Device and data case studiesRelating to loans of devices by the DigiKnow lending library and data from the national databank, as well as purchases of low-cost refurbished devices. We are grateful to everyone who has agreed to share their stories with us. If you would like to republish any case study, please get in touch with us, so we can check if further consent is needed.
Before I borrowed the tablet from the DigiKnow digital lending library, I had to use the computers at the library as I was applying for jobs and job hunting. I had to be on the computer a lot as most job applications are online now.
The problem was that the library computers have an hour limit on them, and then they kick you off. You get a timer that pops up that says “you have 5 mins left,” and that’s stressful. You are doing a job application, and you think, “did I do that right? Is it presentable? Has it sent ok?” and then the computer times out on you.
I also had to trek all the way to the library from where I live and bring all my documents with me that I needed. It was very difficult. I had to keep going back over what I did last time and re-cap because I had forgotten what I did last time or wanted to check it. The travel used up a lot of my time that I could have been using to do other applications or studying.
The tablet from the Digital lending library has been an absolute godsend. It really has. I am studying for my level 2 health and social care qualification which I wouldn’t have been able to do without it. I think they just expected everyone to have a device they could use. But the reality is that not everyone does have a device. I log in every day and do some work, I’m making good progress.
I’ve applied for jobs, and it’s saved me time travelling doing this from home and I can take my time and make sure I get it right. I can use my time to process thoughts better and to use my energy well. It all helps me to think more positively.
We are working family with both myself and my husband in jobs, but at the end of the month with two teenagers in the house we still struggle to make ends meet. Before being introduced to Community Computers, my thirteen-year old daughter was trying to do her school homework on her phone, but the money outlay needed to get her a suitable computer was just out of the question; my husband has a work laptop but we can’t use it to run the programmes that the school homework uses.
A good friend of ours who is involved in the Stockport Autisk group, told us about Community Computers and so we visited the Stockport shop on Shaw Heath. The member of staff was so helpful, understood our position and was able to show us a refurbished all-in-one PC at a price which we could afford (£59).
This has proved to be a life safer. My daughter is able to use her computer do all the task involved in her homework, access the internet to play games like Minecraft, and generally enjoy being a normal teenager who doesn’t feel left out or left behind. I know that she would be lost without it.
Alison learned to audio type in the 1980s but her confidence in using digital devices is low. She does not have a working device at home and has been trying to use her smartphone to apply for jobs.
This has been difficult, and she herself says “I’m not even very good on this thing (my phone). I’m applying for jobs, and all a long list on a website somewhere, and then all the businesses ask for your applications emailed over these days, Then I have to click buttons,
submit or whatever, I just get worried it’s not sent or I’ve mucked it up somehow.”
Alison agreed that digital skills sessions and a laptop loan would really help her. She felt more cheerful when we said we could get her a device with a keyboard, rather than a touch screen, due to her typing skills. She had assumed it would need to be a tablet.
She feels very motivated to practice at home, and we got her signed up to Learn my way. She said “It’s been great talking to you and James, I was feeling very down and like I wasn’t going to get anywhere, and now I’m going to go home with a laptop.”
“Without the laptop I borrowed, I would not be able to do the flexible study that suits me, working in nap times and when the baby is in bed.”
V has a young child and wanted to return to a course she was studying before she had her baby. She only had one part of the course to go before she qualified for a career she feels passionately about – being a carer. Once she starts work, she hopes to buy her own device from Community Computers.
In September 2022 I left my home in Ukraine with my 9 year old daughter and with very few belongings. We were hosted in Stockport as part of the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ initiative. My husband was not allowed to leave Ukraine and my parents felt that they were too old and too unwell to leave.
We had one mobile telephone between us. I wrote a letter to the council and someone called me to tell me about Community Computers. I called them and they invited me into their shop to have a look at the laptops. I am not very technical, but the person in the shop was very helpful. The laptop that I chose and purchased at a low price has proved to be just what my daughter and I need. It is very light, very quick and has all the software we need.
My daughter is now able to do homework lessons online, particularly English lessons. I have started a Make-up course with the college, and some of the theory lessons are online. My daughter and I watch videos to help us with learning our English. Most importantly, we are able to use Zoom to speak to my husband and my parents back in Ukraine. This is so important to us. We are so grateful for Community Computers. Having a really great laptop has made such a big difference to us.
I borrowed a device from Starting Point as I had a very limited amount of data on my phone. With the data and tablet lent to me from the lending library I am able to go online in order to use Learn My Way, access my benefits and universal credit and also apply for jobs freely.
Last Christmas, the screen to my laptop broke unexpectedly. I’m still on Jobseeker’s Allowance (which in my case means I get £135 a fortnight, after stoppages), so, in the best case, the idea of replacing my laptop with a new one was a non-starter.
To make matters worse, I was also under contract with a broadband provider, and it would have cost me more to break the contract than I could afford. So I was putting myself under financial pressure whilst not having a laptop to access the internet with, which is still the main reason for having the internet in the first place. I did still have a smartphone, but there’s a limited amount that you can do with that.
I heard about Community Computers via the course that I was placed on by the job centre, and it was the only way that I’d have been able to afford a computer that already had Word installed, a decent memory and protection included in the price.
In terms of the practical benefits of having a laptop again, I can do my mandatory job search, which wasn’t achievable when I was reduced to using my phone for job searching or form filling. The research time required to properly prepare a job application alone would often exceed the allotted free hour at the library. So you’re running the risk of being sanctioned simply because you don’t have the tech to job search effectively.
It also means that I can research ways back into paid employment, whether that be courses, voluntary work or whatever. On a more personal level, I also love writing but have osteoporosis, so writing by hand can quickly become physically painful and I greatly enjoy Prestige TV, so being online gives me the opportunity to keep up to date on the latest developments.
We have lent a tablet to a client through the ‘Comma’ project, which supports parents whose children are going into care. Their social worker felt that a tablet would help her attend online court hearings, rather than relying on her phone.
In this situation, to ensure she wouldn’t be able to sell the device for quick cash, the Comma project initially held the device for her. As she works through her staged plan, she will be able to borrow the device to take home and use on her own and eventually, the social worker hopes to hand the device over to her. She has been involved in the process and is happy to attend Starting Point sessions for digital support to use the device and take on more responsibility at a pace that’s right for her.