The UK Government has announced a £2.5m ‘Digital Lifeline Fund’ set up to help improve the lives of thousands of people with learning disabilities on low incomes.
As part of the fund, 5,000 internet-enabled tablets preloaded with data and free tech support will be available from March, in addition to devices to help recipients beat loneliness by reconnecting them with friends and family.
Although the effects of Coronavirus have been felt by everybody, recent ONS data shows that three in four (74.6%) of people with learning difficulties believe their wellbeing has been affected by C-19, compared with 37% of non-disabled people.
It has been well documented that technology can assist those with learning difficulties in reducing feelings of loneliness and support their mental health and wellbeing. The fund will support thousands of people facing financial hardship and enable them to enjoy the many benefits offered by technology, such as catching up with friends and family.
In order to deliver the project, the government is working with leading digital inclusion charities, Good Things Foundation and AbilityNet.
Both charities are highly experienced in supporting disabled people in boosting their mental health and achieving their goals through digital technology.
Gary Moore, CEO of AbilityNet, said:
“Covid has shown how access to technology is a vital part of an independent and fulfilling life for everyone in the community.”
The Digital Lifeline Fund is only open to applications from self-advocacy groups and charities that work closely with people with learning disabilities.
However, self-advocacy groups and charities can apply on behalf of any person with learning disabilities aged 18+, whether they live independently, in supported living, with their parents or family carers.
They must also be digitally excluded; meaning that they can’t afford internet access and their own appropriate device.
For more information and to apply for the The Digital Lifeline Fund, please contact your nearest self-advocacy group, online centre or support provider to see if they are participating in the programme.
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