Pembrokeshire County Council’s push and ambition to ensure county residents of all ages and abilities can have their lives improved by technology has been rewarded with a nomination for a prestigious local government award.
The Council is one of six finalists in the MJ Local Government Achievement Awards 2021 in the Digital Transformation category.
The award nomination praised the Council’s Social Services as driving forward with “strong focus on community connections and working with people to help them maintain their independence, choice and connectivity to society.”
It adds: “This is a good example of how the ‘tech’ is not the thing – it’s how people use it to build their communities that matters.
“The Council ensured it tackled the basic issues first (equipment, familiarity with apps, and digital skills and confidence).”
Through a partnership approach with local organisations and the voluntary sector, the focus has been on digital transformation and delivering a series of projects.
They often centred on providing digital equipment to keep in touch with others and their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic but also aided people to live independently with support and education of the use of digital devices.
This includes the Connect Pembrokeshire project which helped residents find community activities, make connections and support one another. This was a place where residents could offer or request help to or from neighbours and the wider community.
PCC purchased tablets and mobile WiFi devices to be loaned to the general public to enable people to have video calls with loved ones, health professionals and join activities and group meetings.
This led to the Pembrokeshire Digital Connections project which made headlines for a heart-warming story involving an elderly couple who had been kept apart for the first time in 60 years by the pandemic.
With the husband in a care home, the couple were unable to see one another due to Covid-19 restrictions, until both were provided with tablets and shown how to set up video calls.
Recognising the difference technology could make in supporting residents in Pembrokeshire it was decided to bring all organisations offering digital activities or support together.
The aim of this partnership is to co-ordinate and promote all digital support activity that is available across the county and this work continues.
The awards will be announced in the Autumn.
Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Social Services, Cllr Tessa Hodgson congratulated the team for their nomination.
Cllr Hodgson added: “I am extremely proud of the work that has been carried out to ensure that digital transformation means making the lives of everyone better, no matter their age or ability with technology.
“The focus has always been on the people and the outcome for them rather than the technology and using digital as a way of connecting people.
“The skills passed on will stand people in good stead as we move forward out of the pandemic and as technology continues to develop.”
If you know of someone who may need help getting connected or you are a community or voluntary group who may benefit from a short term loan of equipment to get connected, contact the Community Hub on 01437 776301.