A NEW £5 million programme will be introduced for vulnerable residents in West Dunbartonshire who are not online during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Connecting Scotland programme will offer an internet connection, training and support, and a laptop or tablet to more than 9,000 people who are considered clinically high risk so they can access services, support and connect with friends and family during the pandemic.

Residents who take part in the programme will be paired with a “digital champion” to support them for six months while they get connected and find the information they need.

Aileen Campbell, communities secretary, said: “Access to the internet is a real lifeline during these difficult times, so we want to support people to get online and stay connected.

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“The advice is clear that we need to stay at home, but for those shielding and in a high risk group, and not online, we know this is difficult and can increase isolation and loneliness at a time they already feel vulnerable and might be missing other support.

“The internet helps us to keep in touch with friends and family and is an important way to find information on support services during this challenging time.”