Breaking Islington LONDON

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the essential role of digital technology in keeping people connected. Driven by the realisation that around 30 percent of people in Islington do not have adequate access to IT

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A joint initiative led by officers from the Met’s Central North Youth Engagement Unit has resulted in more than 300 laptops and tech items being donated to people without access to the internet during the lockdown period.

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the essential role of digital technology in keeping people connected. Driven by the realisation that around 30 percent of people in Islington do not have adequate access to IT, Sergeant Tony Quinn sought a way of supporting those most in need of technology within the borough.

The involvement of local charities including Brickworks Community Centre, Islington Giving, and Help On Your Doorstep allowed the team to quickly launch an appeal for unwanted technology, which was rolled out on social media in April. The campaign gained support from public figures in the local area who encouraged the public to donate.

To date, the appeal has raised over £20,000 for new laptops and other equipment. More than 100 second hand laptops have also been donated.

The equipment has been distributed amongst those without computers or tablets, thereby allowing families access to online educational material during the school closures. It has also provided invaluable support to those cut off socially, such as the elderly and those shielding.

Sergeant Tony Quinn, who first came up with the concept for the appeal, said: “At the beginning of the lockdown period, I spoke to partners and charities from the Islington area about ways that we could support people in our communities most affected by the COVID-19 restrictions.

“I had recently upgraded my home computer and had a PC sitting in a drawer unused – this is where the idea to rally together to issue an appeal for unused home technology donations came to life.

“Through the support of our partners and local charities, we were able to roll out the appeal very quickly – and we were amazed at the generosity of the public in fundraising and donating for this cause.

“It has enabled us to provide young people and families with access to vital technology at a time when they need it most. I’m incredibly proud to have been part of this project and hope that it showcases the often unseen work of the police in supporting our local communities.”

Colin Adams MBE, from Hanley Crouch Community Association who are based at the Brickworks Community Centre, said: “We are really grateful to Tony and his team for initiating this campaign. It has been amazing to be part of something that has provided so many of our local residents with a vital technology lifeline during this challenging time. It just goes to show what working as part of a partnership can achieve.”

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