Covid-19 highlighted the digital divide. Like many other establishments, the Rainbow Family Centre in Inverclyde helped families to connect by providing both devices and Wifi.
Family Support Worker Catherine McIntyre shares what families were facing:
“If they don't have Wifi they wouldn't have that connection with us, cause everything was limited, the children were dropped off at a safe distance and taken in. When I had fed this back it was decided that the devices were not on loan anymore, the families could actually keep these devices. And if they didn’t have Wifi we supplied a year’s supply.”
The initial funding for this came from the Scottish government, and then Cash for Kids stepped in. Catherine describes how The Rainbow Centre is able to tap into various sources like this. “We’re very fortunate with what we’ve established over the years with our connections. So we’ve had phone calls from organisations to say, ‘we have this, can you make use of it’ and usually we can.”
As Catherine points out, digital connection is particularly important:
“You’re included at the end of the day, you’re not any different to a family who can afford devices and Wifi. It’s just to be included and what most people take for granted.”
Parents said that:
“I was unsure how to use a laptop but getting one helped me learn and now I'm quite good with it.
“I couldn't afford internet so getting a laptop and free internet was great through lockdown.”
“Got us through the pandemic.”
“Helped my wean with her Glow.”
“Kept us all occupied as a family.”
“I couldn't afford to buy a laptop so my kids would have missed out.”