Finalist category: Community Impact Award
Community Impact Award, Winner, 2020
Power To Connect was set up in April 2020 as a direct response to the COVID19 Pandemic. Together, Wandsworth Council and Battersea Power Station launched the Power To Connect initiative. Schools and Community Organisations in Wandsworth requested support with access to data and devices to help families stay connected and engage in homeschooling during the lockdown. With a two-pronged approach, the project tackles digital poverty by distributing data vouchers and laptops or tablets.
Initially, Battersea Power Station Foundation made a donation of £10,000 towards £10 data top-up vouchers for families on Pay As You Go mobile phones and data dongles. The donation was made to the Council’s school meal voucher app as the team identified most of the families struggling with access to data were also recipients of free school meals.
Power To Connect then encouraged donations of old, working laptops and tablets from local residents and businesses. To date, Power To Connect has collected over 330 devices from local members of the community, refurbished them as Google Chromebooks and donated them to 36 local schools and community organisations. Once delivered, schools identify who the vulnerable families are who would benefit most from a laptop. Devices are for families to keep.
Local volunteers are recruited via social media and through local community partners. Volunteers provide IT specialism in repurposing the donated computers, cleaning and checking devices; delivering and collecting devices from the donors from across London, and delivering updated devices across Wandsworth.
As the lockdown restrictions begin to ease, Power To Connect is committed to continuing its work. The team is busy forming partnerships with local and corporate businesses to encourage them to sign up to its Business Pledge to donate devices safely and sustainably, so Power To Connect can redistribute them to communities that need them most.