Fire stations used as charity drop-off points to help combat digital exclusion

Staff from Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) celebrate ongoing success with local charity DigiLocal in helping to tackle Bristol’s digital poverty crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to change their daily routines and ways of working to keep themselves and others safe. Teaching and education were especially affected, with young people having to log on and communicate with teachers from home.

However, recent studies suggest that nearly 12% of young people don’t have access to the internet, making home learning a near impossible task. Many young people and families do not have access to a laptop or similar device which not only impacts their learning but could also lead to them falling behind with their schoolwork, affecting their future.

Since partnering with DigiLocal, staff from AF&RS have successfully coordinated the donation of over 800 laptops across their stations, which have been used as drop-off points for the repurposed tech.

A Bristol based charity, DigiLocal supports the education of young people by giving them access to technology. The charity also hosts free tech clubs for young people across the community, helping to combat digital poverty.

 

Vaughan Jenkins, Head of Transformation for AF&RS and co-ordinator of the initiative said: “The ongoing success of this collaboration would not have been possible without the generosity of local people, and to them, I’d like to offer my personal thanks. As a result of this great work, over 800 laptops have been donated so far to those who are otherwise digitally excluded. The efforts of AF&RS, local people and DigiLocal have ensured that members of our communities can access the technology they need to be able to continue to learn from home, which is something to be truly proud of.

“The initiative wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity shown by our communities and the hard work demonstrated by our staff who’ve been working tirelessly to ensure that the laptops reach the charity with no delays. We believe these laptops will make a huge difference to those who require them, and we are thrilled to be able to support DigiLocal in trying to minimise the impact of digital poverty.”

“John Bradford the CEO at DigiLocal who we are working in partnership with estimates the value of each laptop repurposed at around £350 in monetary terms which equates to around £300,000 pounds worth of donations using our sites as the conduit. That however pales into insignificance to the difference these will have made value wise to the children/families that have received them during the pandemic allowing them to continue schooling safely and giving them better life chances going forward by not missing out on education due to digital exclusion.

DigiLocal CEO John Bradford said: “The initiative wouldn’t have been possible without the continued support of AF&RS, who have kindly offered their support and stations which acted as public donation points for the laptops.

“The support we’ve received from Avon Fire & Rescue has been instrumental in helping us to tackle digital poverty, ensuring those who don’t have access to technology at home now do. You’ve truly helped hundreds of young people across our local area, so thank you.”

 

How can you get involved?

If you would like to help tackle digital poverty, and would like to donate a laptop please visit https://digilocal.org.uk/laptop-donations/ to fill out a donation form before dropping it off at one of the below drop off points.