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Free tech aiming to connect people in need after hundreds of Highland residents are handed devices and web connections to help them use vital services


By Philip Murray

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HUNDREDS of vulnerable Highlanders are to be given web connections and devices to help them access vital services and stay connected.

Some 230 smartphones, tablet computers and Chromebooks have been donated to families in remote parts of Scotland – helping more than 500 people.

And they have also been handed a combined 17,250 GB of data to help get communities online.

The technology was handed out by the not-for-profit social enterprise The Libertie Project.

It is thought that about 500 children, families and elderly people in an area of the Highlands bounded by Fort William, Thurso, Nairn and Ullapool will be helped by the move.

The devices – including 30 smartphones, 40 Chromebooks, 85 MiFi tablets and 75 WiFi tablets – and data were targeted at a range of people, including older people who have been left socially isolated due to Covid-19.

Other beneficiaries included domestic abuse victims who were provided with secret phones, and children who otherwise could not access online school resources.

Another 100 devices will be distributed to vulnerable people between now and Christmas.

The Libertie Project handed out the devices after being matched with digital transformation consultancy Level 5 by the National Business Response Network.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Business Response Network has made 2093 matches between local community groups, schools and charities and UK businesses that have been able to meet their urgent needs during the crisis.

Liberty Bligh, CEO of The Libertie Project, said: “Digital exclusion is a massive problem for Scotland’s most vulnerable communities, and Covid-19 has highlighted how isolating a lack of internet connection is.

“So much of life takes place online these days that an internet connection is really a human connection – and in many cases it’s the only contact that some people have.”

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