Trafford council says it is working hard to bridge the digital divide and help those who are struggling to get online and has donated Samsung tablets to the Hideaway hub for its new Hope Community Café.
Visitors to The Hideaway will now be able to use the devices for free to check their emails, search for jobs or browse the web, all while enjoying a hot cup of tea.
The first batch of tablets arrived this week and it is hoped that more devices and digital support sessions will follow in the coming months, helping local residents to access online services.
The Hideaway is open to all and is part of a charity which hosts several other projects supporting families and local residents, including the Hope Centre – one of Trafford’s Community Support hubs and local foodbank.
It hosts a community food pantry and provides energy, information, children’s clothing and much more for local people in need.
To help keep residents connected in an ever-increasingly digital world, they also offer low-income residents free SIM cards loaded with data, calls and texts for six months at a time, provided by the Good Things Foundation.
All Trafford library staff are trained ‘digital champions’ and can offer digital support to residents who need a helping hand. In February 2021, Trafford Libraries launched their laptop loan scheme, enabling residents who do not have their own device to get online and access digital services.
Currently, the scheme offers laptops and WiFi routers to residents for a loan period of three weeks. The scheme is available to all Trafford residents aged over 16 and is completely free, the only requirement is to be a Trafford Libraries member, which is a simple process and can be done at the same time as reserving a laptop.
Hideaway founder and manager Ruth Lancey said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer this additional service to local residents in our new community cafe. So many services are online now and this opens up a new space for local people to access digital services and get help if they need it. Children are welcome to use them for homework after school too while enjoying tea in the cafe.”
Coun Jo Harding, Trafford council’s executive member for culture, leisure and strategic partnerships, said: “Trafford Council is committed to providing digital support to all residents and I am delighted that we have been able to hand over these tablets to the community café. It is very important that everyone has access to the web and the internet and we are happy to be helping those who do not.
“There is a common misconception that everyone has access to a computer, laptop or tablet but, unfortunately, that simply isn’t the case.”