Huawei and Middlesbrough-based charity team up to get Tees youngsters connected

Chinese tech giant Huawei has donated laptops and tablets to a Tees charity as part of a drive to close the digital inclusion gap across the UK.

Middlesbrough-based The Hope Foundation, established in 1995, provides opportunities for learning, access to technology, careers advice, volunteering opportunities and support.

It received more than 100 laptops from Huawei executives at an event in the charity’s café on Grange Road.

The Hope Foundation helped to create FurbdIT, a service which accepts donations such as computers, monitors, and games consoles. All devices are wiped securely and professionally refurbished.

The organisation is now set to allocate the laptops to groups across the region, including Ageing Better Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland Mind, NHS Paediatrics & Diabetes, SFTV Hartlepool and Ubuntu CIC.

In Middlesbrough during the first lockdown, when the clinically vulnerable were asked to shield, 72 per cent of around 2,500 people supported through the Help Boro Hub didn’t have access to the internet in their home. This meant that they could not communicate with the outside world and were unable to contact their GP or do online shopping, with many lonely and isolated.

The campaign to tackle gaps in access to digital technology is being supported by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.

A spokesperson for Tees Valley Combined Authority said: “The pandemic has taught us all the importance of, and our reliance on, digital technology. The ability to connect to family and friends, shops and businesses as well as the wealth of support services that people rely on is critical. These laptops will make a real difference to those that are digitally excluded and will make a real positive impact to people’s lives across the Tees Valley.”

Foundation CEO Sue Kearney said “Here in the Tees Valley, access to devices, connectivity and the appropriate digital skills is a real issue for local people. This support from Huawei enables us to get laptops and tablets to those people that need them most.

“By distributing the devices through our South Tees Digital partners, we are sure that the Huawei donations will make a real difference to local people’s lives. Other businesses and individuals can follow Huawei’s lead to make a difference by donating unwanted devices through our recycling platform www.furbdit.org.uk.”

Huawei Global Vice-President Victor Zhang added: “If the UK is to meet its ambitions to level up the country, access to digital technology is going to be key not to mention acquiring basic technology skills.

“As part of our long-standing commitment to the UK, we are proud to play our part in closing the digital inclusion gap and feel a responsibility as a global technology leader to help charities like The Hope Foundation equip people and communities with the skills and equipment needed to make their way in the digital world.”

The full list of local organisations to benefit is: Ageing Better Middlesbrough; Coatham House; Community Ventures LTD; Groundwork NE & Cumbria; Redcar & Cleveland Mind; Open Door North East; NHS Paediatrics & Diabetes; Recovery Connections; SFTV Hartlepool; Rekindle; Streets Ahead for Information; The Hope Foundation; Together Middlesbrough; Ubuntu Centre CIC; FurbdIT; IPC (Investing in People and Culture).