Council partners with Citizens Online to combat digital inclusion issues

The Highland Council is teaming up with Citizens Online charity to combat “digital inclusion issues” within the Highlands.

A national charity, Citizens Online was created to ensure that the Internet is available to everyone. It helps individuals and communities both recognise and obtain the advantages 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.”


The mission

The project, supported by the Big Lottery Fund, will look at the barriers preventing Highland residents from accessing the internet.

Furthermore, it will explore the current provision of digital skills training and support, and create a partnership to “fill any gaps”.

According to The Highland Council, the project has been designed to support the uptake of digital skills and services by forming a “sustainable and supportive” partnership network.


Digital Resilience initiative

The project is part of Citizens Online’s Digital Resilience initiative, which is also being implemented in Gwynedd, Plymouth and Brighton. Together, the four locations will concentrate on reaching Digital by Default schemes, as well as improve the “employability of individuals”.

As well as funding from the Big Lottery Fund, The Highland Council is also putting forward £90,000 to the project’s local delivery and the on-going digital skills training provided by Citizen Online.

Councillor Bill Fernie, Chair of the Council’s Resources Committee, 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.

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