Charities unite to help the digitally disadvantaged

Three leading charities have formed a not-for-profit company to help marginalised people switch over to digital television.

Age Concern England, Help the Aged and Community Service Volunteers have teamed up with Collective Enterprises, which provides services to the voluntary sector, to launch Digital Outreach.

The company has been set up with £2.9m of funding from Digital UK, the non-profit company owned by major broadcasters that is coordinating the switchover.

The aim of Digital Outreach is to help consumers who will not be entitled to assistance through the Government’s Digital Switchover Help Scheme, which is open only to people who are either aged over 75, registered blind or partially sighted, or entitled to attendance or constant attendance allowance, mobility supplement or disability living allowance.

Digital Outreach will help people who would not have been eligible for the switchover scheme, including 65 to 75-year-olds.

“We were concerned about people who wouldn’t have qualified,” said Leonie Vlachos, manager for digital inclusion at Age Concern. “There may be a large number of older people or people with sight loss who are not claiming the benefits they’re entitled to, so they wouldn’t show up on the system.”

The charities involved are being paid for their work.

David Mortimer, head of public affairs at Digital UK, said: “Working with the third sector is an important means of giving extra support and advice to those who would most benefit from it at a local level, particularly where they are not entitled to the direct support of the Digital Switchover Help Scheme.”

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