digital tools and services. Benefiting 50 patients and 12 staff and volunteers.

ALLIANCE – Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland: Supporting individuals referred via the Community Link Workers Programme in Glasgow to access digital health and social care tools. Providing digital inclusion support, and training to improve mental health and well-being, benefiting 70 people and 50 staff and volunteers.

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