More access to digital technology

Published
19.09.2016

Local people are to benefit as Gloucestershire County Council gives its refurbished computers to community cafes and drop in hubs.

With help from its ICT partner Sopra Steria, the council is refurbishing and donating the computers it no longer uses as part of a new project called e-Forwards.

e-Forwards is part of the council's Forwards initiative which helps disabled people in Gloucestershire to get into work.

Giving more residents access to computers also improves digital inclusion and helps people to live more independent lives.

Digital inclusion is about making sure that everyone regardless of their background, their age or where they live, has access to IT and can use the internet.

Being online helps people feel more connected and 81%* of people in the UK over the age of 55 say that being online makes them feel part of modern society and less lonely. 

Nowadays digital skills are helpful to find employment and carry out jobs, but in the UK 21%* of people still lack the skills they need to take advantage of the internet. Disabled people and older people are some of the most digitally excluded in the country.

In Gloucestershire the county council and Sopra Steria are already making a difference.

In Coleford in the Forest of Dean four computers have already been installed at the Sixteen Community Café, a social enterprise that provides employment for vulnerable people. The computers will be used by residents of the neighbouring care home and supported living complex Dora Matthews House, as well as other local people

A further seven community centres around the county are also set to benefit from high-quality refurbished computers this summer.

Cllr Ray Theodoulou, deputy leader of Gloucestershire County Council said, "We want everyone to feel included in the digital age. Right across the county we're expanding the access people have to IT equipment and the internet, and helping residents to brush up on their IT skills too."

Tracey Lee, head of local government at Sopra Steria said, "We're proud to support this project which will help residents in Gloucestershire reap the social and economic benefits of the digital world."

Amanda Zayan, manager at Sixteen Community Café said, "The computers will be great for training, they're a valuable resource that will help empower people to learn and develop their IT skills."

Cllr Paul McMahon, local county councillor for Coleford said, "The computers will bring more opportunities for local people, and another string to the bow at Sixteen Community Café which already gives some great training."

Gloucestershire County Council and Sopra Steria will continue their work to get more computers into community cafes and drop in hubs this year.

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