The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is supporting over 20,000 residents in the region to get online and further embrace technology thanks to securing £4m in funding for digital devices.
Targeting those at the highest risk of digital exclusion, the WMCA will work with local authorities and community partners to help residents improve their access to public services, increase their employment chances by learning digital skills and reduce isolation amongst vulnerable members of society.
Solihull Council can assist local partner organisations by providing you with Chromebooks and can also fund additional aids and adaptations to support your work with priority groups. Due to demand, no more laptops or mifi dongles are available.
While the project finishes officially at the end of March, the majority of devices need to be allocated to their ultimate recipients within 3-4 months after that. WMCA do not want to extend the project much beyond this as they have to produce an end report for their funders.
Applications from individual residents are not accepted, this scheme is for local partner organisations.
Due to demand no more laptops or mifi dongles are available, we have limited numbers of Chromebooks..
The funding comes as part of the WMCA’s trailblazing devolution deal announced by Government in the Spring Budget.
Research shows that over half of West Midlands residents do not have the necessary digital skills that are becoming increasingly required in the workplace, meaning they are missing out on job opportunities and other money saving advantages primarily found online such as price comparison sites.
Devices, such as tablets, laptops and mobiles phones, will also help with cost-of-living pressures.
The West Midlands also has the highest proportion of its population completely offline in the UK (22%).
For Solihull, 4.5% have not used the Internet in the last 3 months or have never used the Internet (ONS, 2021) but 98.9% of Solihull has broadband available with speeds over 24Mbps (thinkbroadband.com)
The aim is that community partners will also help to support digital inclusion by offering residents support to develop digital skills and build confidence in going online.