CAMBRIDGE City Council has released additional funding to local community groups to provide data and devices to residents and families so they can get online during lockdown.
The council has allocated £30,000 from its Anti-Poverty Strategy Responsive Budget and Community Grants fund to Cambridge Online, a member of Cambridgeshire Digital Partnership.
This latest funding was agreed following the current national lockdown and the closure of schools. Building on earlier allocations over the last twelve months totalling £45,000, this additional funding reflects continuing need in the city and will be delivered by a new partnership of community groups who have come together with the council’s support to tackle digital exclusion in the area.
Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “The need for people to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic has been a real challenge for many Cambridge residents.
“Everyone who can is being required to work from home, and schools are closed for the majority of young people. More and more people are not only working from home, but needing to study and access services from home too. We must do all we can to make sure that no-one is left excluded from education or support because they can’t afford to get online.
“The council’s vision is ‘One Cambridge, Fair for All’, and we want to do everything we can to make sure no-one is excluded. This includes children and young people who can’t access their remote classes, and also the isolated or vulnerable who risk being cut off and unable to access services that have had to move online.
“This funding will help our partners in Cambridge Online and the other members of the Digital Partnership to deliver more data and devices to those who need them so badly.”
Andrew Entecott, Chief Executive of Cambridge Online, explained: “In the first part of the year we continued providing training and support to people who needed help to get online. Now that lockdown prevents us from providing that kind of face-to-face training and learning, we are focused on working with our partners in the Cambridgeshire Digital Partnership to get data and devices to those who need them most, whilst still supporting people remotely.
“The data bundles are an essential part of this – many families struggle to afford broadband contracts, and a device would be of limited use without a data package. Through buying in quantity we are able to secure good value data and devices, so that families can access the vital services they need.”
Many residents and businesses in the city have also donated spare devices or money to help their fellow residents get online. If you have laptops, tablets or other devices you no longer need, you can donate them to Cambridge Online – call 01223 300407 or see their website http://cambridgeonline.org.uk/