The Age Friendly Banbury partnership is continuing its support for local older people with its Connect! project. The first phase of the project aims to help existing users, who already have access to a device, become more confident. This will enable them to do more – such as shop online, access services, socialise, find information, and connect with friends and families.
Getting Oxfordshire Online seeks to tackle digital exclusion across the whole of Oxfordshire. It will put the infrastructure in place to deliver a sustainable, long-term solution to the problem of digital exclusion. It will do this through a collaborative, partnership approach, bringing together organisations with the necessary skills and experience, and learning from existing support-based services and initiatives that have already been successful in tackling this issue.
Getting Oxfordshire Online will address lack of access to devices and data, and support people with the training they need.
Building the refurbishment capacity
We will set up hubs across the county to receive donations of laptops, tablets and smart phones from members of the public and businesses, wipe and prepare them, and deliver them to organisations.
Developing solutions for data and connectivity
We will support users to access lower-cost deals for wi-fi connection and data – to meet their needs efficiently, and add our voice to national initiatives that will offer better long-term solutions for those who currently can’t get the access they need.
Taking a phased approach to needs and training
We will link into trusted organisations to offer relevant training, building confidence and skills, so devices are used to maximum effect.
Creating a donations pipeline
We will seek funding, resources and capacity from government, philanthropic and in-kind donations. The project received kickstart match funding from Our Common Good, an OCF Donor Advised Fund.
- Somewhere between 34k and 43k people in Oxfordshire are not online.
- Nationally, 34% of children aged 5–16 do not have access to their own device.
- COVID-19 and lockdowns have highlighted the existing disadvantage of not being online.
- Oxfordshire has close to the best broadband coverage in the country: 98% of homes and businesses have access to superfast broadband (nationally the target is 95% by 2025).
- There are estimated to be tens of thousands internet-enabled devices sitting unused in homes and businesses in Oxfordshire, which could be refurbished to meet the demand.
- Oxfordshire has a concentration of knowledge, expertise and potential.
The impact of the pandemic has highlighted that without digital access you are genuinely excluded from much of life. Home schooling without suitable devices, no access to homeless services, or isolation in older age. Project Manager Olwen chatted with B4 CEO, Richard Rosser in February about the need for increased focus on this area – with or without the effects of COVID.
OCF is delighted to welcome Olwen Lintern-Smyth as Project Manager for our new initiative Getting Oxfordshire Online. Our new collaborative initiative aims to get more people online by refurbishing devices, unlocking more data and connectivity, and upskilling beneficiaries.