Baroness Lane-Fox, who established Go ON UK and aims to make the UK the most digitally skilled nation in the world, says: “Affordable access to being online will transform the lives of everyone that hasn’t been able to get online before. With so much online now, from paying bills and banking to job applications, connecting with people and getting the very best deals, being online is no longer a nice to have, it is an essential.”As people get older, they find many restrictions in their everyday life, and using a computer and being online in their own home represents a positive life change. It increases their independence and makes their life easier. The need for training is a key issue to develop the necessary skills and confidence to become proficient in the use of technology too. Another customer, Jerry Morgan, was new to computers and after investing in a computer through Get Online @ Home, was keen to learn how to use the computer and discover what benefits it could bring to his everyday life. Jerry contacted his Housing Association who had a Digital Inclusion Officer providing Free I.T classes in the community. Jerry shared how the computer has benefited him, “Since having a computer, I’ve learned about things like Skype, enabling me to talk to my family in New Zealand and America strengthening my family ties. I also use the computer quite a lot to compare prices. Before I recently bought a car for example, I looked round all the car dealerships online to make sure I got a good deal.”Another customer, Philip, found out about Microsoft Digital Inclusion Initiative ‘Get Online @ Home’ through his Housing Association and invested in his own computer. Phillip said “It was excellent value. I got a laptop which looked almost brand new. They had already loaded Microsoft packages, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook onto the laptop. It even came with a basic training programme which means I can learn about the internet and online security in my own time. It’s marvellous, you couldn’t ask for better”Phillip spends about £10-a-month on his Pay As You Go mobile broadband dongle. £10 top up a month is estimated to be the average months’ worth of internet browsing.
Jane Hearnis a Job Centre Advisor in Aylesbury regularly uses Get Online @ Home to ensure her Job seekers have regular access to a computer and ability to get online in their own home.
After discovering one of her claimants had limited access to getting online to complete their daily online job searching requirements, she realised this was acting as barrier and disadvantage to the claimant being able to find work. Jane was made aware of the Microsoft Digital Inclusion Initiative and amazed by how quick and easy the service was.
Jane went on to highlight the importance of getting online for her Job Seekers and why Get Online @ Home has been so beneficial. “Many Job Seekers here in Aylesbury struggle to have regular access to the internet and complete their daily online Job Search responsibilities. Get Online @ Home helps provide an affordable solution for our Job Seekers. I know several of the advisors here in the Office regularly use the service and they are all very pleased with ease and speed of the service.
RNIB collaborated with Computer Recyclers in 2013 to provide an affordable solution for blind and partially sighted people with no access to a computer at home.
For 61 year old Tony Markham, the need for being online was to read books. Tony had never used a computer before, but having realised the affordability of this new package he took full advantage of it. He said: “I was curious to get online and visit websites such as the RNIB Book Club. The NVDA & IVONA screen reading software with this package allows me to go online, find a book and have the text converted to speech. Using the very clear and easy to understand screen-reading IVONA voice I can now enjoy books again.”
Partially sighted Donna Branston, 32, wanted to continue learning how to use a computer at weekly RNIB I.T courses to improve her knowledge and make the most of being online in her own home. Donna also has regular home visits from an RNIB volunteer to provide further help on top of the I.T courses she attends.
Donna said “Everything about this service is brilliant, I went to RNIB to find out where or how I could afford a PC, and they referred me to Computer Recyclers UK. I placed my order over the phone and it was delivered to me within 10 working days. I now enjoy watching videos, checking emails and reading the daily news online”
A fact finding mission via Twitter and various Housing Association websites in my I first started my role as Digital Inclusion project officer in July 2014, pointed me in the direction of the Get Online @ Home initiative, of which Computer Recyclers UK are a partner organisation. I stumbled across a really interesting news item on Charter Housing Trust’s website that sparked lots of questions in my mind. Charter Housing were piloting a scheme to give away free PC’s and laptops to their tenants via Computer Recyclers UK. This was something that I wanted to be able to offer at Southway Housing Trust but I had no idea to go about it. I followed this up by contacting Computer Recyclers UK via Twitter and Marcus Griffiths responded. After a lengthy telephone conversation it was apparent that we were going to be able to work together in the future.
