The Beacon Centre for the Blind has been supporting disabled people to boost their digital skills to help them cope with the Coronavirus pandemic.

Expert staff from the charity have been teaching people with sight loss and other long-term conditions the skills they need to access services such as online supermarket deliveries.

People have also got the chance to use loan devices to enable them to get online during lockdown.

The digital inclusion project has been funded through Wolverhampton and Dudley Councils.

The Beacon Centre’s Health and Wellbeing Director Jan Burns MBE said: “Many of those most vulnerable to Covid-19 have limited access to the internet and lack the skills needed to engage with the world digitally. It has left them excluded from society when they have never needed to be part of it more.

“Improving digital access will help reduce people’s loneliness and isolation and increase their independence. It will also allow people to engage with services locally without having to do so face-to-face, reducing the infection risk. We would like to thank Wolverhampton and Dudley Councils for their support in backing this project, we are extremely grateful.”

Among those who have benefited the scheme is Margaret who has sight loss and lives in Dudley. She has been trained to use an Amazon echo show.

She said: “It has opened a new world of information and provides endless pleasure, listening to books and music whilst stretching your mind with puzzles. It also helps with spelling and the camera scanning feature tells me what I am holding and understand what it is I need to do with it.

“I found the support I received really enjoyable. I liked someone coming in who knows what they are doing. It has been a lovely experience.”

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care at Dudley Council, said: “As a council we are more than happy to support this very worthy project by the Beacon Centre for the Blind.

“The most vulnerable in our borough can very easily become isolated and alone during these difficult and unprecedented times, which is why I wholeheartedly applaud anything like this.

“It will give people crucial life skills which will be of benefit both now and in the future, and I look forward to seeing the continuing success stories, like Margaret, that come from it.”

Councillor Linda Leach, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Services, added: “The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the move to digital, and we want to do all we can to ensure that local people are not left behind.

“We are pleased to support the Beacon Centre for the Blind in this important piece of work which is helping some of our most vulnerable citizens stay connected with friends, families and vital services at this time.”