Digital Communities Wales scheme gets £2 million support

The Digital Communities Wales scheme, which aims to help people improve their digital skills, has been given a spending boost of £2 million to continue its work.

Funded by the Welsh Government and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre, the scheme provides support to organisations that work with those most likely to be digitally excluded.

In the past, organisations have delivered the programme to disabled people, residents living in social housing, older people and the unemployed. The aim is to improve their lives with tech.

Digital Communities Wales can support them in a plethora of ways, whether it be helping them to find work, reduce isolation or accessing affordable online goods and services.

According to the latest estimates from Ofcom, 16 per cent of people living in Wales don’t use the internet regularly, and as a result they may be missing out on the benefits offered by tech.

The programme was originally launched in 2015 for a period of two years, with the option to extend it. As of last December, it’s benefited around 60,000 individuals, with 1,100 front-line staff and 435 volunteers involved.

Julie James, the minister for skills and science at the Welsh Government, said: “Digital Communities Wales has made good overall progress since it was established and is working effectively with organisations across Wales.

“There are still too many people who are not benefiting from the opportunities of digital technology, and our ambitious aim is to address digital exclusion by helping 95 per cent of people gain at least the basic digital skills needed for the 21st century by 2021.”

““Digital Communities Wales will play an important role in contributing to this goal which is why I am pleased to confirm the extension of the programme for a further two years.”

“The way the programme works with organisations at a local level to develop sustainable digital skills support initiatives, ensures it can reach those people most in need.”

Derek Walker, CEO of Wales Co-operative Centre, said: “Work to promote digital inclusion remains an important part of creating a fairer society. Those without basic digital skills are more likely to be older, poorer and facing other forms of inequality.

“The Wales Co-operative Centre is pleased to be able to continue to deliver this work for a further two years and that the programme’s impact has been recognised by Welsh Government as well as independent evaluators.”