Date issued 28 October
The North East Essex Digital Access Support Team - which is funded and managed by Colchester Borough Council, Tendring District Council and North East Essex Clinical Commission Group - has been awarded 40 smartphones and ten tablets (with 24 gigabytes each) to give to residents to help them stay connected during Covid -19.
The devices were awarded to the team in August and October by the Good Things Foundation, FutureDotNow and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as part of an emergency campaign.
The campaign, Everyone Connected, aims to reach 1.9 million UK households who don’t have access to the internet and are digitally excluded.
The North East Essex Digital Access Support Team has been helping vulnerable residents get online since 2018, offering free support across Colchester and Tendring.
Since coronavirus first reached the area the team has been helping residents download and use apps to ensure they can stay connected with their loved ones, access medical appointments remotely, order groceries online, and much more.
The new devices provided by Everyone Connected will help residents not to become excluded as they face a socially distanced world. Before devices are donated the team will install essential apps for customers, whilst updating paperwork to aide them to use the device and how to access online information.
Residents are given one-to-one support to provide knowledge, understanding and confidence to use their new device; as well as contact details to ensure they can call the team for further assistance.
Pam Merrick, a Colchester resident, said: “I received my tablet in August and get so much pleasure in seeing my grandchildren when I can’t see them in person.
“I get so much joy from learning new things, especially at my age, and using my tablet is so educational and makes me very excited.”
The Digital Access Support Team worked with partners to identify residents who would benefit most from the scheme and met the Everyone Connected criteria, which included no existing access to the internet, amongst other things.
The devices awarded in October will be given to residents already identified in November, in time for Christmas.
Cllr Mike Lilley, Portfolio Holder for Communities, Wellbeing and Public Safety, said: “The Digital Access Support Team is committed to helping every resident to stay connected during these turbulent times.
“They may be a small team, but they’ve already helped hundreds of residents to get online during the pandemic so they can connect with friends, family, and the wider world. I applaud each and every one of them.”
Cllr Lynda McWilliams, Portfolio Holder for Partnerships at Tendring District Council, said: “With continued restrictions on close contact with people the Digital Access Support Team is perfectly placed to help people – and while they have done great work finding those who need help, we need your support too.
“So, if you, or someone you know needs help with digital technology or could benefit from being online in some way, then please get in touch.”
If you or a loved one need help with digital technology, call the team (Colchester 01206 282452 or Tendring 01255 686497) or visit the Digital Access Support Team website, colchester.gov.uk/digitalaccesssupport, to find out more or book onto a free online tutorial.