DOZENS of tablets and laptops will be given out to people in Dorset that are in digital need, thanks to a £20,000 investment.

Dorset Council has been awarded the cash for its new Digital Doorway scheme, which will see it issue around 60 tablets and laptops with up to two years’ worth of data to people who are currently digitally excluded.

In addition to the devices and data, each recipient will be offered free training and support from one of Dorset Council’s volunteer digital champions.

Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Corporate Development and Transformation, said: “The pandemic has shown what a huge difference digital can make to people’s lives – it meant we could carry on working and learning while staying connected with loved ones.

“It also highlighted how difficult things were for the people who were unable to get online and the huge gulf that now exists in modern Britain between the digitally included and the digitally excluded.

“In Dorset we still have 11% of residents who are completely offline and another 20% lack all the essential digital skills needed. This means nearly a third of our residents are digitally excluded in some way.

“Our Digital Doorway scheme and the support from our digital champions will help more people become digitally included.”

Digital exclusion means anyone who cannot easily access everything they need online.

This could be a job seeker who is finding it difficult to do online applications as they only have a smart phone and cannot afford a laptop or people reluctant to try new technology which could help them connect with family, friends and healthcare services.

All applicants must be aged over 18 and live in the Dorset Council area. Organisations are also encouraged to refer people they believe could benefit from the scheme.

To apply for a device, or to refer someone for a device, go to the council’s online application form

Anyone who needs helping filling-in, or accessing the form, can call the Digital Hotline on 01305 221048 (open Mon-Fri, 10am to noon) and a volunteer digital champion will help.