First Wessex Housing is working with local partners in Hampshire to address the digital divide by giving people low cost computers to buy, free in-store internet access, and providing job seekers with work experience and volunteering opportunities.
The Aldershot-based TechStart project, supported by Rushmoor Borough Council, Rushmoor Schools Plus, Job Centre Plus and Future World of Work has also opened a shop in Aldershot.
Peter Moyle, leader of Rushmoor Borough Council, said, “For residents who might be job hunting, trying to manage their benefits or wanting to access lower cost deals on the internet, computers have become essential. But we know that many people in our community still don’t have easy access to a computer or lack the basic online skills to use one. This is where TechStart can help, and I’m really proud of the council’s involvement.”
The store, which has a suite of 16 computers for use as well as free wi-fi access, helps people to own their own computer, particularly those in financial hardship, by recycling computers that have been donated by local companies and educational establishments, and selling them at much lower costs than on the high street.
Peter Walters, chief executive, First Wessex Housing, said, “Designed to help address digital exclusion among our residents and in the wider community, TechStart also supports our employment and training programme by providing work experience and volunteering opportunities, vital for people with no work history or experience.”