The Welsh Government’s programme to promote digital inclusion in Wales is to continue for a further two years with support of £2m.
Digital Communities Wales, which is funded by the Welsh Government and delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre, works with partner organisations across Wales.
Latest estimates suggest 16% of people in Wales do not regularly use the internet, and potentially miss out on the many benefits it can bring. Digital Communities Wales works at a local level to develop sustainable digital inclusion activities to reach those who have most to gain from the digital world.
The programme provides support to organisations which work with those most likely to be digitally excluded including disabled people, residents in social housing, older people and the unemployed. It aims to help improve their lives, whether it’s accessing cheaper online goods and services, helping reduce isolation or finding work.
Digital Communities Wales was established in 2015 for a period of two years with the option to extend it for a further two years.
As of December 2016 an estimated 60,000 individuals have been supported as a result of the programme, with training provided to over 1,100 front line staff and over 435 volunteers.
The Minister 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 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.”