Before the UK lockdowns, many people and families were left behind without access to current technology – creating a digital divide. After the UK lockdowns, it exemplified that technology is no longer a luxury, but a necessity of modern society. The digital divide is a metaphorical gap between those who have access to technologies and those who do not. Those who have not got access to modern amenities are being left behind in modern social norms. For example, a person or family that are unable to access adequate Wi-Fi speeds, cannot afford the technology, or even that they don’t understand how to use it; the digital divide is disconnecting these individuals from being a functioning member of 21-century society.

More and more traditional in-person activities are now accessed through online spaces, from community/religious events, jobs, schooling, entertainment, online shopping, the need to access your bank or utility provider online, the list is endless. In addition to this, many daily activities now require access to some form of technology which many of us take for granted. 6% of UK homes still do not have access to the internet (according to Ofcom 2021). Even if they could get internet access from a friend/local organisation many would still not be able to get online, as 9% of UK families do not have access to technological devices. While many still do not have access to technology, Aviva’s 2020 study found that the average UK home has 10.3 internet-enabled devices. Pairing this with on average most tech users upgrade their technology every 30 months, means there is a lot of e-waste being produced. If businesses and local members of the community donate their older devices, it can help narrow the gap in this digital divide.

The Digital Inclusion Project, run by Newydd Housing Association is a programme that aims to help reduce the digital divide in the community, providing knowledge and devices for the digital era. The project calls for those in the community, Newydd Tenants, and Newydd staff and financial inclusion officers to identify and refer tenants and others in need who have been digitally excluded. With both organisations having a previous history of tackling the digital divide ComputerWorld worked with Newydd housing association in South Wales to help more people in need by providing technologies to Newydd to help improve the wellbeing of their tenants.

After refurbishing their IT suite, ComputerWorld had a good amount of technology that could be donated to those that needed it. ComputerWorld had a total of 16 pcs, monitors, mice, and keyboards (with all the relevant cables) to donate towards the digital inclusion project. After wiping all the data from these devices to ensure compliance with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) to ensure the security of any data on these devices, they were carefully transported from ComputerWorld Bristol to the Hapi Hub based in Rhydfelin. Newydd then reinstalled Windows to these devices and relevant app shortcuts to each device e.g., Gmail, Google Classroom, Newydd’s Self Service Portal ‘MyNewydd’, NHS Covid Guidance, making it easier and more accessible for the new users. From this referral scheme, Newydd’s team carefully picked those most in need of the devices and set it up for them.

“You have no idea how much this will help” and “this is going to change my life” have been quoted by the recipients of these devices.

“Accessing a PC or device to get online is a real need for many of our tenants. It has been a pleasure working with Computer World to help ensure those tenants that need technology are able to receive technology, making a huge difference to their day to day lives.”

Scott Tandy, Community Regeneration Officer at Newydd

Across October 2021 -December 2021 – people’s lives were positively changed as a result of ComputerWorld’s Donation. Including:

  • A Year 7 student who couldn’t access their schoolwork from not having the proper technology.
  • A young man with agoraphobia needs a way to connect to the outside world and interact with others socially.
  • A wheelchair user who wanted access to online mental health services and video conferencing software.
  • A refugee family who needed technology to connect to family, educational platforms, local/government guidance.

Without the collaborative work of ComputerWorld and Newydd, these vulnerable individuals and families may not have accessed suitable resources to help them. Not having the right technologies affected their right to education and healthcare – which ultimately could affect their wellbeing and future prospects.

Projects like this one with Newydd are extremely important as we all are dependent on technology in day-to-day life. ComputerWorld is proud to support projects like this as we know it can lead to a positive change for the lives of many people and will continue to do so in the future.

Jonathon Pine, Director at ComputerWorld

With new technology made at a rapid rate, most businesses jump to the next/newest mode, then discarding their old device without a second thought, usually resulting in it being taken to the landfill. However, taking the extra steps to partner up and donate your older technology will not just help the planet but can make a real difference to another person’s life. We at ComputerWorld are proud to be supporting the action to narrow the digital divide and encourage others to help too.