£Multi-Million Funding Underpins Digital and Health Inclusion


6th July 2023

Topic Health & Social Care
Sector Health & Social Care

A recent funding announcement confirmed nine projects in Sunderland will receive more than £3.3m in funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) programme to underpin Sunderland’s City Plan for a more dynamic, healthy and vibrant smart city.

The first nine projects receiving grants from the UKSPF two-year allocation of £14m, include investment in community digital health hubs to help residents to overcome barriers to digital inclusion, so that they can access relevant information and tools to improve their health and wellbeing.

The Community Digital Health Hub Project will receive £1,150,979 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to deliver a two-phase approach to improve digital inclusion and tackle health inequalities. Partners from the public, private and voluntary and community sectors are all instrumental to the programme, and recognise the need that we need to work together to fix the digital divide and tackle health inequalities.

Phase one involves enhancing the digital connectivity, renewing digital devices, developing a digitally ready workforce and introducing a new concept around community e-sports. Phase two will open up access to a new funding stream, allowing community groups from across the city to apply and deliver social prescribing activities, as part of the Sunderland Links for Life programme. This aims to improve health and wellbeing services from community spaces across the city, and to ensure no one and nowhere is left behind.

Liz St Louis, director of smart cities and enabling services at Sunderland City Council, said: “The cost-of-living crisis, coupled with health inequalities, has led to huge variations in access to health and community services.

“We are tackling the digital divide head on by improving access to digital devices, growing digital skills and bolstering connectivity to boost confidence and provide motivation to get online. At the same time, we are narrowing health inequalities by investing in next generation digital health infrastructure to increase access, efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery.

“The injection of £1.1m to grow the Community Digital Health Hub Project will complement the ongoing regeneration of our smart city, and provide much needed investment at a community level, to have a measurable and positive impact on our residents.”

Sunderland City Council will collaborate with a number of partners – including the University of Sunderland, Integrated Care Board, Boldyn Networks, Sunderland GP Alliance, British Esports Federation, All Together Better, Together for Children and the Sunderland voluntary and community sector from across the city – to deliver high quality and proactive services across the city via Community Digital Health Hubs and wider community spaces.

Liz added: “The evolution of the digital landscape across the city, enabled by our leading smart city infrastructure, is transforming how we consume healthcare information and access health services.

“We are creating a people-centred digital ecosystem, designed to meet the future needs of our residents and our city.”

Sharing and creating prosperity in Sunderland, this round of funding allocations will also boost activities to improve access to and participation in creative and cultural opportunities; strengthen voluntary and community sector facilities and services; and invest in new creative business spaces.

For more information about the first nine projects across Sunderland to receive UKSPF grants, read the full funding announcement article here and find out about future call for projects via UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) in Sunderland – Sunderland City Council.