The newly launched Ready Tech Go is supplying people across the borough with tablets and kindles in a bid to combat technology poverty.
For some families with children, lack of access to technology has had a huge impact on education during lockdown. The Sutton Trust found that in the most deprived areas of the UK, 15% of teachers said that at least a third of their class would not have access to electronic devices to learn at home, compared to just 2% from affluent state schools. Vulnerable older adults have also been badly affected. According to Age UK, 61% of people over 75s do not use the internet regularly, and 4.2 million have never used it. Throughout the pandemic the country has been reliant on digital services, leaving many people without virtual connections almost completely isolated.
In Hammersmith & Fulham, Ready Tech Go was launched by six local volunteers to supply vulnerable residents with devices and internet connections. “We noticed there was a lack of digital services for the elderly and they were cut off from the rest of the world,” explains the group’s chair, Kanwar Singh. “We also found in some families kids were doing homework on their phones and had no access to a proper internet connection.” He adds that some of the older residents had never used any online services.
“We got the team together and appealed for tablets and kindles to be donated. One of our team members is an IT expert with a background in security. He cleans the tablets and if it meets the criteria then we donate it.” They work with local organisations in the community, who refer them to families and individuals in need. Since launching in June, they’ve received 26 donations.
Volunteer, Nikos, delivers a tablet to a local family
While Singh says families tend to be more tech savvy, older people often need help using the internet for the first time. “When we get a referral we go and see what they need. It could involve helping them set up an email or other channels they need to use.”
Another charity in White City, What The Tech, offers additional technology guidance, covering everything from charging devices to operating tablets.
“It’s been an eye opener for me. London’s one of the richest cities in the world and we have so many pockets where people have been neglected,” says Singh. “At Ready Tech Go, we all believe that communication and access to technology should not be a privilege, it should be a right. It’s the only way to stay connected to the world, particularly during the pandemic.”
To donate a tablet or kindle, contact Tomas Evans, Director of Communications, 07518915209