Digital dosh: Wicklow council issues grants of €45k to help with IT skills
Grants totalling €45,000 have been allocated by Wicklow County Council to address digital poverty in the county.
Digital poverty is a form of exclusion where people are missing out on services, communication or social interaction due to a lack of skills, access to equipment and or to the internet.
The grants scheme is part of the work of the County Wicklow COVID-19 Community Response Forum and of the implementation of the County Wicklow Digital Strategy.
Mr Frank Curran, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council and Chair of the COVID-19 Community Response Forum, explained that “Many crucial services are now being delivered online because of COVID-19 restrictions and this is a trend that will continue into the future. However, many people are experiencing difficulty in accessing services because of a lack of digital equipment or access to wifi.
“This fund is aimed at enabling organisations to purchase vital equipment such as tablets, laptops and dongles that can be accessed by those in most need of them. This is also fulfilling a core aim of the County Wicklow Digital Strategy”.
To have qualified for the grant, the project must achieve an impact in one or more of the following:
- Enabling on-line education, reskilling or training for disadvantaged groups
- Enabling online youth work/mental health interventions
- Support for vulnerable families
- Support for those with a disability
- Support for those in Direct Provision
- Community outreach to vulnerable groups while social distancing
- Combating isolation for older people
There was a large response to the funding call with over 30 applications received, most of which were eligible and received funding. The Cathaoirleach, Cllr Pat Kennedy, welcomed this exciting new funding initiative as an innovative step and a further example of the Council reaching out to the community.
Rena Byrne, Nurse Manager with Carnew Community Care, illustrated the difference that a scheme like this can make: “Yesterday one of our residents received a six-month free trial of a ‘Grandpad’ (an iPad for older persons). The joy on her face was priceless when she dialled up a web call and saw her daughter and her grandchildren in the UK for the first time in a year.
“I am hoping to invest in a Grandpad for all 26 residents and also expand it out to our wider Day membership. Drawing down funding for this IT investment will be invaluable in terms of maintaining connections with family and friends and lessening the impact of social isolation for all our residents and Day members.”