A number of community groups in South Lakes have received funding to help them leverage the benefits of digital technology.

The grants are courtesy of Full Fibre broadband firm, Fibrus, which launched the Fibrus Community Fund Cumbria in April 2023, in partnership with Cumbria Community Foundation.

The company's philanthropic initiative over the past year has handed out a total of £60,000.

The fund was established with a focus on alleviating digital poverty, primarily targeting those under 18 or over 60.

Among the recipients is Sight Advice South Lakes, a charity devoted to helping people with sight loss.

The organisation plans to employ its funding to set up a digital home demonstration suite at its Kendal office.

This suite will provide those living with sight loss an opportunity to trial smart home devices, including Amazon's Alexa and voice activated smart locks for lights, doors and window blinds.

Chief executive Claire Park said: "Voice devices have been a success story for many of our clients who already use them to listen to music, the radio or audio books, but the next step is to enable them to use them to safely do tasks in their homes.

“Because these devices can be costly, some of our clients have said they’d like to ‘try before they buy’ so having the Smart Suite in our South Lakes office means they’ll be able to experience the benefits in a home-style environment.”

Age UK South Lakeland is another benefactor, receiving a grant which will be used to offer free digital workshops and events to the elderly in the area.

These efforts will enhance their confidence in using online services for shopping, banking and attending digital social gatherings and fitness classes.

Deputy chief executive officer Hannah Kitching said: "Despite the perception, many older people are keen to embrace digital technology but can often be nervous about it.

"This grant will enable us to offer the proper support and guidance they need to become more confident using digital technology and get all the benefits that come with it."

Fibrus is making strides in transforming digital infrastructure by investing in excess of £700m to bring Full Fibre broadband to towns and villages across Northern England and Northern Ireland.

The firm recently launched two new connectable locations locally, Ambleside and Workington, adding to the homes in Aspatria and Staveley that were connected under the Government's Project Gigabit contract last year.

Linda McMillan, chief people officer at Fibrus, said: "We know how beneficial fibrefast broadband can be to communities, but we’re acutely aware that digital poverty is a big issue, so this fund is all about enabling everyone to make the most of being connected.

“That’s why we’re thrilled to be able to support so many fantastic initiatives across the county.”

Jenny Benson, director of programmes and partnerships at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “The grants provided by the Fibrus Community Fund can be life changing.

“They can pay for devices that help young people with schoolwork or to apply for their first job, for example, and enable older people to access online services and stay connected with family and friends through Skype or Zoom.”

Fibrus commence the current round of grant applications on April 22, with the deadline being set for May 17.

Details pertaining to the application process can be found on the Cumbria Community Foundation website.