A LOCAL community interest company helping to bridge the digital divide in Tameside has reached the finals of a prestigious awards ceremony.
Tameside Community Computers CIC is one of four organisations nominated in the ‘Digital Inclusion Award’ category at this year’s Internet Service Providers Awards.
Representatives from the company will be attending the ceremony at the Old War Offices in Whitehall, London, on Thursday (November 9).
For the founder and CEO of Tameside Community Computers CIC, it is a very proud moment.
“This is an enormous honour for such a relatively new organisation that was born out of the need to address the digital divide locally,” said Mike Brooks.
“It is a tribute to all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make a real difference to local people who are struggling financially and find themselves unable to afford the technology that we, as a society, are so dependent on in everyday life.
“I am extremely proud of everyone, including everyone who has supported us on this journey. We believe that we have quite a unique service point in that we give our refurbished devices, free of charge, to those most deserving of them in our communities.
“Unlike other similar organisations, we do not loan out or charge anything for them. However, we do welcome any financial donations that we receive, as this helps us refurbish or purchase new devices to reach even more people.”
Tameside Community Computers CIC only launched in August last year, born on the back of the fine community work carried out by ZenTec Network Solutions during the Covid pandemic.
During that challenging time, the directors of the Dukinfield-based professional business IT support company – Mike Brooks and Cerid Grimshaw – identified the need to utilise their skills to help those who found themselves in ‘digital poverty’ when forced to stay at home for work and school.
So far, Tameside Community Computers CIC and ZenTec combined have donated close to 4,000 devices to people experiencing digital exclusion or digital poverty, completely free of charge, and more devices are going out to those in need every week.
Explaining how the organisation receives the devices initially and what happens to them before being distributed into the community, Cerid said: “We take in donated devices from companies, organisations and individuals, then refurbish them including a certified data wipe to securely destroy any sensitive information that they may contain.
“The volunteers then reinstall a new operating system on them, and they go through rigorous testing to make sure that they are suitable to donate out to deserving people.
“Any devices that are not economically viable to refurbish, or that are too old, are stripped of its component parts and, if these are able to be used to repair other devices, we keep them.
“Everything else is recycled through registered companies and we receive a cash injection from them that is used to buy more parts or devices. Nothing goes to landfill, it’s all repurposed in some way.”
Tameside Community Computers CIC do not accept direct referrals for free devices, as this must come through organisations including local authorities, charities, schools and community groups that support people living in digital poverty which apply for a device on the person’s behalf.
To find out more about the organisation or to donate a device, visit https://www.tamesidecc.org for further details.