Residents in Calne, Devizes and Marlborough are being asked to champion the benefits of getting online and offer support and encouragement to those who aren’t.

It is estimated there are around 68,000 people in the county who have never experienced the benefits of the internet. 

As a result, the Wiltshire Online team, part of Wiltshire Council, is asking people to become volunteer coordinators and be part of a team of Digital Champions. They will work in their local community, and offer support and guidance to people about how to get online and the benefits it brings.

The volunteers can give as much time as they wish, at a time and place convenient for both them and the learner.

A successful project is already running in Melksham with more than 80 learners having already received free online support.

The Wiltshire Online Team will also work with local organisations such as The Calne Community Hub and county wide such as Age UK Wiltshire, The Learning Curve, Carers Support Wiltshire and the Independent Living Centre to ensure the most vulnerable and socially isolated members of the community can benefit from the digital champion service.

There are many benefits to being online including keeping contact with friends and family no matter where in the world they may be, being able to shop at a person’s own leisure and convenience, having a wealth of information available at the touch of a button and also being able to book hotels and flights in a matter of minutes.

John Thomson, cabinet member for communities said: “We are delighted with the number of digital volunteer coordinators we have in Melksham and I’m sure we’ll get big numbers in other areas too.

“We have strong communities in Wiltshire and this type of project brings them even closer together. I’m sure those who aren’t yet online will be really impressed with the benefits and convenience it can bring to their lives.”

To further support people to get online, Wiltshire Council will be rolling out superfast broadband across the county over the next three years, ensuring residents and businesses can have quick easy access to the internet.

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