Combatting digital divide in Wirral with laptop donation scheme

Businesses and individuals in Wirral looking to dispose of their old laptops can help reduce digital poverty with Career Connect and Tameside Community Computers CIC.

Charity Career Connect, which has a Wirral base on Argyle Street in Birkenhead, is the local link for anyone who wishes to donate old laptops to Tameside Community Computers CIC – where they will be refurbished and redistributed to people in Wirral and the Northwest who are facing digital poverty.

Tameside Community Computers CIC helped Career Connect to continue delivering support to young people during the pandemic – when the issue of digital poverty came to prominence – by supplying laptops to those participants disadvantaged by the digital divide.

The laptops helped young people to stay in touch with their Career Advisers, allowing them to continue to build their employability skills, research vacancies and apply for jobs or college places. It also contributed to young people’s wellbeing and helped reduce isolation. 

Impressed by the positive impact, Career Connect Careers Adviser Andy Cannell started to collect old unwanted laptops from across the Northwest and became a Volunteer Fundraising Director for Tameside Community Computers CIC.

The collaboration has grown over time, and to date, Career Connect itself has donated more than 70 old staff laptops for refurbishment.

Andy Cannell is now a contact point for any individuals or businesses in Wirral and the wider Liverpool City Region looking to donate their old laptops.

Laptops not suitable for full refurbishment are used for parts, and any materials left over are sent for recycling, reducing e-waste in landfills.

Career Connect recently took delivery of its latest batch of refurbished laptops from Tameside Community Computers, all of which have been distributed to young people on Career Connect programmes in Wirral and across Merseyside facing digital poverty.

Andy Cannell and Dan Birtles, Director of IT at Career Connect, were there to welcome the delivery from Tameside Community Computers CIC CEO Mike Brooks, Chief Experience Officer Cerid Grimshaw and IT Technician Matthew Hopkinson.  

Dan Birtles, Director of IT at Career Connect, said, “Working with Tameside Community Computers is a great fit for our charity, in line with the work we do to help people access a career or education path. Social value is a big part of our culture. Being able to donate laptops and then see the refurbished devices make a real difference to the lives of the people we work with is fantastic.

“There is also the massive benefit of reducing waste and landfill. As an organisation, we are committed to reaching Net Zero Carbon by 2035, and this programme is one of the ways that we can contribute to that.”

Andy Cannell said, “Digital access is vital in helping the young people we work with get on with their career or further education plans. Applying to jobs or courses, researching opportunities, paying bills, access to wellbeing support, or online courses – almost everything requires a laptop and internet connection these days.

“Digital poverty is a real issue, and the digital divide is getting bigger. With the cost-of-living crisis, we are seeing more situations where households are having to cancel their internet connection, and access to a laptop is out of the question.

“I have seen whole families’ lives change because their young person was given a refurbished laptop.

“It’s also about giving under-served young people the opportunity to follow a passion. One young person we worked with wanted to pursue a career in music, and thanks to one of the refurbished laptops, he was able to use music making software. This helped him develop his skills, but it also had a profound effect on his wellbeing and confidence.”

Cerid Grimshaw, Chief Experience Officer at Tameside Community Computers CIC said, “We aim to tackle two big problems – the digital divide and e-waste. There is still a big gap in access to opportunities for those who are and aren’t digitally connected. A huge amount of E-Waste also goes to landfill sites in the UK, and we want to reduce this.

“We work with local organisations across the Northwest to provide a regional response to both these issues. We have a great relationship with Career Connect, and it is brilliant to see how the computers we refurbish and supply are helping local young people to take positive steps in employment or education.

“The beauty of what we do is that individuals, businesses and organisations can donate their old laptops in the knowledge that it will have a positive, long-term impact within their local communities.”

If you are based in Merseyside and you or your business have devices to donate, please contact Andy Cannell to arrange: andy.cannell@careerconnect.org.uk  or phone 07708 286903

Please make contact with Andy ahead of any donation – please do not drop devices off at Career Connect directly. 

Image: (L-R) Andy Cannell (Career Connect), Matthew Hopkinson (Tameside Community Computers), and Dan Birtles (Career Connect)

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