An initiative set up last year to help bridge the digital divide has given the green light to grants totaling £ 269,000 to fund projects across the UK.

The schemes supported by the Access Foundation include a commitment of £ 120,000 for 12 fellows to study computer science or IT management at Loughborough University, the same amount to support a similar program at Astana University and £ 28,985 per creating a digital package within the Community Interest Campaign that offers training and learning in Hartlepool.

Numerous studies have shown how deep the digital divide has become. Social Mobility Commission State of the Nation Report for 2021 found that when the blockade occurred in March 2020, a large number of the poorest families were excluded from the digital world. Only 51% of families in the UK, earning between £ 6,000 and £ 10,000, had home internet access, compared to 99% of families earning more than £ 40,000.

And in December 2021, it showed a survey of the charity educational organization Teach First only 2% of teachers working in vulnerable communities said their students had adequate access to the technology needed to work from home.

“The situation is alarming that in an increasingly digital society, so many people are left behind,” said Pierce McLeish, a trustee of the Access Foundation. “Digital access and skills are crucial to enable people to participate fully in today’s online world.

This grant means that we can make a key and measurable difference in the digital poverty that is so prevalent in our city – Sam Hunter, Grand League CIC

“The main task of the Access Foundation is to eliminate digital inequality and help people from different backgrounds have the same opportunities, regardless of their zip code and origin,” he added.

“We have therefore identified priority initial grant funding to support projects that are truly changing and bridging the digital divide in the UK.”

His words were echoed by Sam Hunter in The Big League CIC, an Hartlepool organization supported by the Access Foundation, which aims to reduce poverty and improve health, well-being and social cohesion.

“This grant is very important to us because it means we can make a key and measurable difference in the digital poverty that is so prevalent in our city,” Hunter said.

“Sometimes this poverty is not recognized as, say, food or fuel poverty, but the consequences can be truly devastating for how people can access their digital needs.

“We believe that everyone should have fair opportunities, and this does bridge the digital divide, reducing poverty and increasing their aspirations and ability to interact.”

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