Connecting Scotland - evaluation: qualitative research - implementation and early impact

Findings of research with organisations who applied for digital devices, through the Connecting Scotland programme, to distribute to people that they support.

Chapter 2: Programme overview and implementation

In this chapter we provide an overview of the experiences of organisations and SCVO in implementing the programme. This chapter has been informed by data provided by SCVO, survey data, interviews with representatives of applicant organisations, and interviews with key members of the SCVO team responsible for the programme.

Programme overview

Connecting Scotland has funded 670 unique organisations which between them have delivered a total of 1,737 projects. Across these projects, 17,700 Chromebooks, 18,400 iPads and 32,391 MiFi devices have been issued to people in need across Scotland. The table below provides details of the three rounds of funding to date.


Date phase announced

Funds £

Target group

Target numbers

Applications open

Dates phases delivered


May '20


People at a high clinical risk of Covid-19


Jun-Jul '20

Pilots: Apr-Jun '20

Main roll out: Aug-Oct '20


Aug '20


Young care leavers & families with children


Round 1: Aug-Oct '20

Round 2: Nov '20-Jan '21

Dec '20-Mar '21

Winter Support

Nov '20


Socially isolated / older and disabled people


Round 1: Dec '20

Round 2: Jan '21

Jan-Mar '21

The total value of the programme to date is £48,095,700 and it has a target of delivering a total of 60,000 devices by the end of 2022. Devices have been distributed widely across Scotland as can be seen in Figure 1 on the next page.

Figure 1: Distribution of devices by local authority area (as at 20/8/21, covering Phases 1, 2 and Winter Support)

Local authority




No. of projects
















Argyll & Bute










Dumfries & Galloway










East Ayrshire





East Dunbartonshire





East Lothian





East Renfrewshire








































Na h-Eileanan Siar










North Ayrshire





North Lanarkshire










Perth & Kinross










Scottish Borders










South Ayrshire





South Lanarkshire










West Dunbartonshire





West Lothian















Through Phase 1, devices were distributed to 8,057 people, 7,205 of whom were clinically vulnerable, and 852 people with other vulnerabilities. This built on the 470 devices that had been distributed as part of the initial pilot programmes to a mixed group of people with disabilities, people who were socially isolated, families with children, and refugees.

In Phase 2, devices were distributed to 4,116 young care leavers, 17,026 families with children, and 1,527 people with other vulnerabilities.

Through the Winter Support programme, 4,887 older people and people with disabilities received a device through Connecting Scotland.

Clarity of programme purpose

The vast majority of those we interviewed during the evaluation felt that the purpose of the programme when they initially applied to it was very clear. Likewise, 88% of respondents to our survey found the concept of the programme quite or very clear from the outset. Only 2% reported having found it difficult to understand.

One interviewee, for example, reported that the programme purpose was not clear to them at the outset and that there were a few things like the digital champion role (and requirements with regards to level of support) and the speed at which devices had to be issued (within one month of receipt) which they felt could have been clearer ahead of applying.

However, overall the purpose of the programme has been very clear to participating organisations and this has been one of the programme's clear successes. It has made it accessible to a wide range of organisations, including organisations that did not have previous experience of participating in or applying to government-funded programmes. Many evaluation participants compared it favourably in this respect to other government programmes they had been involved in.

How organisations identified the opportunity to apply

Most applicants we interviewed had found out about the opportunity to apply either through a contact in their own organisation, through some form of communication from SCVO, or via social media. This tallied with survey responses as Figure 2 on the next page shows – 60% had found out about it via information sent to their organisation, 37% had received notification from SCVO and 10% had read about the opportunity on social media. Of the remaining 10%, a large proportion had heard about it by word of mouth.

Figure 2: How organisations found out about the programme (n=547)
Bar chart shows that 60% of organisations were directly sent information about Connecting Scotland. 37% heard about it through SCVO, 10% through social media and 11% in another way.

This, coupled with the varied type and location of applicant organisations, suggests that the range of outlets SCVO used to advertise the opportunity for funding were sufficiently wide ranging.

