Mayor calls for businesses to help tackle digital poverty

By Nick Batten on 18 March, 2021

Regional Mayor Tim Bowles is supporting a business-led campaign to supply community groups, schools and charities in need of laptops and other IT equipment.

The Mayor and the West of England Combined Authority have joined forces with Business in the Community’s ‘National Business Response Network’ which is leading the campaign.

Covid-19 and the shift to online working is challenging for many communities across the West of England and the National Business Response Network has been set up to match business resources to community needs.

Specific needs include:

  • Laptops for children and young people from low-income households in the South West, who would otherwise struggle to continue learning from home and remain connected when needed. Although most schools are now back, there is a high chance of smaller groups isolating from time to time as well as homework being set online.
  • Laptops for young people who are not in education, employment or training and facing additional barriers and hardship.
  • Mobile phones for refugees and homeless people fleeing difficult situations with little support, to help them keep connected and access essential support services.

Tim said, “We are working with Business in the Community to appeal to businesses and organisations to donate old devices to charities for upcycling so that the most vulnerable communities can get connected.

“As part of our Recovery Plan, the Combined Authority’s Workforce for the Future and Digital Skills programmes are geared towards giving our businesses people with the skills needed to adapt and evolve in our changing world. We are also helping residents to gain basic skills and get online through our Adult Education Budget. By offering more opportunities for all of our residents to connect digitally with technology like this, together we can secure our recovery and safeguard the jobs of the future.”

Rick Sturge, Chair of the Business in the Community South West Leadership Board, said, “Through the National Business Response Network we are supporting community groups, schools and charities in need, matching them with the businesses that can donate goods or services.

“We have already helped more than 86,700 people in the south west of England as they struggle to get the food, digital technology and care essentials that they need to survive the impact of Covid-19 on their jobs, lives and communities.”

Businesses who can help can either visit www.nbrn.org.uk and identify a specific request to support or contact nbrn@bitc.org.uk / 0300 303 3993 to make an offer or to find out more about what is needed in their own communities.