In the months following our initial conversation Marcus provided invaluable advisory support which lead to us placing our first order. As an organisation we were just starting our Digital Inclusion journey and Marcus provided lots of information and his experience that he had gained through working with other housing associations. Marcus and Computer Recyclers UK have always gone above and beyond, to accommodate requests from the different tenant groups that I come into contact with. So far we’ve placed orders for over 20 laptops and we’ve had no issues with any of the equipment that has been delivered thus far.
We’re so happy with the service that we’ve received from Computer Recyclers UK that we’re embarking on a partnership project with them to deliver an organisation wide IT equipment loan scheme in conjunction with a home connectivity pilot starting in September this year.
Digital Inclusion within the UK Housing sector is growing at an alarming rate with more and more Housing Associations putting more emphasis and focusing more of their efforts on on providing ‘Digital for All.’ With this in mind, whenever I am asked t o discuss my projects with my peers, Computer Recyclers UK are always at the front of my mind to recommend. I am aware that there are lots of different suppliers out there in the refurbished computer market. However, I feel as though the values that Computer Recyclers UK and the Get Online @ Home initiative hold are closely aligned with Southway’s as an organisation and I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.
St Stephen’s Neighbourhood Centre, in Annandale Road, Greatfield, has launched its new Learning Zone facility which will run computer skills session for adults and gaming social clubs for kids.
The Learning Zone has recently been fitted with six high-spec PCs, monitors from Computer Recyclers UK and Lightstream broadband by Hull communications company KCOM in a bid to increase digital inclusion in the area.
KCOM was initially approached by Marfleet ward councillor and former Lord Mayor Sean Chaytor to install an IT suite at St Stephen’s Neighbourhood Centre as part of a plan to help local residents get online.
Cllr Chaytor said: “We are delighted that our community has a new IT suite for the use of residents of Marfleet Ward, and of Greatfield in particular, thanks to our local telecommunications provider, KCOM, in conjunction with St Stephen’s Neighbourhood Centre.
“The need for an IT suite to serve the needs of local residents, in particular those seeking employment, education and benefits together with the health and family services that the internet provides, is vital to many that do not have computers at home – especially those that need a computer to apply for jobs, benefits and health appointments.
“This is proof of what a partnership between KCOM, local councillors and the local community can deliver for our residents.”
As well as running multi-player Minecraft games for Greatfield youngsters, the centre also holds introductory sessions for older computer users on using software such as email and Skype.
“We now have the capability to help our youth club members finish homework and learn about internet security. Our older youth club members use the PCs for gaming.
“We also want local residents to brush up on their computer skills, learn how to Skype, make doctor’s appointments or job search. If local residents want to use the PCs then please contact us to book in some time or, if the door is open, come in. We have a job club and a computer skills course available already so if people want to join either they are more than welcome.”
Brendon Smurthwaite, KCOM community coordinator, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to help this excellent community centre continue its work to tackle digital exclusion and bringing the benefits of the internet to more people in Greatfield.
“The six PCs we have supplied combined with our ultrafast Lightstream broadband mean guests at St Stephen’s will be able to expand their horizons online – whether that’s through creating new worlds on Minecraft or by brushing up their CVs and learning new IT skills.”
“In 2017 Mind Aberystwyth received a set of computers and laptops from Computer Recyclers UK. This has made a huge difference to the development of our organisation at every level. Our previous PCs and laptops were outdated, which caused issues with productivity and morale in the office. The new PCs mean that staff can more efficiently carry out their duties without disruption and work remotely using laptops.
“We have also revamped our time sheet and calendar system and now use online calendars for all of our scheduling. We have also delivered training sessions using the machines and may use some of them for IT literacy and digital inclusion groups, bringing even more benefit to our service users. This simply would not have been as feasible with our old machines.
“Overall we are becoming a more digitally-focused organisation, with our support workers now using smartphones and an overall higher standard of IT literacy across the organisation. This is largely due to the support of Computer Recyclers UK, which has helped our staff to view computers as vital assets to their work rather than a hindrance.”
- For more details about St Stephen’s Neighbourhood Centre visit www.ssnc.org.uk
- For more details about what KCOM does in the community visit www.kcomhome.com/community
- For more details regarding Computer Recyclers UK services visit www.computerrecyclersuk.com