There were no suggestions provided for alternative dissemination routes.

Experiences of the application process

The vast majority of applicants found the application process very straightforward, particularly compared to other programmes they had applied to in the past.

As Figure 3 on the next page indicates, 77% of respondents to our survey found the process either easy or very easy, 20% found it neither easy nor difficult, and only 3% found it difficult.

Figure 3: Ease of application process (n=547)
32% found it applying very easy. 45% found it easy. 20% said it was neither easy nor difficult. 2% found it difficult. 1% said it was very difficult.

Furthermore, 96% of survey respondents indicated that adequate support was provided during the application process. Of the 4% who had not found the support adequate, the majority of responses related to a lack of feedback about reasons for unsuccessful applications, or queries around eligibility; or concerns related to having to complete individual applications for each local authority area an organisation operates in. We return to these issues later in the report.

Amongst interviewees, feedback was also very positive.

"The application process was much easier than other programmes – there were far fewer hoops to jump through and as a result it focused on the individuals in need more."

"The application was straightforward, and we were able to complete it without any additional support."

"The application form was really good, really clear."

However, one area of frustration that was raised by a number of national organisations was that separate applications had to be submitted for each local authority area that they worked in. They reported that this created additional administration at both application stage and in relation to data collection and reporting.

"It was frustrating that we had to complete four separate application forms, have four separate contracts and compile four sets of monitoring data, when in practice it was managed by us as one programme."

"Although a third sector organisation might operate nationally, that does not mean that we additional capacity

Some organisations also felt that the eligibility criteria for target groups was too specific. This was not limited to a particular type or size of organisation – a range were of this view. These organisations noted that they would prefer that need was identified and justified by the organisations themselves, rather than being prescribed at programme level. This may be something which would benefit from further consultation with applicant organisations.

"The eligibility criteria have been tricky – there has not been enough opportunity for young people (18-25 year olds) to receive a device, unless they were in receipt of employability support."

"It was challenging to shoe-horn people into different categories. Organisations need to be trusted to apply for those who are most digitally excluded."

Types of devices selected/issued/applied for

As noted in the introductory chapter, to date participants in the programme have received 17,700 Chromebooks, 18,400 iPads and 32,391 MiFi devices.

Through our survey, we sought to identify the reasons why organisations selected Chromebooks or iPads. The findings are illustrated in Figure 4 below:

Figure 4: Why types of devices were issued (n=547)
Chart shows that 15% based their decision on preference. 56% based it on the needs of families in their area. 40% on people's accessibility requirements. 44% said the decision was based on what the Government had made available. 4% indicated another reason. Respondents could choose multiple answers.

Interview feedback indicates that most people were content with the devices that they received.

"Apple products are great for older people – the set-up is so easy."

"The devices were ideal. Good quality products."

A few, however, did not receive the devices they had requested (for example, they may have received Chromebooks instead of iPads, or a mix of both when they requested only one) and in some instances this impacted on their usability. For example, some organisations felt that some devices were better suited than others to people with disabilities or older people, while others working in a training setting had different preferences. For example, one training organisation reported that Chromebooks did not work well for college platforms, and in fact these organisations felt that laptops would be preferable in future for learning providers.

Some organisations operating in rural areas in particular encountered issues with regards to connectivity. The MiFi devices were provided through Vodaphone and a good connection was not always available. This improved as the programme progressed, with a second provider being appointed, and organisations were also able to make a business case to SCVO for other providers.

Some interviewees felt that it would be preferable to allow organisations to select which devices they would prefer, rather than allocating on the basis of what was available at the time.

Distribution of devices

For many organisations, distribution of devices was relatively straightforward. A few did encounter some challenges however. For example, some organisations had challenges distributing devices, particularly in the earlier rounds when still in the midst of a harder lockdown, with devices having to be sent to people's homes where they also then had to find space to store them. This seemed to be a particular concern for volunteer-run organisations. A few of whom were concerned about insurance implications of storing the devices.

