Lewisham council awarded £50k to tackle Social isolation

Catford Library, Pic: Lewisham Council

City hall has awarded £50,000 to Lewisham council to give Londoners the opportunity to borrow tablet computers from libraries for the first time.

The mayor of London’s “Mi Wifi” scheme will pay for 70 tablet computers in Lewisham.

Lewisham council won the competition against other London Boroughs for the £50k funding.

From June 2017 to January 2018 Lewisham residents will be able to borrow a tablet for up to four weeks and will be offered six hours of digital skills training. The tablets are also available for community groups to loan to the vulnerable residents they work with.

The scheme, launched during London Tech Week is aimed at Londoners who have no or little access to the internet and are lacking basic technologic skills which contribute to economic disadvantage, low levels of well-being and social isolation in these groups. It will test how digital exclusion can be reduced among specific groups.

Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, said: “Thanks to the Mayor of London’s £50,000 ‘Mi Wifi’ award, Lewisham residents will be the first Londoners to be able to borrow tablets from libraries. Our tablet loan scheme will give more people the chance to go online to find work, save money and keep in touch with family and friends.”

Deputy Mayor of Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Matthew Ryder, said: “The new ‘Mi Wifi’ pilot in Lewisham is an exciting initiative to help people to find jobs, access their local council services and reduce social isolation by getting online through their local library.

Digital inclusion is becoming more and more important. We know it can transform lives, particularly for those who are most excluded, including older and disabled Londoners and people from disadvantage backgrounds. But too many still find it challenging and unfamiliar – we have to help change that. I look forward to seeing the project in action and finding new ways to help more Londoners reap of being online with the support of their community.

More details on the ‘Mi Wifi’ scheme here.

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