Recycled computers will help close digital divide for people struggling in Glasgow

By Ellen Thomson at

Five hundred vulnerable people in Glasgow are to receive free recycled computers.

The refurbished IT will allow refugees, low income households and students to access essential services and learning resources.

The move will help close the digital divide that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.

Computer

Somali Association in Glasgow, represented by Mohamed Amber (left), Sophie Unwin from the Remade Network (front) and Cllr Susan Aitken. Photo: Iain McLean,

The leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr Susan Aitken, and Patrick Harvie MSP helped launch the project.

Remade Network, a consortium of community organisations, has been awarded a contract by Glasgow City Council to refurbish unwanted IT kit.

The Scottish Government has purchased the first 500 of the refurbished computers so they can be given away through its digital inclusion programme.

Sophie Unwin, Director of Remade Network, said: “Life was already difficult for people who don’t have a computer.

“When you add COVID to this it becomes pretty serious.

‘Helping’

“This project is helping people study, access basic services and not be isolated and at home on their own.

“Working together with other community groups, and with Glasgow City Council’s support, we’ve been able to develop a growing programme across the city.”

Susan Aitken said: “Closing Glasgow’s digital divide is a priority for the council because it can drive real improvements in people’s quality of life – from education, skills and employment through to their health.

“This collaboration with the Remade Network is part of meeting that challenge. It will not only put IT equipment into homes that are currently digitally excluded, but also establish affordable repair services and support new jobs.

Computers

Closing Glasgow’s digital divide is a priority for the council. Photo: Iain McLean.

 

“It is an ambitious but practical model that I’m looking forward to seeing scaled up across the city as part of a green recovery that also tackles inequality.”

Patrick Harvie said: “Repairing and reusing have always been activities which bring people together, as well as showing how a sustainable economy can also be a productive one.

“That’s why I’m pleased to see this new initiative start up in Glasgow, seizing on the desire with our communities to build back better as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Somali Association in Glasgow, which organises sports and activities for the local Somali community, will be one of the first groups to receive a computer.

‘Teach’

Mohamed Amber, Chair, at the Somali Association: “These computers will help us teach digital skills to adults, parents and carers who are much less digitally engaged than the younger generation.

“Learning how to access the internet, make video calls, search for jobs and communicate with their families that are often living in a distant country will help bridge gaps and bring families closer together.”

The partners in Remade Network are Govanhill Baths Community Trust; Repair Café Glasgow; Glasgow Tool Library; and The Pram Project.

Govanhill Baths Community Trust manager Fatima Ugyun said: “COVID-19 has shone a light on inequality and the community sector has pulled together to respond.

“This is a great partnership for us that will help deliver local people with essential products and services.”

Computers

The computers will help teach digital skills to adults, parents and carers. Photo: Iain McLean.

 

Sophie Unwin had the idea for the project after being inspired by living in rural Nepal and creating less than a dustbin of rubbish in a year.

She has set up Remade projects in Brixton in 2008, and Edinburgh in 2011.

In 2017 she was named UK Social Entrepreneur of the Year for plans to replicate and scale up Remade’s impact through the Remade Network.

Its ambition is for Glasgow is to have affordable repair facilities across the city, creating jobs for local people in repair skills.