Some organisations also had challenges with delivery organisations sending unclear delivery notifications, or with devices initially being sent to the wrong part of their organisation. These issues mainly arose in the first round, and experiences have been better in subsequent rounds.

For some organisations, the timeframe between receiving the devices and having to have them issued to recipients (one month) was too short. Some organisations discussed this with SCVO and were given flexibility but others continued to face challenges with this.

Some organisations reported having experienced gaps between receipt of the devices and receipt of the MiFi devices (for example, one reported having had a three week gap), which meant that it took longer to get people set-up and connected.

As a result of ongoing monitoring and improvements made by SCVO, these issues were largely ironed out as the programme progressed.

Role of Digital Champions

The vast majority of organisations we consulted were easily able to identify digital champions within their organisation. These were usually members of staff who were well-placed to take on this role – either because they had strong relationships with their local communities; had good IT skills; or worked directly with service users who were eligible to receive devices through the programme. Some digital champions were other types of staff who were unable to carry out their usual job due to COVID-19 restrictions – for example one organisation had maintenance and repair staff act as digital champions.

SCVO data shows that for 36,000 devices issued, some 3000 digital champions have been trained. They voiced some concerns that this number is far lower than expected and low relative to the number of devices issued. They are keen to avoid projects providing devices to people without adequate support. The actual number of digital champions may be higher than this as it is unknown how many did not take part in the training offered. Feedback from interviewees suggests that there is reasonable capacity in organisations to support the number of participants currently receiving devices, but that this position is likely to change as organisations move out of Covid-19 restrictions and staff return to their usual way of working. We return to this issue later.

Survey respondents were asked to provide data on the numbers of digital champions they had appointed. This showed that the average number of digital champions was four, with the 68 being the highest number in any one organisation.

Some organisations were unable to identify digital champions within their own organisation and worked in partnership with other local organisations to ensure that their participants still had access to suitable support. Some were able to access a a pool of digital champions that had been appointed and trained by other organisations.

Some participants in the evaluation observed that they were able to recruit some members of staff to be digital champions, e.g. social workers, who in normal circumstances (pre-pandemic) may not have had the time to take part. Their input was considered valuable but there is uncertainty about the longer-term sustainability of drawing on such members of staff's time. The Connecting Scotland model relies on the goodwill of organisations to identify, recruit, and dedicate time to the digital champion role. Some interviewees raised concerns about the amount of in-kind staff time that had to be dedicated to the programme, either through the digital champion role, or in relation to management and administration.

This is at the heart of one of the key considerations for the future sustainability of the programme.

Through our survey we explored with respondents whether they had appointed digital champions prior to applying for funding and 63% reported that this was the case. 20% had to recruit them following receipt of funding, and the remaining 17% had a mix of some already in place, and others requiring to be appointed following receipt of funding. Of those organisations that waited to appoint until after they received the funding, 85% reported that this had not caused any delays to implementation.

Some organisations appointed volunteers as digital champions. A few used staff initially and are now, as their staff are needed to return to normal duties, training volunteers to take over.

A small minority of organisations found it more challenging to identify digital champions. These were predominantly volunteer-run organisations that felt they had neither the capacity or skills to fulfil the digital champion role themselves.

Almost no organisations reported any challenges with churn of digital champions to date. Those who did had not experienced any specific issues that could not be managed.

Training of digital champions

SCVO, through its training partner the Mhor Collective, delivers a comprehensive range of training for digital champions. This begins with Core Digital Champion Training, and digital champions then have the opportunity to access a range of other training to enhance learning and skills development. These training opportunites include Chrome Book and iPad demos; Employability; Children, Familes and Young People; Foundation Skills and Communication Tools; Handling Information and Content; Problem Solving and Staying Safe Online; Transacting – Shopping, Public Services and Online Banking.

Through the survey, we asked respondents how easy it was to accommodate the digital champion training. 68% had found it easy or very easy to accommodate, 28% found it neither easy nor difficult, and only 5% had found it difficult.

