“The pandemic has highlighted invisible inequalities and increasing social divides” * not least because it brought into sharp focus the effects of being digitally excluded. This demands a joint effort in response, from local government, charitable organisations and the business community.
To that end, in April 2021, following a Zoom meeting of the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Taskforce, PCrefurb Trustee Steve Lafferty got in touch with Richard Zhou (pictured here), Huawei’s Government Affairs Director, and a proposal was discussed regarding a possible donation of devices.
This led to an agreement that Huawei UK would donate 120 Dell laptops to PCrefurb for refurbishment and distribution. Thirty would be allocated to six charities within Greater Manchester. The remainder would be passed to vulnerable individuals referred to PCrefurb, and used to support its Digital Wellbeing Project via a lending library.
To mark the donation, a reception was held at Dukinfield Town Hall on the 30th July, which brought together representatives of PCrefurb, Huawei UK, Tameside Council, GMCA and the charities benefitting.
The reception was a celebration of the benefits of working collaboratively as remarked by Councillor Janet Cooper, Civic Mayor of Tameside: “I hope that this brilliant example of working together stands as a great exemplar to others, and can be built upon across both Tameside and Greater Manchester.”
The Director of Government and Public Affairs of Huawei UK, Ashley Lumsden spoke to those assembled prior to handing the laptops to the charities present.
He mentioned the importance of not only providing the means to get online but also the necessity going forward of supporting recipients’ learning needs, “with the help of groups like PCrefurb we can work across this area supporting digital skills development”.
The reception was an opportunity for the organisations present to comment about the benefits of receiving the laptops for those they work with. Wendy Webster, Head of Centre at White Bridge College (a pupil referral unit) spoke about the changes within education recently “the blended learning package of on site and online can leave students behind”. The laptops provided by Huawei will help to prevent this happening in the future.
The final speech of the reception was given by Councillor Ed Kelly, Chair of Trustees at PCrefurb. He highlighted the importance of PCrefurb’s volunteers in refurbishing the donated equipment, which is fully erased to industry standards and then reinstalled with Windows 10 Pro, prior to distribution. He also praised the event’s donor “It’s wonderful that Huawei has shown its commitment to bridge the digital divide”.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester stated within a press release about the donation by Huawei UK that “the time is coming where we need to see digital connectivity as a basic human right”. PCrefurb is determined to continue this collaborative approach, working with local government and the business community to make this ‘human right’ a reality for more vulnerable people.
*(Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, press release, 30/07/21)
All photographs, unless otherwise credited, by Joseph Stanton @stantography / stantography.co.uk