Most remote community in the UK 'taught how to use Facebook'

Members of detached community keen to get up to speed on items of technology that the rest of the UK takes for granted

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The Independent Online

Inverie, in north-west Scotland, has a population of just 110, is not connected to the National Grid and has no mobile phone signal. It is is accessible only by ferry or by two-day hike from the nearest mainland road, and everything from the post to toilet rolls comes in by boat – making it one of the hardest places to reach in the UK.

But now the community widely believed to be the 'most remote in the UK' has decided that it wants to be better connected - and has taken matters into its own hands to make sure its residents know exactly how to use Twitter and Facebook.

To that end, members of the tiny settlement arranged for a computer skills company to make the arduous journey by land and sea to teach them how to stay in touch via the internet.

The event in the village hall, on a peninsular surrounded by mountains on one side and a vast expanse of water on the other, is believed to be the most remote digital skills lesson ever given in Britain, and Hilary Cameron - a tutor at digital skills provider Silver Training - travelled for five hours on a train from Helensburgh to Mallaig before boarding the 30-minute Knoydart ferry across Loch Nevis to get there.

“When I arrived the students were waiting for me with their iPads and laptops – it felt very incongruous to see such modern technology in such a timeless place, but the internet is a vital link to the mainland,” said the 52-year-old, from Helensburgh.

During the tutorial Miss Cameron said that she was questioned on privacy settings on social media and downloading applications, to saving email contacts into an address book and even how to use a scanner.

The event, which coincides with British 'Get Online Week' - which runs from October 13 to 19 - follows a report in February by the Tinder Foundation and Go On UK, which highlighted that 11 million people in the UK still lack basic online skills.

Morag Anderson, who runs a bed and breakfast in Inverie, said that she had realised the importance of digital technology at work.

“The internet was the only way we could run the business, by taking bookings and dealing with queries,” she said.

“Interestingly I found that potential customers asked fewer silly questions when booking online or by email bookings instead of on the phone!”

Miss Cameron also said that she had found that members of the detached community were very keen to get up to speed on items of technology that the rest of the UK might take for granted.

“The Kindle is a lifesaver for avid readers because, as a few villagers pointed out, where else would they get the books?" she added.

“I imagine that the same holds true for music and film downloads.

“Twitter and Facebook are popular too, as they provide instant links to the rest of the country as well as to children who choose to stay over in Mallaig while at secondary school rather than commute daily.”