Liverpool City Region pioneers digital inclusion with National Device Bank

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram’s Combined Authority has given hundreds of retired desktop computers, laptops and monitors to a charity scheme for digitally excluded people.

It is the first authority outside London to sign up to the National Device Bank – a recycling network run by the Good Things Foundation which has already helped more than 126 people across the city region with free equipment.

More than 200 devices have been donated and will now be professionally refurbished before being distributed to those in need.

The partnership is the latest in a campaign to boost digital connectivity and support, following the launch last year of the Digital Inclusion Initiative which aims to provide 4,750 tablets as well as training and mobile internet to residents.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Digital and Innovation and Leader of Wirral Council Cllr Paul Stuart said, “Digital exclusion is a key barrier for many in the city region, with hundreds of thousands of individuals struggling to get online due to a lack of access to affordable devices, connectivity or digital skills.

“Schemes such as the National Devicebank are critical to ensuring our residents are able to gain access to devices to help them navigate the modern digital world – whether booking an NHS appointment, contacting their friends and family, or saving up to £900 a year through better deals. I encourage all businesses to examine what they can do with their old ICT kit, and consider donating to the Devicebank”

The Good Things Foundation operates the Device Bank as well as the National Databank – which is often described as a food bank but for mobile data.

More than 60 centres in the city region are registered Databanks, including the Combined Authority (CA).

The CA has already provided over 35,000 gigabytes of free data alongside retired phones to 300 participants through its Households into Work and Housing First programmes.

The charity also coordinates the National Digital Inclusion Network, including thousands of organisations providing free local support for people to use and access the internet with 140 active Digital Inclusion Hubs in the Liverpool City Region.

So far, five of these hubs have received 126 refurbished devices across the Liverpool City Region but demand for free IT equipment is five times higher than the current supply.

The foundation is encouraging more hubs to apply and hopes the city region example will help popularise the initiative and boost donations amongst businesses and enterprise.

Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive Officer, Good Things Foundation, said, “We’re thrilled that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has donated to the National Device Bank, becoming the first Local Authority outside of London to donate. The National Device Bank is our free alternative solution to IT asset disposal that tackles corporate e-waste and gets refurbished devices into the hands of people that can’t afford their own.

“With 1 in 14 UK households with no access to the internet at home, we need to act now to ensure people aren’t locked out of the online world. This donation not only prevents valuable tech from ending up in landfill but also places it directly into the hands of those who need it most. I urge other organisations to follow Liverpool City Region’s lead and donate to the National Device Bank, helping people and the planet.”

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