93% reported that the training had adequately equipped the digital champions to undertake their role with only 7% indicating that it had not equipped them to undertake the role.

"All of our digital champions undertook the training and they found it excellent."

"Our DCs thought the training was very good."

This largely tallied with feedback received through interviews. However, while everybody interviewed welcomed the training, a small number of interviewees felt that it had been too basic. Some felt that it had not included sufficient training in how best to support a particular target group, however this was not the purpose of the training. The training focused on training them to be a digital champion and was designed on the basis that staff in organisations already had expertise in engaging with their service users:

"The training was too basic and did not take sufficient account of the needs of disabled people. The initial two and a half hour sessions were not enough – our staff had lots of follow-up questions."

"Our DCs had mixed views about the training. The felt it was helpful but too basic, and too long."

A couple of interviewees also felt that the training was better suited to a process that involved sitting next to someone which was obviously not possible during the pandemic.

Feedback about the handbooks developed by SCVO was positive - "The handbooks were very good and well-pitched." One organisation also noted that the picture-based format in the handbooks was very good for people with low literacy levels.

Engaging with participants

Identification of participants

Most organisations identified recipients/demand in advance which meant that issuing the devices once these were received was straightforward.

Of the organisations responding to our survey, 67% indicated that they had reached out to eligible clients before receiving devices from Connecting Scotland, and 33% had done so afterwards. Of those, however, most had already determined demand and had a clear route for identification of eligible people and for distribution. 67% of those who identified recipients after receiving devices indicated that this had not delayed implementation of their project, and 33% reported that it had caused some delays. This mirrors what organisations told us through interivew:

"We had conducted a survey at the start of lockdown about various issues including digital connectivity, so we knew where there was demand."

"We had some people in mind ahead of applying and some were allocated afterwards on a needs-basis."

"We have a residents' panel that meets regularly. We used it to establish who needed a device before we applied."

"We already had a list of people waiting for digital assets."

A small number of organisations encountered challenges. One organisation, for example, had hoped to receive referrals through the Social Prescriber in their local GP practice but this proved fruitless. These challenges were exceptional however and evaluation participants who had encountered challenges with identifying recipients described SCVO as understanding, supportive and flexible in relation to these issues.

Providing support to participants

Organiations' experiences of providing support to participants varied. While all were confident that their participants had received support when they needed it, the level of support required tended to vary depending on the type of service users being supported. For example, many organisations supporting young people and young families found that they already had a reasonable understanding of how devices worked (many had previous experience of using mobile phones). The did not tend to require significant amounts of technical support – they were described as "already tech savvy" but needed support to set up the devices initially, or if something stopped working.

This contrasted with organisations supporting older people or people with disabilities, who reported that the level of support required by their participants was far more extensive.

Experiences of volunteer-led organisations

We interviewed a small number of volunteer-run organisations and a number of issues arose in relation to their experiences.

Overall, they seemed to have found the application process straightforward, in line with other organisations, further reinforcing our sense that the application form was appropriate to the wide range of organisations applying. However, given their reliance on volunteers, they emphasised the benefit of having as much forward notice as possible for application deadlines.

In addition, some volunteer-run organisations operate nationally and had encountered the same challenges as other organisations with applications being developed for individual local authority areas.

They encountered greater challenges than other organisations in, for example, taking delivery of devices, with one organisation reporting having to take receipt of 64 devices into their home. Not only were there practical challenges in terms of having to be in the home to take receipt, they also raised concerns about insurance cover for the period of time that the devices were in their home.

Administration of the programme was reported to be harder when volunteers are involved. One organisation noted, for example, that it is harder to compel volunteers to provide required data about who their devices had been allocated to, for example.

SCVO raised concerns about new volunteers taking on the role of digital champion as they felt they were unlikely to have the level of insight into the person's full range of needs. SCVO discouraged this model from the outset as they felt that the digital champion role was more suited to employees or volunteers who had existing relationships with service users.

