A NEW project is being launched in the county to address digital inclusion and help people who are experiencing loneliness and social isolation to get online.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the role of digital connections has become more important than ever.

Called Pembrokeshire Digital Connections, the project will support people to gain the skills, knowledge, support and confidence to get online, as well as provide equipment on a short-term loan basis so that people can ‘try before they buy’.

With 5,600 people shielding at the height of the pandemic in Pembrokeshire, as well as thousands more self-isolating, many people have found staying in contact with friends, family and neighbours more difficult.

Undertaking tasks such as shopping, getting up to date information and accessing community services has also been hard. However, for those who are not online, these connections and activities are even more problematic.

The project brings together Community Hub partners Pembrokeshire County Council; Hywel Dda University Health Board; the Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services (PAVS) and Delta Wellbeing along with Digital Communities Wales, Age Cymru Dyfed, PLANED, Span Arts, VC Gallery, POINT and a number of other community partners.

Pembrokeshire Digital Connections hopes to bring together existing and new initiatives so that there is a clear and easy to understand digital offer for people who may be experiencing loneliness or social isolation, or who could improve their wellbeing by getting online.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transformation and IT, Neil Prior, said: "It really is never too late to get online, and as we move into what could be a long a difficult winter for many people, this initiative could be a lifeline.

“If you've been putting off getting online for whatever reason, why not give this a go? There's nothing to lose and it could really make a difference.”

Gwyneth Jones (PAVS) welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the new project: “Community Connectors are looking forward to working with partners to enhance our collective digital offer to people in Pembrokeshire, so that more people can access on-line services and information, stay connected with their families, take part in activities and learn new skills.”

If you know someone who would benefit from some support to get online or you would like to find out more about the project, please contact the Pembrokeshire Community Hub on 01437 776301 (Monday to Friday, 9.00 – 5.00) or communitycovid19@pembrokeshire.gov.uk