New laptop-donation scheme launched to help end digital poverty in Croydon
(Photo: Andrew Cleminson)
Gabriela Jimenez speaks to participants in a new laptop-donation scheme helping to combat digital poverty in Croydon.
Written by Gabriela Jimenez
It is easy to assume that everyone uses the internet through their phones and computers. In fact, that’s not the case. The Evening Standard recently reported that two million households don’t have access to the internet, which means that many in the community are being left behind, even in a city like London.
The Positive Transformation Group (PTG), led by founder Dan Brown, recently introduced a programme called Ending Digital Poverty (EDP) to roll-out devices and network access to those who need it most.
EDP focuses on helping people of all ages to gain access to education, training, support services and jobs by providing them with refurbished laptops donated by companies that no longer need them.
International law firm Milbank is one of the companies that supports EDP to ensure that no one is isolated through a lack of access to the services that many take for granted.
Milbank’s IT manager Annette Brown and premises manager Lynda Waterman have been working together in overseeing the programme to refresh their company’s laptops and have made 200 devices available for redeployment to those who need them most.
Annette said: “One of the tasks that I was given was to help end digital poverty.
“Harry Messenger from Unilever was working on finding the areas of deprivation, finding who needed the devices and I was working alongside Harry to try and source devices.”
Andrew Cleminson, impact director at the Positive Transformation Group, also forms part of the EDP initiative.
He said: “We concentrate our efforts where the need is highest and get devices into the hands of young people and families. Our aim is to make a real difference.”
Christine Double, head of operations at Croydon Voluntary Action, is running a programme known as We Stand Together, which uses sport to engage people, including those from refugee and asylum communities, helping better integration across society.
She believes these communities have struggled to access online support services throughout the pandemic.
Christine said: “During the lockdown period we found that people getting out and about is more important than ever, but one of the things that was missing was their ability to access support services.
“Whereas previously they would use libraries, or cafes, or the communal areas of their accommodation for Wi-Fi etc., they haven’t been able to do that because of Covid-19 and had to stay in their initial accommodation for much longer than before.”
Watch a video by Gabriela Jimenez on YouTube about the Ending Digital Poverty scheme
A UK Parliament report about Covid-19 and the digital divide found people may be digitally excluded for many reasons, which include not having access to the required infrastructure and/or devices.
School closures and absenteeism during Covid-19 have also required home-schooling and online distance learning. Yet not all children have access to devices needed to take advantage of the digital world. Ofcom research found at the start of the pandemic (January-March 2020) that 9 per cent of households with children did not have access to a digital device such as a laptop, desktop, PC or tablet.
Initiatives such as the EDP programme have helped some individuals in securing access to the digital world and allowed them to complete their studies, learn new skills and set up and run their own businesses.
Frank is one of those people who has benefited from the programme. Coming from Uganda to develop his career, he is due to start a university degree in biomedical sciences which would be a real challenge without a digital device, especially where most classes have moved online.
Frank, who has recently finished at college, said: “I’ve been using a laptop that was borrowed to me by Hope for the Young, so I have to return it back.
“The laptop that will be given to me from the EDP programme will be helpful for my studies when I’m at university, since it will help me be able to complete my assignments.”
More information about the Positive Transformation Group and the EDP programme is available online.
The Croydon Advertiser covers areas including but not limited to Coulsdon, Purley, Selsdon, Shirley, Thornton Heath and Croydon in the London Borough of Croydon.
See the latest news, information, conversations and much more, all tailored to your neighbourhood, in your InYourArea live feed here.