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Bridges Project launches facility to tackle digital exclusion

Bridges Project has officially opened our new GetConnected IT & Education Suite, which will help up to 500 young people in East Lothian and Midlothian annually to gain digital access and skills.

GetConnected is part of the charity’s wider drive to tackle digital exclusion among the vulnerable young people we work with, which is a challenge that has become even more evident during the pandemic.

The IT & Education Suite, which offers a range of brand new laptops and tablets, will improve the experience and educational and employability outcomes for Bridges Project’s young people. It will also allow staff to assist more individuals with applications for housing, Universal Credit, college, jobs, and other day-to-day applications that require digital access and basic digital skills.

GetConnected is specifically targeted at young people aged 12-25 with limited digital skills or no access to the internet and digital equipment at home. However, all young people who access Bridges Project’s services will be able to use it and the facility will also be open to young people from other local organisations upon request. It is therefore estimated that it will benefit as many as 500 young people annually.  

The launch of GetConnected took place on 21 July, with talks from Bridges Project’s Chair Karen Aitchison, CEO Emma Scarcliffe and Playback Learning Academy’s Liz Fitzpatrick. As well as this, Grant Hamilton presented Bridges Project’s new Bridges Foundation skills development programme and Neil Maclean, Daniel Jordinson and Lauren Thompson talked about our Listening Peers peer mentoring programme.

Attendees at the launch included local MSP Colin Beattie, MSYPs Olivia Brown and Callum Gibson as well as representatives from the police and partner organisations MYPAS and Venture Scotland. They all enjoyed tea, refreshments and cakes made by some of the young people Bridges Project works with.

Karen Aitchison, Bridges Project’s Chair, said:

 “The concept and need for this IT & Education Suite has been in the pipeline for quite some while and it’s fantastic to launch the completion of it.

“In the truly inflective way that Bridges Project have, they pulled together their resources and their experiences over the last couple of years and used it to shape the way that this suite has come together and how it will be used going forward.

“Thanks are due in no small measure to the major funders – Musselburgh Area Partnership and the Clothworkers’ Foundation. Without their generous support developing this, it just could not have happened. We also have a big thanks to Sidey, YPI Scotland, the Wood Foundation and Ruby and Elena from North Berwick High School – who won the YPI Scotland grant for Bridges Project.

“Moving forward, Bridges will continue to touch lives as it does. They will work in partnership with appropriate agencies and this new suite is a monumental resource for young people and staff. The organisation is really, really grateful for all the support that has come our way to do this together.”

GetConnected has been funded by major contributions from the Musselburgh Area Partnership and the Clothworkers’ Foundation. The fenestration company Sidey has also contributed with a donation while another donation came through a Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) Scotland grant secured by students from North Berwick High School and administered by the Wood Foundation.

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