There are families in Lewisham who don’t have access to a computer or laptop, and/or an internet connection. There are also people who are shielding, particularly older people, that need hardware or techy help. Catbytes CIC are trying to tackle this problem in the community – but they need your help. If you have old/unwanted devices, please consider donating them to Catbytes. You can get in touch with Damian for more information. Here is what your donations could help with.
Digital support for the community
Catbytes CIC are taking donations of old hardware and repurposing it for families in the community that lack access to laptops/computers/other such devices. ‘ The donations from the public are being put into a library of devices when they are ready. We will keep in touch with the people who we lend them to, and take them back once they have finished using them, so they can be lent out again to someone else. The library we are creating is a work in progress – you can have a look at it here.’
A Lewisham Homes and Catbytes CIC partnership
Catbytes have worked with Lewisham Homes on several projects in the past, including teaching internet skills to the elderly, WordPress to Tenants and Residents Associations, and IT support in a community centre. ‘I expect it was due to this relationship that they came to us to see if we could help with tackling the crisis of children not having a laptop or computer to do their homework with,’ says Damian of Catbytes CIC. ‘We were actually already refurbishing laptops for people who were isolated, and had delivered one to a family already. Lewisham Homes were able to increase awareness of what we were doing, and raise awareness of our appeal for laptops and tablets.’
Lewisham Homes also helped Catbytes with finding technically skilled volunteers who could make old devices usable for the recipients. The project is a collaboration, also involving Masks for Extraordinary People and the 2000 Community Action Centre. It is currently focussed on the North of the Borough.
This weekend we provided a laptop to an elderly isolating person with emphysema. The laptop we were given was an old XP machine. We installed the Operating System Linux on it, and made it look like Windows 10. One of our volunteers has gone round to show the lady how to set up a Sainsbury’s account.
Government food deliveries are ending soon, so she will need to become more independent in organising food delivery and we are helping her do this.
There are two main clients for the donated PCs, tablets and laptops. Families with children who need a device to do homework, and people who are isolated and need to communicate with the outside world and access to services. Because we have volunteers who help teach basic IT skills we are able to provide a comprehensive service. We have more unusual requests. A retired major who is disabled wanted to be able to produce presentations as part of his campaigning on the rights of wheelchair users. We found a desktop computer for him, and installed the graphics editor programme, Gimp, and the LibreOffice suite of tools, which are all free to use.
How can we help?
Donate: The community has been very generous in donating laptops, and this has kept us very busy: all laptops have their data wiped, and a new operating system installed. However, we are always ready for new donations!
Volunteer: We are looking for volunteers to help collect donations and bring them to our centre in Forest Hill, or deliver them to the clients. If you’re too busy for any of this, then just spreading the word is a huge help.
Or maybe you are technically skilled in repurposing hardware and interested in helping out?
Contact Damian if you are interested in volunteering or helping out one-off. This is an ongoing project and we will be thankful for the community’s help throughout! You will find the Catbytes website here.