New initiative to help homeless access employment, training and support

Cornwall Council has launched a new initiative to lend laptops and tablets to residents who have no access to the kind of connectivity many of us take for granted. 

The council’s digital inclusion team is there to help the digitally excluded and this new initiative will see devices loaned through partner organisations in return for data about the impact the new kit is having. 

Homeless charity St Petrocs’ new Vocational Development Project are the first organisation to sign up and the Council’s Digital Inclusion team is on the lookout for more partners to take part in the scheme. 

St Petrocs new team focusses on addressing the root causes of homelessness, developing a sustainable approach to ending homelessness in Cornwall, and encouraging people they currently provide with accommodation to participate in training and work opportunities.  

St Petrocs will lend devices to those they are supporting so they can take part in online training and access work opportunities as well as healthcare and other services.  Having access to devices and developing digital skills are a barrier for many of the residents. 

Melissa Winstanley, Vocational Development Administrator at St Petrocs said: “A lot of our clients don’t have access to IT. They want to be able to enhance their skills, which going forward will help them find suitable courses and progress into suitable work.” 

The Council’s team is also helping build the skills needed to access online services and training. Cornwall Council trained six members of the St Petrocs team to be Digital Champions.  

Digital Inclusion officer Kym Ley said “We support them, and they support the clients. It works so well”. Melissa added “The training was fab. Really good and really useful”. 

In 2019, 13% of residents in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly had never used the internet, and a quarter of adults lacked basic digital skills. As training, healthcare, and other services are increasingly going online, it’s vital they are not left behind.  

Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for customers, Richard Pears, said:  “We are committed to helping people gain skills and access opportunities and we want to work with more partners. Any organisation can apply, and we can loan devices out. We need a monthly feedback report in return and their clients can have those laptops or tablets for as long as they need”. 

Organisations interested in accessing devices and connectivity to support those they work with, and the Digital Champion training, should contact the Digital Inclusion team by emailing   

Story posted October 29 2021

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