Digital Together: Improving digital inclusion

A partnership between educational and digital organisations, Creative Tuition Collective, Digilocal, Blackmoore Ricotech and the University of Bristol, is providing computer access to local communities across the City.

The initiative, named Digital Together, was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought into focus the digital disparity faced by around 1 million children, young adults, elderly and their families across the UK. Without access to a device or connectivity at home, approximately 10,000 young students faced educational exclusion in Bristol whilst receiving lessons at home.

In 2021, the University donated a total of 17 surplus computers to community organisations to support those with reduced digital accessibility. Initially, five computers were donated to a café at Barton Hill Settlement to serve those in the Easton area. Tracey Massey, worker at the Settlement, said: “The computers are available in our new and improved Café – people have access on a daily basis, allowing them to connect with the digital world and helping them to navigate the internet in a safe and secure environment, using our free WIFI and facilities. We are aiming to provide IT assistance for service users on a regular basis.”

The second set were distributed to local organisation, Babbasa, which supports underrepresented young people with their career aspirations. Poku Osei, CEO of Babbasa, said “The computers played an invaluable role, enabling learning during a particularly difficult time. Both Babbasa staff and service users are really grateful for the gift and hope there will be other opportunities to collaborate again in the near future”.

The third set was allocated to the Atamai Tutor Centre to support free English, Maths and Science tuition and other work within the Easton community. Finally, computers were donated to the local Somali Centre to distribute the desktops to households that can’t afford to buy a computer.

Digital exclusion remains a feature of poverty and lower grade attainment. Dozens of young people are having to use their mobile phones to access schoolwork and resources for further learning, leading to them experiencing challenges in participating in their education and achieving good grades. To ensure there are no additional costs to the recipients of the computers, Digilocal installed essential software packages to each device. Thanks to the project, countless people are now empowered to learn, develop and achieve through digital activity. Digital Together hopes to continue to process and donate computers to local community organisations to help more people be digitally active, no matter their age, background, or postcode.

For more information please contact sustainability-estates@bristol.ac.uk.

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