The ongoing Digital Divide
England reopens today after the latest lockdown and it will be a welcome return to face to face activities for many. You might be forgiven for thinking that the issues surrounding digital inequality will become less important. However, it is pretty clear that the pandemic has catapulted us all forward in terms of adopting digital ways of doing pretty much everything. If you were digitally excluded before the pandemic, you are more so now.
ELBA has been working with our business partners and community network to tackle three strands of exclusion – access to devices, access to connections and developing digital skills.
Business supporters have been brilliant in overcoming issues around data security to make sure donated devices are secure and ready to be reused in the community. We have had laptops and I-Pads going out to schools and to groups working with elders. We have had advice and ideas to develop new models of donation involving the re-sale market, which has led to us being able to donate brand new devices to the community; and Raspberry Pi have donated 150 compact PCs for schools and community groups.
Business volunteers have been coming forward to be Digital Buddies for people who don’t have the skills to get on-line and navigate their way, and we are starting work on a model for community hubs which might combine learning, personal support and access to good broadband connections.
Finally, we continue to work with schools on digital inequality. While students are back in school, we need to keep in mind that there are students who will not be able to access catch-up resources, or even to easily do daily school work and submit it on-line due to digital poverty. We will continue to support donations and connections for these families.
If you would like to help, we have practical opportunities for you to get involved in. Please do contact us – from device donations and volunteering to help with skills training or even straightforward team fundraising.
Our funding donations page is at justgiving.com/campaign/ELBADigitalDivide
Together we can narrow the gap.