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Big Lottery and Highland Council Funding to Support Digital Inclusion in the Highlands

10th September 2015

The Highland Council is partnering with digital participation charity Citizens Online and other local partners to identify and tackle digital inclusion issues in the Highlands, supported by funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

The project will identify the barriers that Highland residents are facing in accessing the internet. It will also map the existing provision of digital skills training and support, and facilitate a partnership to fill any gaps. The aim of the project is to support the uptake of digital skills and services by creating a sustainable and supportive partnership network.

The project is part of Citizens Online's Digital Resilience initiative, being rolled out in four locations across the UK: Gwynedd, Plymouth, Brighton and the Highlands. Through strong partnership working, these locations will focus on achieving Digital by Default agendas and other outcomes, including improving the employability of individuals. The initiative has now secured funding from the Big Lottery Fund. The Highland Council is also contributing £90,000 to the local delivery of this project, and the continuation of the excellent digital skills training Citizens Online already provides across the Highlands.

Chair of the Council's Resources Committee, Councillor Bill Fernie said: "With more and more services being made available online it is important we ensure everyone can access and make use of all that is available digitally. We are almost at the point where digital services are a utility like water or electricity and no one should be left out.

Citizens Online is a national charity that was set up to tackle the issues of digital exclusion, to make sure that the Internet is available to everybody and to help individuals and communities understand and gain the benefits of being online.

Gail Bradbrook, Director of Programmes at Citizens Online said: "At Citizens Online we recognise the need to support people to develop digital skills whilst helping partners to improve their service delivery - the two things can be symbiotic. It’s a difficult time for many local authorities and we look forward to working with our partners to build as much local resilience as possible."

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