At a celebration breakfast organised by Citizens:mk and hosted by Fishermead Trinity Community Centre, MK Mayor Mohammed Khan presented community leaders with 35 laptops.
The devices were donated by Circular Computers, through Veritas Digital Services Ltd.’s Laptops4learning scheme www.laptops4learning.co.uk which tackles digital inequality by the repair and reuse of surplus technology.
30 devices will be used by pupils of Jubilee Wood Primary School and 5 will be used to start an internet café at Trinity Centre.
This initiative follows a listening campaign involving 61 residents. 41% had trouble accessing the internet and 59% said they would use the internet cafe.
A survey of school pupils showed 114 pupils can’t access devices at home for school work. “What we have received through this initiative will make a huge difference to them,” said head teacher Matt O’Brien. “It’s good to work alongside others who take pride in the community and want to make it as good as possible for our children.”
28 children from Willows First School, led by head teacher Jo Orbell, sang ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ to great applause.
Local resident Ophelia Cole, Chair of Trinity Centre Management Committee, who has been trained by Citizens:mk, said: “I strongly believe in working with institutions who contribute towards developing residents and changing the negative press about Fishermead. I hope this centre will one day become the hub where all residents meet to support and encourage each other, where those who are strong give a helping hand to those who are struggling.”
The event was also attended by Debbie Gockelen, Assistant Principal of MK Academy secondary school, who said: “Our work with the community through Citizens:mk has encouraged active citizenship and empowered our students to make a difference in their communities. It’s good to be here and see other schools getting together to support digital inclusion.”
Sue Gowling, Founder of Veritas Digital Services, said: “We set up Laptops4learning back at the start of the pandemic to get sustainable, affordable tech and donations out to those in need. We are delighted to be able to help the Fishermead community and look forward to extending our work with Citizens:MK and Citizens UK”.
Rev Ian Herbert, a Trinity Centre trustee, said: “We need to reach out to residents who are digitally excluded. Working together with schools, faith and other community groups, we can.”
This initiative is part of a project funded by MK Community Foundation to build an alliance of Fishermead community groups to take action together, in partnership with Campbell Park Parish Council, to improve their community. If you would like your community group to be involved, contact Community Organiser Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685.
(Pictured above: Cllr Mohammed Khan, Mayor of Milton Keynes, presenting 5 laptops and a partnership certificate to Heinz Elbers, Trinity Centre trustee.)