Thousands of digital devices given free to communities in Birmingham

The council’s digital bank scheme is a huge success, with real benefits for local groups. 

Birmingham City Council is currently busy decommissioning and refurbishing several thousand digital devices that are being donated free to local community groups.

three people sitting in front of table laughing together

We reported in January on the pilot scheme that saw 600 devices distributed among 85 charities across Birmingham. Since then, a further 1,303 devices have been approved for 103 community groups, with another 14 devices also granted to other applicants. 

The positive impact is already being felt across the region. 

One beneficiary of the scheme is the Low Vision Centre run by Focus Birmingham, which received a donation of 10 laptops. ‘Our goal is to enable people with sight loss,’ says Barrie Lane, Lead Sight Loss Coordinator. ‘These laptops will truly complement our efforts to empower our service users to understand and utilise assistive technology, leading to independence, connectivity and social inclusion.’ 

Laptops have also been donated to the charity Breaking Barriers. ‘Our clients are from refugee backgrounds and often have to rebuild their lives when they resettle in the UK,’ says Deanna Davis, Employment and Integration Advisor. ‘Whether it’s learning English, retraining or applying for jobs to gain work and financial independence, there are many barriers to doing this, one being digital access.’  

The donated laptops have, ‘really opened up doors of opportunity and assisted with [clients’] integration to the city,’ she continues. ‘Some have been able to apply for jobs, better manage their universal credit accounts and others access online English classes which they are very grateful for.’ 

The scheme is part of Birmingham council’s wider digital strategy, which was developed with citizens, businesses and staff to ensure better design and delivery of online services. 

‘It is fantastic to see this scheme bearing fruit and the positive feedback from the community,’ says Cllr Jayne Francis, Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage and Tourism. ‘Digital access is so important, it helps build confidence and can be a vital skill when it comes to applying for jobs.’ 

‘I’d encourage any organisations that think they may qualify to apply.’ 

Charities and community groups can apply to take part in the device bank scheme on the Birmingham City Council website.

Photo by Brooke Cagle


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