Project that aims to break down digital barriers in Portsmouth given a boost

PEOPLE without access to the internet or computer equipment have been given a helping hand by a digital infrastructure provider.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 12:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 12:16 pm
CityFibre workers

CityFibre, which is installing a full fibre network across Portsmouth, has partnered with independent charity Hive Portsmouth.

The charity is working with several voluntary and community organisations across the city to remove digital exclusion.

Throughout the pandemic, local organisations have found that lack of equipment, low confidence in using computers and the costs associated with digital technology have created barriers for people who would ordinarily have accessed services face-to-face.

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Reverend Canon Bob White of St Mary’s Church, Portsea, picture by Simon Czapp/Solent News & Photo Agency

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The hope is that a bank of loan equipment and learning resources can eventually be created that can be loaned from community groups to users when needed.

Reverend Canon Bob White, chair of HIVE Trustees, said: ‘Our aim is to nurture strengths, independence and self-reliance among individuals, families and communities with the aim of building a happier, healthier and more connected city.

‘We are grateful to all our sponsors who have helped to increase the availability of digital equipment, and this added support from CityFibre will help to address the important issue of connectivity, which is a barrier for many.'

CityFibre’s sponsorship will help fund prepaid data sims to be distributed with laptops and tablets.

The sims will enable service users to get online and benefit from a wide range of opportunities - from job hunting and e-learning, to online banking and utilities - even if they don’t have a home broadband connection.

Lucy Cooper, city manager for Portsmouth at CityFibre, said: ‘CityFibre is currently investing £32m in transforming Portsmouth into one of the world’s most digitally connected areas as part of our nationwide Gigabit City Investment Programme.

‘This will increase local access to next generation full fibre infrastructure and, at the heart of this city-wide rollout is digital inclusion.

‘This is why we are so supportive of the work that Hive Portsmouth is developing to unlock digital access and support skills development within the community.

‘Throughout the pandemic, we have seen just how critical technology is to our day-to-day lives.

‘It has not only enabled us to keep working and stay connected with friends and family, but it has enabled services to pivot and find new ways to provide key services.

‘Everyone should have the confidence and ability to harness the capabilities of the connected world.’

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