£55,000 fund launched to support digital poverty in rural communities

Foundation News

£55,000 fund launched to support digital poverty in rural communities

10 Sep 2021

The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland is delighted to announce a new partnership with Broadband provider, Fibrus Networks Ltd.


This week saw the launch of the  Fibrus Community Fund enabling rural communities to stay connected online. The fund is aimed at addressing digital poverty and will award grants of £1,000 to enable local groups and organisations, to provide access to digital technology for the most vulnerable.


The fund has a particular focus on supporting grassroots organisations that support older people and young people aged 18 and under.


The Fibrus Community Fund will open in four phases in tandem with Fibrus’ build programme of new hyperfast full fibre broadband, with phase one opening at the end of September.


Marcus Cooper, Fund Development Manager commented on the importance of keeping rural communities connected.

“Coronavirus has highlighted the need for communities to remain connected and many groups and charities working with those most vulnerable in our communities are telling us that a strong and sustainable broadband connection in rural communities is vitally important.  The pandemic has massively increased our use of technology and it now plays a vital role in our daily lives. Our learnings from Covid highlight digital poverty as a major concern in rural areas, negatively impacting isolation and loneliness, especially among young people and older people. The Fibrus Community Fund will support those individuals in rural areas and begin to address the digital divide.”


Fibrus Managing Director, David Armstrong added:

“Fibrus is committed to supporting the communities in which we operate. By investing £55,000 through our new Fibrus Community Fund, we will be able to give back to some of the organisations doing wonderful work to enhance and support our thriving towns and villages across Northern Ireland.


“We’re looking for projects specifically aimed at young people who need greater access to technology or connectivity, as well as initiatives that combat digital exclusion amongst the elderly or those more vulnerable in our society. We hope as many local groups and community organisations get involved and look forward to hearing more about your good work.”


County Down Rural Development team joined the Community foundation and Fibrus for the launch. Nicholas McCrickard, County Down Rural Community Network, Manager commented:


“County Down Rural Community Network welcomes the launch of this fund. Access to the world of digital services is no longer a luxury. It is becoming a necessity and people in rural areas are particularly vulnerable. With the ongoing closure of banks and other rural services, people very often have no option but to use digital devices. We hope local groups in the Down area will make applications on behalf of older and younger people. We urge groups to think about how they can help rural residents and CDRCN is available to help with applications if required.”


This fund will first open for applications in Geographical area 1 at the end of the month. More details to follow.


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