LOCAL businesses and residents are being asked to donate their unwanted computer equipment and devices so that more households in Cambridge can get online.
Cambridge City Council recently provided a grant of £5,000 to the charity Cambridge Online so it could provide households lacking regular access to the internet, with the equipment they need to get online.
The charity is appealing for donations of old and new laptops, tablets and internet connectivity devices (such as dongles and sims). All new and refurbished devices will be distributed to households currently without internet access.
To donate a laptop, tablet or connectivity devices including dongles, sims or other equipment to Cambridge Online, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01223 300407.
Donated computer equipment can now also be dropped off by arrangement at The Guildhall in Market Square, from Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm. People wishing to do this should phone 01223 457381 in advance to arrange for a council member of staff to meet them there. It is hoped additional drop-off points will be arranged soon.
Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “With so many people learning and working from home, digital access is now an essential utility.”
“As schools have transitioned to remote learning in the face of Covid-19, families without a home computer have been put in an impossible position. Laptops and tablets simply aren’t affordable for many people. By supporting Cambridge Online’s work, we are reaching those most at risk of digital exclusion.’
“Many of the laptops and tablets being distributed by local charities have been generously donated. If you are a business owner or private individual with a laptop or tablet you no longer need, we would be delighted to put your equipment in the hands of someone who really needs it.”
With the help of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Cambridgeshire Youth Panel and Romsey Mill have additionally distributed 68 laptops to young people with funding from the Proceeds of Crime Act as well as support from Cambridgeshire Community Foundation and others.
The Foundation has also funded work by the Cambridge Housing Society to distribute laptops, tablets and data packages to vulnerable residents living in supported housing in Cambridge, as well as elsewhere in the county.
The grant to Cambridge Online and supporting expanding digital access is just one of the ways in which the council has been helping vulnerable people during the Coronavirus pandemic. It has been working with community groups, residents’ associations, faith groups and volunteers in each Cambridge ward to provide people with essential items like food and medicine.
It has also created and staffed a central hub to refer new requests for help to local groups, coordinating with county and national authorities to ensure that all city residents know where to turn for help and daily essentials whilst restrictions are in place.