Role of SCVO as implementation lead

SCVO implements Connecting Scotland on behalf of Scottish Government. SCVO was the lead on digital inclusion for Scottish Government and co-designed the original model for Connecting Scotland. SCVO described a close working relationship with Scottish Government which felt like an "equal collaboration".

The Connecting Scotland model pre-dated the pandemic, but the pandemic provided the impetus for the programme to be implemented. This happened at speed, in response to need. Staff reported that the advantage of this speed was that the process was far less bureaucratic than would usually be the case and SCVO was given the freedom to implement as they saw fit. Examples of the ways in which they were able to be more nimble included using organisations that were included in Government frameworks but negotiating better deals with them; and when devices were not able to be provided through these suppliers, they simply called a shop to acquire additional devices. This would not normally be possible without more complex procurement processes involved.

Latterly, more traditional arrangements have been put in place by Scottish Government – for example, a project board – however, there is a sense from SCVO that these do not add sufficient value for the time they take up, and tend to focus on risk and audit rather than effective decision making related to delivery.

While the speed at which the programme was put into place was seen as positive, SCVO staff recognised that this led to teething problems arising. However, these were able to be resolved on an ongoing basis, and each round has been smoother than the one before. Continual improvement has been at the heart of their approach, and the organisation has demonstrated a real desire to learn about what is working well or less well. Feedback from interviewees supported this view.

Examples of improvements in processes included:

  • Addressing a bottleneck when contracts came back in to SCVO by increasing the number of staff processing these
  • Improving the functionality of the database to make data entry easier for organisations

SCVO has in place a team of staff who operate a help desk during working hours. They respond to both telephone and email queries. Where necessary, they can make direct contact with partner organisations, such as Vodafone, in order to resolve organisations' issues or queries.

Feedback about the role of SCVO in the Connecting Scotland programme has been universally positive. Organisations across the board reported that SCVO staff responded quickly and helpfully to queries, and were supportive in finding solutions to challenges reported.

In relation to the application process specifically, 96% of respondents to our survey indicated that adequate support had been provided during this stage of the process.

"The help desk was excellent. They helped with everything from failure of the MIFIs to replacing laptops."

"It felt like we had a real safety net with SCVO."

Staff at SCVO provided similar feedback – acknowledging that there had been plenty of challenges but that due to the expertise available to them, solutions were invariably found. They described a lot of goodwill from partner organisations, such as Vodafone, which supported improvements as the programme progressed.

Challenges arising with implementation

While overall feedback about the programme was very positive, some organisations did encounter some challenges in implementation.

49% of respondents to our survey found the implementation of the programme either easy or very easy and 44% had encountered some challenges with the implementation. 7% found it difficult or very difficult.

Challenges were not specific to any particular geographical area.

We describe some of the most common challenges below.

Inputting data to the SCVO database

The issue raised most frequently related to challenges collecting and submitting data to SCVO. While 71% of respondents had not experienced any challenges inputting data to the SCVO system, 29% had.

"It wasn't made clear what type of data we would need to collect from recipients before inputting data – knowing this in advance would have made the process quicker and less clunky."

"Importing from the Excel sheet didn't work. Had some issues with the login when tried to access it later. Couldn't check what had input already."

"I am still uncertain if all of the data has been stored effectively despite updating the system several times. It has been quite stressful and frustrating."

People's experiences of the system did seem to improve after the first round, when a number of glitches were resolved by SCVO.

"The database had a number of glitches in it, this improved when a new online form for inputting data was implemented."

Many people reported being concerned about the amount of administrative time that had been required.

Delivery of devices

Some organisations reported issues with delivery of devices. These included not knowing when devices would arrive which made it hard for planning – for example, one organisation that is involved in running training sessions for young people found it hard to schedule these as they did not know when the devices would arrive. Others faced challenges with delivery companies delivering outwith office hours or to incorrect parts of the organisation. Delivery issues were compounded during the first round due to the impact of lockdown. These appear to have eased in subsequent rounds.

