As part of its commitment to reducing loneliness and isolation in the borough, Wokingham Borough Council has joined forces with local charities, as part of the Wokingham Borough Community response, to provide donated IT equipment to vulnerable residents who don’t have the knowledge or tools they need to go online.
The ‘Digital Donations’ initiative will improve their ability to access the internet, ultimately helping to reduce the impact and risk of loneliness and isolation in the borough. This includes households whose income falls below the poverty line.
One Front Door
The Council has been working with Citizen’s Advice and other key partners across the voluntary sector as part of its One Front Door scheme, to offer support to residents who are classed as critically extremely vulnerable (CEV) during the second national lockdown.
As part of this work, it has identified key individuals and families within the community who are most at risk from digital exclusion and who would benefit from access to donated IT equipment.
As a result, the Council is encouraging businesses, charities and members of the public to donate good quality IT equipment that is no more than five years old; including computers and laptops (minimum Windows 7, or OS Version 10.13), tablets (minimum Android 7, or OS supported) and keyboards (USB or wireless, complete with all keys).
Once donated, the Council has enlisted the help of a local IT business to make the devices as safe and easy-to-use as possible. They will then be passed on to local charities, including the Link Visiting Scheme and First Days, to deliver to residents and provide guidance on how to use them.
Improving digital engagement
Cllr Charles Margetts, executive member for adult social care and public health, says: “In our Covid-19 Residents Impact Survey, we found that 7% of respondents admitted that they struggled with IT, internet, or use of digital technology during the first wave of the pandemic and this is something we want to change.
“Our Digital Donations project will be a springboard for creating medium to longer term solutions that will improve digital engagement across the borough, by providing vulnerable individuals and families with access to valuable IT equipment.”
For GDPR purposes, all devices must be restored to factory settings before being donated, and items should also be fully sanitised. These can be donated in a Covid-secure manner at several sites across the Borough from Monday 14 December, including:
- Wokingham Library – open 9.30am-1.30pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
- Woodley Library – open 9am-1pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
- Lower Earley Library – open 9.30am-1.30pm on Monday and Thursday
Ambitious digital strategy
Cllr Charles Margetts continues: “Having to self-isolate or stay at home during the national lockdowns has been particularly hard for some of our most vulnerable residents. At the same time, we understand that there are children within our communities who do not have access to the IT equipment they need to aid their personal development.
“That is why this is such an important step in our ambitious digital strategy, ultimately improving their ability to access the internet and reduce any feelings of isolation.”
If you, or you know someone who would benefit from this scheme, please contact the following organisations: