Data from the Office for National Statistics states that 51 percent of low-income families or those on benefits have no access to the internet or digital devices.
This digital divide is a problem that affects people from all walks of life. It is a multifaceted issue, but two main situations define this gap: access to high-speed internet and access to devices such as laptops and tablets. Many of the individuals who struggle from the digital divide face both.
In some areas, internet access can be limited, unavailable, or unaffordable for those who could be equipped. Even with a reliable internet connection, access to certain digital spaces can remain a challenge, tantalisingly just out of reach for those who cannot afford costly tools like laptops and software.
This is the dilemma that many regions of the North west are currently struggling with and this is why the team at Nybble IT in Blackburn pledged to help their local borough of Blackburn with Darwen in the fight against Digital poverty
Two local charities, Blackburn Youth Zone and Secret Santa CIC had already spearheaded a campaign to get digital devices to the children that needed them. Nybble IT were also approached by a group of local schools, Star Academies to develop a direct donation of refurbished devices for their students. The demand became very apparent, very quickly.
With the arrival of the third national lockdown due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Blackburn Youth Zone had to adapt their offer to ensure they were providing an online digital youth session for the vast majority of young people across the borough.
With that came a demand for the technology to ensure young people had access to their school classes and Blackburn Youth Zone digital offer.
Phil Boulding from Secret Santa had also launched his own campaign to collect and distribute laptops and tablets to those who needed them and was single handedly refurbishing large numbers of device to meet the heavy demand.
Ram Gupta MD of Nybble IT was quick to see that both charities needed support and offered the services of his technical team to provide a collection hub and to refurbish any devices that were donated making them fit for purpose once they were passed to the local children. In many cases this involved wiping the devices of their old data and upgrading them to Windows 10, the latest operating system
Nybble IT have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the local business community in supporting the collaboration and realised that without the individual efforts of the charities and the businesses that got involved, the campaign would have struggled to gain traction.
Preparations are now being made to distribute the devices via the Youth Zone, Secret Santa and direct to Star Academies but Nybble IT believe that the real work to bridge the digital divide is only just beginning and will continue to be a challenge in the ‘levelling up’ that society requires to provide a brighter future for our children.