Challenges with iTunes accounts

One interviewee flagged concerns that an iTunes account is required to download apps on an iPad which they reported as being intimidating for some people as it asked for personal details, bank details etc.

Malfunctioning sim cards and MiFi devices

Some organisations had issues with sim cards and MiFi devices not working but SCVO provided support to resolve these issues, or organisations were able to resolve them themselves.

Poor WiFi coverage

Internet coverage in some rural areas is very limited and a number of organisations flagged this as an issue, which emphasises the importance of the roll-out of high speed broadband in rural areas.

Cross-over with other delivery organisations

Some organisations operated in areas where other organisations were also in receipt of devices through Connecting Scotland. They described some challenges with the same service users being contacted by both organisations, and felt that this had resulted in some time-wasting.

Challenges with supporting older people to set up and use devices

A number of organisations reported that allocating devices and supporting people to set them up was particularly challenging with older people during the first lockdown. One organisation reported that this was even more challenging as they worked with older people with hearing impairments. Some organisations resorted to visiting people and standing on their doorsteps to provide advice and support.

"Service users were absolute beginners and mostly older people so they needed a lot of support to use the device. Support workers need to embed 1:1 support with their other work, and to "find the hook" to encourage people to take part."

"We travelled the length and breadth of West and East Lothian to get people set up!"

Some organisations also tried to coach family members, so that they could support the older person with the device.

"It took us a number of persuasive conversations with older people to convince them it really was free! It was a welcome surprise for people."

"Having asked only for iPads, we got a mix of devices – it would have been better if we had just got one type of device."

What worked well in relation to implementation

We asked survey respondents to indicate what had worked particularly well in relation to programme delivery. The results, illustrated in Figure 5 overleaf, show that issuing and receiving devices was reported to have worked best, closely followed by reaching participants. Significant numbers of respondents also indicated that the speed at which the programme had been set up had been positive. Fewer respondents agreed that training digital champions and identifying and recruiting digital champions had worked well, which reflects some of the challenges highlighted earlier in this chapter.

Figure 5: What has worked well (n=547)
The chart shows that nearly 3 quarters of respondents said that receiving and issuing the devices had gone well. Recruiting and training digital champions was only identified as having gone well by around a third of respondents.

Other things that were cited as particularly successful components of the programme included the provision of free data for two years - "The Connecting Scotland offer of data is so important. How can it be sustained in future? This is critical." In addition to the devices themselves, organisations reported that having the support to set up and use the devices was a successful part of the programme.

In conducting the evaluation interviews with applicant organisations, many other examples of good practice were cited. These included:

Using local managers to be the bridge between the resources and distribution. "We could get the devices to the right people quickly through good quality conversations on the ground."

Having one person as the lead digital champion

Using hooks to engage people – for example, one organisation engaged older people in solitaire on their iPads which enabled them to become familiar with functionality.

One organisation involved trainees on Modern Apprenticeships to support older people with their devices to encourage inter-generational engagement and with the hope that it may interest them in being involved in working with older people.

Capacity of organisations

Most organisations that took part in the evaluation reported having sufficient capacity to distribute the devices they received and ensure ongoing support to people. Only a small minority reported any challenges with managing the number of devices they had received and this usually related to problems identifying as many people in need as they had anticipated at application stage.

While this has largely been the case to date, this has begun to change as staff are moving back into their pre-pandemic roles, leaving them less time to devote to Connecting Scotland. Some feel that it may be impossible to manage the level of support that they have provided to date alongside their normal day job once COVID-restrictions are lifted.

Many organisations are concerned that it may not be sustainable going forward without staff resources being paid for. "We would definitely be interested in supporting more older people with devices but opted not to apply to the most recent round due to the staffing resources required."

Some organisations have been most challenged in relation to the administration involved in implementing the programme, with some struggling to complete data requirements. This tallies with feedback from SCVO which indicates that around 40% of organisations are failing to provide data requested on time. This is not limited to smaller organisations - large organisations feature equally in relation to this issue.

