15/09/2023 - Permalink

New funding from UK Shared Prosperity Fund to extend digital skills programme for three years

Related topics: Corporate / Partner organisations

Shropshire Council’s Digital Skills Programme has received £107,415.20 from the Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund 

A man with a white beard is smiling at the camera, with arms folded and is holding a mobile phone in one hand. He is wearing glasses and a checked shirt. There is a colourful illustration of books behind him on a poster.

Bill Dorrell, a recent participant in the digital skills programme

The programme pilot began in 2020 and has been commissioned by Shropshire Council since 2022, helping residents to reap the benefits of digital skills for life, learning and leisure, and is delivered through libraries and partners in the community. 

Volunteer-led digital support is provided through a combination of free, weekly learning sessions, and digital drop-ins that provide one-off help with tasks like setting up a new device. Limited free equipment and data is available to encourage people to get online if they don’t already own a digital device.  

The additional funding will provide higher levels of free digital support, enabling participants to access a range of life-enhancing online services, plus more free equipment and data for people that need it most 

Shropshire’s digital skills programme is available to people who are included in one or more of the following groups: 

  • Aged 65 or over 
  • Live alone 
  • Provide unpaid care for a friend or family member, or receive care themselves 
  • Have a disability or a health condition 
  • Receive pension credit or another means tested benefit.

Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for culture and digital, said: 

“Learning basic digital skills can offer so many benefits, like bringing us closer to our loved ones with messaging and video calling, and getting shopping delivered to our doors.   

“Being able to access everyday services online can also save time, and this scheme will help to make this possible for even more people in Shropshire. 

“Our libraries and community partners have already enriched the lives of hundreds of residents with this programme, and have received praise for their friendly and personal approach. The new funding will allow us to extend this success, connecting people to all the positives that the online world has to offer.” 

Bill, a recent participant in the Digital Skills Programme, said:-

“I’d avoided the problem for too long. For me, not understanding how to use computers was like a form of illiteracy.  

“Now, I have a group email for my cycling club so arranging bike rides is easy, and I use messaging and WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends. 

“Older people need to keep learning. Thanks to this initiative, I feel more confident about life and the future. I’m prepared to try new things online and don’t worry so much. For me, that’s a real result.” 

The Digital Skills Programme supports 750 people each year through 18 Shropshire library locations and 10 local voluntary and community organisations.

For more information and to join the waiting list for support, contact your local library or learning centre, ring 01743 254834 or visit the webpage.

Editors Notes  

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-shared-prosperity-fund-prospectus