As businesses ramp up their digital skills and take advantage of programs like DER3, the United Way Greater Victoria is stepping in to help individuals access computers and technology to better their lives as we all navigate the COVID-10 pandemic.
They have awarded a grant to the Coalition of Neighbourhood Houses to establish a pilot community help desk and technology lending program for non-profit agencies who provide support to the most vulnerable individuals, families and seniors in the capital region.
This pilot program, hosted by the Sooke Family Resource Society, is also supported through the Federal Government’s Emergency Community Support Fund (through which UWGV plays a pivotal role in managing and distributing funds locally).
The Digital Divide–Community Technology Help Desk program will provide a virtual community help desk(s) and create a community-based technology/computer equipment lending program along with support services to help vulnerable individuals, families, seniors and non-profit service providers to navigate the virtual world.
A media release says the program is important because it’s been shown technology will play an important role in pivoting and reinventing community programming, sparking opportunities to create resilient agencies, individuals and families as we learn to navigate and succeed in the virtual world for the long-term.
“This service addresses a growing community need that has only gotten worse since COVID-19 hit,” says Nicky Logins, Executive Director for Sooke Family Resources Society. “I see it every day and how technology can make or break a person who is trying to navigate a complex system looking for support. Community service agencies have also had to rapidly move to virtual programming and services and, they too, need training and assistance. The Community Technology Help Desk is a great solution to bridge the digital divide.”
To bring the concept of a virtual community help desk and technology lending program to life, UWGV collaborated with Camosun College and the Greater Victoria Public Library.
“COVID-19 has demonstrated that technology is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a necessity,” said Mark Breslauer, CEO for United Way Greater Victoria. “For those who are vulnerable, the digital divide has grown into a chasm. The goal of this program is to provide access to technical assistance and equipment such as computers, phones, tablets and internet connections to vulnerable individuals. We will also serve community agencies so that they can provide critically important support to people in need across the CRD and Southern Gulf Islands.”
The Community Technology Help desk is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm at 236-638-2610 and 250-217-4978. To learn more visit uwgv.ca.