Local government and businesses across Greater Manchester have stepped up to support digitally excluded residents across the city-region.
In response to the closure of schools and colleges, GMCA has launched phase two of its Greater Manchester Technology Fund as an emergency response. Its analysis has found that 15-20,00- young people may fall outside of national programmes to aid remote learning and be without access to a digital device and data in the city-region, including 6,000 16-18 year old college students.
GM Mayor, Andy Burnham, has called on the business community to support the initiative, through donations of unused digital devices, such as laptops, iPads, SIM cards and portable hotspots and other connectivity devices, or to make a £300 donation that will enable the purchase of a digital kit bundle to ensure a disadvantaged young person can continue their education. Andy Burnham said:
With this new national lockdown we risk turning the problem of digital exclusion into lost education and opportunity for our poorest and most vulnerable young people. Although efforts have been made nationally to tackle the problem of digital exclusion for young people, there is still a lot more to do to bridge the gaps in support Greater Manchester’s young people. That’s why I am calling on our business community to support the Greater Manchester Technology Fund, through financial donations and the donation data packages and tech, to help our most digitally-excluded young people stay connected and ensure all our young people have fair and equal access to learning and opportunity.”
In Stockport, Stockport Council has teamed up with Hubbub’s Community Calling scheme and Starting Point, part of the DigiKnow alliance tackling digital exclusion in Stockport, to distribute recycled smartphones to vulnerable households who don’t have access to the internet.
By rehoming unwanted smartphones, the devices will help one of the 1.9 million UK households without internet access to get online, with many being older people who risk social isolation during lockdown. Furthermore, a donation will help to minimise e-waste, as only 20% of electrical products get recycled, making it the world’s fastest growing waste stream.
Cllr Kate Butler, Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus and Engagement at Stockport Council said:
Covid-19 has forced us to move more of our lives online. But for people without internet access, lockdown and social isolation is so much harder, as they struggle to get current information, buy groceries or find someone to talk to. With this new Community Calling scheme, your old smartphone could be recycled and gifted to someone in need who doesn’t have access to the internet. If you can spare a smartphone that you no longer use, you’ll be helping the digitally excluded in Stockport, while also helping to reduce e-waste. Why not help the community at the start of 2021 and support this fantastic scheme?”
For a freepost envelope or any further information on the scheme, please visit the Hubbub Community Calling website.