Wolves Online is celebrating connecting its 1,000th Wolverhampton resident with a digital device to get online, improve their skills and access learning, employment and essential services.
The device and connectivity lending scheme started as a pilot with seven partners in autumn 2020 and has now grown into a network of 35 trusted city partners working with City of Wolverhampton Council.
The hundreds of devices so far supplied to residents include laptops, tablets, MiFi devices and sim cards.
They have been used to close the digital divide in the city for adult education learners, people on basic skills courses, clients of the Wolves at Work and Black Country Impact employment programmes, vulnerable adults and carers, and to support children and young people with their studies. The Council’s Cabinet Member for Digital City, Councillor Obaida Ahmed, this week visited Wolves Online trusted partner, Secret Angels, at Park Village Education Centre, to hand over the 1,000th device to learner, Maureen Westley.
Councillor Ahmed said: “We are determined to make sure no one is left behind in our city when it comes to digital access and skills - and I was delighted to present the 1,000th Wolves Online device to Maureen.
“City of Wolverhampton Council is committed to digital inclusion. It is fundamental, not a ‘nice to have’ – that is why we have ensured that digital inclusion is an integral part of the city’s Digital Strategy. Digital is the primary means of connection and access to essential services and devices, connectivity and digital skills are crucial for economic resilience and growth, providing a gateway to jobs, progression, social inclusion and cohesion.
“It is crucial all residents can benefit by ensuring they have the devices and connectivity to get online and improve their life chances - we fully recognise how critical and life-changing connectivity can be. The Wolves Online scheme is just one initiative as part of our wider work on being a fully digitally inclusive city.”
Wolves Online trusted partners can also help residents connect with other support including The Good Things Foundation’s Digital Futures Project, supporting residents to improve their digital skills. This is being funded until September 2022 and is a national device and data bank which provides devices, sims and mobile data to people in need.
Wolves Online is also urging local businesses and individuals to donate used computing equipment to Wolves Tech Aid so that Wolverhampton children get the best education.
This project being led by local not for profit creative media agency and apprenticeship provider, LearnPlay, is taking used equipment, digitally cleaning it, wiping the hard disk and distributing it to children in Wolverhampton via schools.