Experiences of unsuccessful organisations

According to data provided by SCVO, 512 applicants have been unsuccessful in applying for Connecting Scotland funding to date. As Figure 6 below shows, these organisations have been distributed across Scotland, with a higher rate of attrition being reported in Glasgow and Edinburgh which were described by SCVO as being consistently over-subscribed.

Figure 6: Number and distribution of unsuccessful applicants

Local authority

Not Awarded







Argyll & Bute




Dumfries & Galloway




East Ayrshire


East Dunbartonshire


East Lothian


East Renfrewshire
















Na h-Eileanan Siar




North Ayrshire


North Lanarkshire




Perth & Kinross




Scottish Borders




South Ayrshire


South Lanarkshire




West Dunbartonshire


West Lothian


National **




We endeavoured to engage with unsuccessful applicant organisations, but only a small number were willing to take part in the evaluation. Of these, some reported having received no feedback about why they were unsuccessful, although we understand that feedback was available to all unsuccessful applicants.

"There was no information as to why we weren't successful in both occasions. And we thought all questions were answered as asked."

"We weren't successful and we weren't then given any support to re-apply."

One organisation reported having been told that they were being over-ambitious with initial numbers and were given a quarter of their original request for devices, however they eventually got this number topped up to more than what they originally asked for through subsequent application rounds. They noted that this had made planning more difficult than if they had received the full allocation initially.

SCVO staff reported that weaker applications tended to be weaker in relation to the support side. Their staff reported confidence that the process had resulted in organisations being turned down for the right reaons.

This feedback, while from a relatively small number of organisations, suggests that the feedback and support available to unsuccessful applicants needs to be made more visible to them.

Suggested improvements for future programme delivery

While overall feedback was positive and organisations were very supportive of the programme, interviewees and survey respondents made some suggestions for improvements which can be grouped into the following key issues:

Enable national organisations to submit one application for multiple local authority areas to minimise administrative time and costs.

Allow organisations to apply for a data connection only – some people can afford to purchase a device but cannot afford the ongoing costs of an internet connection in their homes.

Enable organisations to apply for laptops as well as Chromebooks or iPads (this was highlighted as particular need for training organisations).

Consider allowing organisations to apply for a number of devices to keep in stock for future clients who require these.

Trust organisations to order the types of devices they need, rather than allocating iPads and Chromebooks depending on availability. For example, organisations need to be able to take account of the specific needs of people with disabilities.

Build more sharing of good practice into the Digital Champion training – for example, things like using a screen-sharing app when providing support can be helpful.

Shift the focus to helping people to use devices for real-life applications – for example, for drawing down benefits, skills, applying for jobs etc.

Consider amending the application process to enable organisations to describe any innovative aspects of their delivery approach.

Allow for more innovation in approach by organisations – enable them to apply for devices, connectivity, staffing resources to address digital inclusion based on demand in their area. "Scottish Government needs to give up control and trust organisations more – maintaining the ease of process that Connecting Scotland has demonstrated can work."

SCVO staff could come to larger sites and undertake digital champion training for a group of participants at one time.

Drop the restrictive eligibility criteria and enable organisations to apply for whoever is most digitally excluded.

Involve a panel of participants in future programme design.

Ensure that DCs receive sufficient support for their health and wellbeing – one organisation was concerned that some DCs are dealing with people who are very vulnerable and some even suicidal and it is not clear whether DCs are equipped or supported to manage these sorts of issues. DCs have also had to deal with people being frightened about COVID-19 specifically. "You have a duty to think about what's going to happen if you phone someone and they are in distress." This is an important point, which is why the programme has advocated for an embedded model where digital champions have pre-existing relationships with clients and therefore have the skills and knowledge to deal with other issues they may encounter (e.g. isolation or distress). In addition, SCVO checks that organisations have appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures in place as part of the agreement they sign with the organisation.

Ensure checks are put in place to monitor levels or patterns of usage amongst clients, thereby enabling organisations to contact the person in case there are issues?



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