January 19, 2022
With the latest variant of COVID-19 causing a self-isolation crisis, the Getting Oxfordshire Online partnership is keen to reach more people who cannot reap the benefits of internet access.
Organisations that support struggling families, isolated older people, jobseekers and other at-risk groups are being urged to get in touch with Getting Oxfordshire Online, a local partnership that provides laptops and other support to improve digital inclusion.
With the increased impact of the Omicron variant, people’s behaviours and support systems are yet again being disrupted. Work-from-home guidance, the widespread need to self-isolate, and the impact of continual uncertainty on mental health are all key concerns. With up to 40,000 people in Oxfordshire not online, local charities know there are still too many people in need of access to the internet at this difficult time.
Charitable partners in the Getting Oxfordshire Online initiative want to ensure that as many people as possible have the equipment, connectivity, skills and confidence to be online. The partnership’s Chair Sarah Mitson says: “The current phase of the pandemic is proving yet again that being online is a need not a luxury. We need the help of support organisations and the general public to identify individuals or families who can’t afford or don’t have the knowledge to connect to the internet.”
Getting Oxfordshire Online was launched in September 2021 in response to the pandemic. Partners in three locations across the county accept devices donated by businesses and the public, refurbish them and pass them to people who need them. They can also help people to access the data, training and support they need to get online. The partnership accepts referrals from schools, councils, charities and community groups that support disadvantaged individuals or families.
Local school The Oxford Academy received 32 reconditioned laptops in November from Getting Oxfordshire Online. They said: “All our homework is set on Google Classroom, which enables students to access work and communicate with their teachers. The laptops enabled us to give students devices to work on at home, who previously were working on their mobile phones, and in some cases had no devices at all. They were also extremely valuable during a period of remote learning to enable students to access the live learning lessons. We’re grateful to work in partnership with our community to support our learners.”
- If your organisation works with people that need devices or other support with getting online, please get in touch to refer them to the Getting Oxfordshire Online service.
- If you’re an individual and you aren’t already working with a support agency, Getting Oxfordshire Online can link you up with local community groups so that together they can support you with getting online – please contact us to ask for advice.
- If you have unwanted laptops to donate, Getting Oxfordshire Online is gratefully receiving donations.