Hundreds of laptops and other digital devices are being donated to communities by Birmingham City Council.
Already around 1,000 have been made available to young vulnerable school children by working jointly with the Digital Education Partnership, with devices and funding being provided by the city council and other organisations. A further 2,200 council devices have been identified and are expected to be freed up within the next few months, as the city council refreshes its own digital kit, which we will make available to citizens and communities working through our charities and voluntary sector groups.
Councillor Jane Francis, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, said: “While the pandemic has shown the best of how we work together as a city, it has also highlighted and exacerbated existing inequalities.
“The lived experience of our vulnerable communities over this period has shown that digital poverty is persistent across all ages leaving many excluded and increasing the level of inequality and vulnerability across the city. This has been a particular issue for remote learning for school children, not only when schools were closed for most pupils during lockdown but for doing homework and general learning.
“We are establishing further links to local groups to ensure recycled equipment remains within our communities to address areas of need and we believe that up to 2,200 more devices will be freed up in the next few months. We will work with local groups to ensure that these are made available to vulnerable families and communities through our local partnerships.
“We are also exploring options to make better use of old council desktop computers so that they are available to voluntary and community groups for supporting teaching and learning in the communities which was severely disrupted during the pandemic. We also plan to include specific social value requirements to encourage our suppliers to work with us on making their unused kit available to us for distribution into the community.
“It is vital that as a city and a council we address these issues, working with our partners, so this is great news for everyone in our community who has been struggling.”
The city council is also exploring how we can work with mobile operators to recycle unused data into the community. If workable this would provide further connectivity for those who cannot afford it.