People across Sunderland are being encouraged to part with their old laptops and desktops in a bid to help charities and those they support, to get online.
Sunderland City Council has partnered with Protech City to launch the GO! Get Online Scheme to offer low-cost computer equipment to registered charities which are members of the VCS Area Networks.
The three-month pilot scheme will see the City Council working with private and public sector organisations across Sunderland to encourage them to donate devices they no longer need to the GO! Get Online Tech Appeal. The council will also be donating redundant IT equipment of its own to the scheme.
Residents can also donate unwanted devices to the appeal at secure donation points across the city. Donated equipment will be collected, wiped clean and restored to its factory settings by Protech before being upgraded with Microsoft Office and sent on to its new home.
Councillor Linda Williams, Cabinet Member for Vibrant City, said: “The pandemic has brought the digital divide into sharp focus putting those without access to IT at a clear disadvantage when it comes to everything from keeping in touch with family and friends and home learning to home working, shopping and accessing online services.
“So this is all about helping people without any access to IT, to get online by providing access to equipment and support to access the internet, whether that’s to learn from home, apply for jobs online or access online services like banking, shopping and medical appointments.”
It’s a picture Pat Johnston from Back on the Map in Hendon is all too familiar with after seeing some of those the charity works with really struggling during the pandemic because they weren’t online.
Pat said: “At Back on the Map we have supported local people throughout the pandemic to enable access to ICT equipment and the internet. We have seen firsthand the disadvantage and stress that has been caused to families and individuals without equipment who have been able to get online for essential needs such as Universal Credit commitments, homeschooling, online shopping and medical support.
“The GO! Get Online Scheme, alongside the face to face support available within our community centre, will go some way to levelling up communities and will enable digital to become a tool, not a barrier, in the future.”
Back on the Map is one of five locations where people can drop off IT equipment that is no longer needed.
The full list is:
- Back on the Map, 67 Toward Road Hendon, Sunderland SR2 8JG Tel: 0191 514 7844
- Blue Watch Youth Centre, Burdon Lane, Ryhope, Sunderland SR2 0HR Tel: 0191 521 4060 https://www.facebook.com/Bluewatch-173060182871690/
- St Marks Community Association (Behind the Church off Hylton Road, St Mark’s Terrace, Sunderland SR4 7BN
Phone: 0191 514 4126 http://www.stmarksca.co.uk/
- Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre, 30 Tatham St, Hendon, Sunderland SR1 2QD. Tel: 0191 564 0888, Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre | Facebook
- The Box Youth and Community Project, Hall Farm Rd, Doxford Sunderland SR3 2UY Tel: 0191 522 5031
Cllr Williams added: “We want the whole city to support the GO! Get Online Tech Appeal. You just need to book a slot at one of the donation points, pop along with the kit, and Protech will do the rest – collect it, securely wipe it clean, install Microsoft Office and Windows, re-licence it and then send it on to its new home.”
Once the donated equipment has been cleaned and upgraded, registered charities and VCS organisations will be able to buy laptops and desktop computer equipment with Windows 10 for £120 (inc VAT) each to distribute and share with digitally excluded people/households at the same time as providing support to residents to improve their digital skills.
Ian Murphy from Protech, said: “This project has the potential to improve the lives of many people in Sunderland. Sunderland Council is a valued partner of ours, and we appreciate their efforts in getting this idea off the ground. Residents, corporations, and organisations have a real opportunity to make a difference.”
The initial pilot scheme will run for three months. Over the coming weeks, the City Council is also planning to launch a Let’s Talk Digital consult with residents across the city to help get a better understanding of what support residents need to improve their digital skills and connectivity. This will help inform future projects and investments.