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DMU appeals for unused tech to help bridge the 'digital divide'


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De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is calling on local businesses and organisations to donate unused computers, laptops and other digital items to help tackle the digital divide exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The university is partnering with two social enterprises, SocialBox.Biz and Reaching People, to lead a project to help families on low incomes, socially isolated and elderly can stay connected online.

Laptop(Photo by Nordwood Themes on Unsplash)

The digital divide, the gap between people in society who have full access to digital technologies (such as the internet and computers) and those who do not, is a key concern as Leicester begins to recover from the pandemic.

 

 Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, studies showed 22% of the UK’s population lacked basic digital skills and access to equipment – an issue that disproportionately affects those with low incomes and since the start of the pandemic, the problems have worsened due to lack of access in public spaces.

 

DMU is asking for the donations of old IT equipment no longer required by companies and individuals which will then be securely wiped of all data and refurbished before being delivered to those in need. Other items can also be donated, including:

  • Computers and laptops
  • Telephones and telecoms equipment
  • Conference room AV equipment
  • Desktops, tablets
  • IPads, iMacs and other Apple products
  • Screens, keyboards and cables
  • Coffee machines
  • Servers, switches and routers

 To make donations or get involved, contact local@dmu.ac.uk

SocialBox.Biz is a social enterprise running a campaign to support vulnerable people through self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic with one of their key missions to eradicate digital poverty in the UK by the year 2030.

SocialBox.Biz founder, Peter Padhu, stated: "For too long we’ve ignored the damaging impact of digital exclusion on the vulnerable in society. Sadly, it has taken a global pandemic to show what can happen when we don’t address the digital gap.”

The other group working with DMU is Reaching People, which leads the Moneywise Plus (MW+) project supporting unwaged and unemployed people in Leicester and Leicestershire with digital and financial skills leading to employment and training.

Though MW+ the group will provide an adviser to help individuals on a one-to-one basis with IT support and training so they are able to use donated devices to move on in their lives.

Jenny Hands, Reaching People CEO, said she believed the project can have a huge impact on the community.

She said: “The support from DMU to encourage donations of old equipment is absolutely vital to kick this specific project off.  It will make so much difference to people in most need to have access to IT equipment at times when they just do not have income to afford to buy new laptops.”

Since March 2020, DMU has been working with local organisations, including Leicester City Council, to identify ways that Leicester can Build Back Better after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mark Charlton, Associate Director of Public Engagement in the directorate of Social Impact and Engagement at DMU, said the project could have a tangible effect on the local area.

He said: “Finding ways to tackle the digital divide has been one of our key aims since starting the DMU Community Solutions Programme (Covid-19) during the first lockdown.

“We believe, by working with our partners, we have found a practical way to start the long process of tackling the digital divide in our local communities.”

Posted on Monday 1st March 2021

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