Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude has launched a new scheme within government that aims to encourage civil servants to teach digital skills to friends and family who are offline.
The Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service (GDS) believe that this this move will increase awareness and really reach out to the estimated 21% of the UK population which lacks the skills to get the most out of the Internet.
The government claims that helping more people to get online will address wider social issues and support economic growth.
The Digital Friends scheme advises civil servants to find friends, family and people they know who are not yet confident using the Internet and help to teach them basic skills and advice they require to change this.
Basic digital skills including browsing the web, email and online services and those taking part in the campaign are encouraged to use the #DigitalFriends hashtag.
“As part of the government’s long term economic plan, we want to reduce the UK’s offline population by 25% every two years so that by 2020, everyone who can be online, will be,” claimed Maude.
“We are working in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors to help people use and benefit from the Internet.
“I’m calling on civil servants, and the public at large, to do something great in your community by becoming a Digital Friend,” the Minister added.
A number of partner organisations will also be encouraging their employees to be ‘Digital Friends’, such as BBC, Three, Barclays, BT and the Society of Chief Librarians.
The initiative will also become part of existing work by partner organisations such as Go ON UK, Digital Unite, Age UK, EE, Lloyds and the Tinder Foundation.