Digital Inclusion

Many organisations have been approaching VSF about information for people who are facing what’s known as ‘digital exclusion’, who do not have access to the internet at home, for whatever reason. Digital exclusion puts people at risk of falling behind at school, in employment, in access to resources for health or training, and at this time, restricts access to family and social activities, all of which can have an effect on physical and especially mental health.

The following is a list of resources and projects for those who are seeking to help include those in need in this area.

New Crowdfunder scheme launched 28 Jan

Cornwall Isles of Scilly Digital Skills Partnership has teamed up with Newquay-based Crowdfunder, Cornwall Council and local businesses to launch the Kit4Kids campaign to provide hundreds of children across Cornwall with the kit they need to access online learning.

The campaign is asking as many businesses, community organisations and individuals as possible to help raise a minimum of £75,000 to buy laptops and data dongles for Cornish primary and secondary schools to loan to families in need. £200 is enough to provide a laptop and Crowdfunder has pledged to match £4,000 in donations. The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has kicked off the campaign with a £20,000 contribution, which is enough to provide 100 laptops. Find out how to get involved on the Crowdfunder website.

If you know of students in need, contact their school to ensure that staff are communicating with the digital inclusion team at the Council to discuss the needs of students, as not every school has been responding to messages from the team.

Citizens Advice Cornwall Digital Advice Hubs

Citizens Advice Cornwall has received funding to place laptops, which are connected to internet, with local hosts around the county.  These Digital Advice hubs are available for 1-to-1 appointments with their advisers, but they are a resource for local communities to use.  CA have equipped each machine with a free-to-use internet phone and web browser for local residents to use to access any services.  They have also pre-programmed into the internet phone the Citizens Advice Cornwall Adviceline telephone helpline number, for urgent contact and Cornwall Council’s Digital Inclusion team direct lines for two Digital Champions who can teach anyone how to use all things digital. 

Here is a list of all venues and appointment times.  The equipment is available to members of the local community to use via the host organisation at times when Citizens Advice are not conducting appointments. 

Venue Address CAC Appointment times 
Torpoint Library Fore St, Torpoint PL11 2AG First Tuesday of each Month 
St Ives Library 4 Library Row, Station Rd, St Ives PE27 5BW Third Wednesday of each Month 
Launceston Gateway Community Centre Madford Lane, Launceston PL15 9EG First Wednesday of each Month 
Bude Library The Wharf, Bude EX23 8LG Closed in lockdown but then Second Wednesday of each Month 
Newquay Foodbank (St Columb) St Columb Minor Parish Church, 76 Church St, Newquay TR7 3EY Closed in lockdown but then Second Tuesday of each month 
Treverbyn Hall Treverbyn Community Hall Treverbyn Rd, Stenalees, St Austell PL26 8TL First Thursday of each month 
Carn Gwaval Wellbeing Centre Old Town Road St Mary’s IoS TR21 0NA Second Thursday of the Month 


Distribution of digital devices from industry

DevicesDotNow initiative seeks donation of kit / finance from businesses nationally which will then be procured and distributed through Good Things Foundation Online Centres.

A team at Cornwall Council is making an application to be an Online Centre, to distribute these donated items, with details to be announced when it is launched.

Support and funding

Support resources list from the BBC

Home-school: Can you get a free laptop or cheaper broadband?

Digital Support helpline from CRCC

For accessibility, skills and support, plus advice on cheap broadband – on 01872 243 557 or 01872 243 534 or digitalinclusion@cornwall.gov.uk
This team can also provide grants to help people purchase equipment.

Cornwall Community Foundation

Offering funding for organisations in COVID-19 relief. You could put together a project to apply to fund broadband & equipment for individuals in need.

Citizens Advice Cornwall

Has a debt helpline if that’s an issue around broadband provision.  They can also offer one-off small grants to individuals) previously used to replace a broken freezer, etc.)

Homeless-specific support

Frontline Network has emergency funding, specifically for homeless people, one category of which is ‘Overcoming Barriers to Support’ including digital.

Social Prescribing

Volunteer Cornwall is the lead on projects around social prescribing in a number of GP clusters.  Full details of the scheme, and which clusters, plus the lead organisations in each case, can be found on the VC website.

Inclusion Matters

Cornwall Rural Community Charity is working with Cornwall Council’s Inclusion Matters project, Care Homes, Village Works and GPs to support digital connectivity to support care homes and GP contacts.

For more information about the different facets of the project, see the website.

Cheap internet connectivity

BT Basic +Broadband offers a very limited broadband access (15gb per month) for £10.07 per month, which includes line rental.

This is for people who are eligible to get BT Basic lines, ie in receipt of benefits, including Universal Credit & pensions credit.

Other offers from other providers, although not so cheap, can be found here – on the Broadband Choices website.

Training offered

Training / info services

Cornwall Council’s Digital inclusion Team is offering one to one support through telephone and email – 5 days a week 9-5 (some evenings if required), and training and other support.

CRCC telephone support – 5 days a week 9 – 4.

Digital Unite have some useful guides

Which, USwitch and Age UK have all  produced guides on how to make a video call on your table or smartphone

Smartline project around educating people (Coastline Housing primary focus, in Camborne, Pool, Redruth area)

1) development of a bespoke guide on accessing digital technology, specifically communication-based applications such as Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger for technology novices and users with low levels of digital competency and confidence.

2) Development of video and 1:1 telephone support to teach digital connectivity based on the bespoke guide.

Cornwall Council has some free courses signposted, which will help beginners get online, and stay safe.

Digital addiction

A related matter that is worth linking here, is around digital addiction. We have been shared a useful guide around screen addiction and responsible digital usage, including:

  • How technology use has changed over the years (72% of adults now consider smartphones their most essential device)
  • The impact of COVID-19 on screen time use and digital behaviours (smartphone usage in the UK surged by 30% during lockdown)
  • Understanding screen addictions and how our devices affect our brains and change our behaviours (e.g. dopamine-driven reward loops)
  • Helpful tips and useful advice for tackling device addiction, managing gadget and internet use, and creating healthier digital habits.

You can download the full guide on the Compare the Market website.