Mencap handed £1m of government funds to help organisations develop digital strategies

A new £1m fund being delivered by the learning disability charity Mencap will help support 60 partner organisations to develop digital strategies and move their services online.

The money has been donated by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Pears Foundation to help the charity and its network of partners improve access to technology and help reduce loneliness among people with a learning disability. 

The grant is part of the government’s Community Match Challenge scheme, which was introduced as part of the £750m bailout package for the sector, announced in April

Mencap said people with a learning disability were one of the groups that had been hit the hardest during the coronavirus pandemic. 

This is because of a loss of routine, difficulties staying in touch with family and keeping active without support, the charity said. 

Mencap’s new programme, called Let's Get Digital, will provide digital skills training for people with a learning disability, as well as access to equipment, internet access and ongoing support to use digital platforms.

The funds will be shared among 60 organisations already affiliated to Mencap. 

The initiative will help people with a learning disability stay connected to the world and access wider community services.

Edel Harris, chief executive of Mencap, said: “The world we live in is becoming increasingly digital – we have seen this during the coronavirus pandemic, and we are all using technology more in our day-to-day lives. 

“People with a learning disability often struggle to access and use digital tools. 

“It is vital that they are not left behind.”

Baroness Barran, the minister for civil society, said: "Helping everyone to access the digital world has never been more important as many of us rely on technology to stay in touch with friends and family.”

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