In this blog DigiKnow partner Community Computers share some recent good news stories to spur us into 2024 and inspire our work to tackle the digital divide. Adrian Nottingham is Business Development Manager at Renewal North West.
Community Computers is a not-for-profit IT refurbisher delivered by Stockport charity Renewal North West. We work in partnership with Stockport Council, Manchester City Council and Trafford Council to tackle digital exclusion, unemployment and e-waste through repairing and refurbishing donated tech.
We’ve been partners in the DigiKnow alliance since 2021 when we first set up our scheme to collect donated devices through Stockport libraries. We refurbish these devices to sell at low cost to people who couldn’t otherwise afford a device. We also donate a number of devices each month via an awarding group formed from core DigiKnow partners. And we assist with maintaining the DigiKnow device lending library.
It is great to be able to give people and community groups the tools that will support them to ensure they are not being left behind. We like nothing better than seeing the donated devices that we have refurbished find a new home where the impact is so easy to see and where the digital divide is being so clearly overcome.
Increasing quality of life for isolated men
After the COVID pandemic and associated lockdowns, one of the key issues that surfaced was the horrible effects that isolation has on our mental health and well-being. This, we learnt, is particularly keenly felt by many of the men in our communities.
In March 2022, Steve Hall set up ‘Banter and Brews’, a male support group offering members a safe and relaxing space to sit, chat and enjoy activities while having a brew and a biscuit. Steve describes his offer: “If you are bored, lonely or anxious, come along. There will be a warm welcome.”
Originally meeting in Reddish, the group proved so popular that it quickly mushroomed into 4 groups, with groups also meeting in Heaton Norris and Brinnington. A fifth group is planned to meet in either Marple or the Woodley area. The groups consist of men of all ages and backgrounds.
Last June, Community Computers was able to donate a laptop to Banter and Brews to support the admin and comms functioning of the group, and in November, on Steve’s request, a second laptop was donated. This device was for use by key volunteers who visit group members in their homes or in a community setting. This enabled them to provide support with different functions, such as arranging medical appointments, accessing benefits, and getting all kinds of advice and information. These key tasks all require digital connectivity, with several group members previously excluded from doing them.
This will really help our members to access the connections that will make a big difference to their quality of life.
Boosting a young person’s sense of purpose and hope for the future
Jess* is a bright, academic young person who, due to the onset of a potentially long-term health condition around her 14th birthday, cannot attend school. As a result of her poor physical health, she had not been in school for well over a year, and understandably, this had had a detrimental effect on her mental health.
A home tutor was organised for Jess. Her situation was complex and her family were not able to obtain the IT equipment she needed to support her at a critical time in her education and development. When Tracey* first visited Jess at home to begin tutoring, Jess just had her mobile phone to access online resources. Tracey contacted us at Community Computers and following a quick consultation with DigiKnow core partners, a suitable device was identified. Within days Community Computers was able to give Jess a laptop, which Tracey delivered to her.
On receiving the laptop from Community Computers, Tracey reported:
Jess was ‘made up’. The impact was positive and huge. Jess felt good that she had a purpose and hope for her future. Getting online and having the laptop enabled Jess to feel ‘okay’ about things. She could access the maths app and register to use it just like a student attending school.
The biggest impact on Jess was on her self-esteem. Receiving the laptop felt like an act of affirmation, and far from feeling like a charity handout, Jess felt like someone believed her and believed in her.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
If you can spare any technology you no longer use, please drop off donations at any Stockport library or at Renewal North West’s shop in Shaw Heath, or arrange bigger collections for free by calling 0161 476 2777. All devices are securely wiped clean of your data.
To find out more about the scheme or if you know someone who would benefit from purchasing a low-cost device, visit the Community Computers website.
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