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About Catbytes


We started as a volunteer project

Catbytes is a Community Interest Company based in, and serving the borough of Lewisham. We grew out of a volunteer project which supported older people to develop basic digital skills. This project was called the Techy Tea club, and started in 2014 in the Point in Rushey Green. Catbytes was formed as a company in 2016.

We bring basic IT skills to the community

Our purpose is to support the local community with computer and internet related issues. Many people find the world of modern technology bewildering. We build a bridge between them and the digital world. We make people more skilled at, and comfortable with, using smart phones, tablets, computers and the internet

Digital buddying

Catbytes has run various projects designed to engage people with computers and the internet. We have volunteers called "buddies", who sit with people and support them in learning what they are interested in finding out about. Our two main activities are:

  • Digital drop-ins - social environments where people can learn more about how to use their devices.
  • Book A Buddy - Booked sessions of one on one support with using devices, requested by referring organisations on behalf of clients.

Digital Exclusion

Being alienated from the world of technology isn't just a matter of lacking skills. It can also be a result of not having the resources to afford equipment. There is very little public support for people who want a device to work with. But being online and having a device to work with is becoming essential for survival today.

Catbytes collects donations of equipment from the public, fixes them, and distributes them to people in need. The devices currently available can be seen in our Lewisham Device Library. They are lent out to people who are isolated or families with children that need them for homework

We take referrals 

Our techy tea clubs are drop ins, open to anyone. However, our Book a Buddy requests and device library requests are submitted by referrers who we have approved. Our current list of referrers includes SLAM, SELCE, Age UK, Lewisham Pensioners Forum, Lewisham Homes, The Diamond Club, Community Connections, OneHealth Lewisham, Modality Lewisham, Phoenix Community Housing, Grinling Gibbons School, Turnham Academy, Lucas Vale School, Lewisham Community Wellbeing, The Lewisham Falls Service, The Telegraph Hill Centre, The Lewisham Visual Impairment Team, The Lewisham Employment Support Service and Hatcham House. If you would like to become a referrer, please email info@catbytes.community.

 

 

We also support digital exclusion in local community organisations

It isn't just individuals who find themselves excluded from the digital sphere. There is a deficit of skills in local community organisations. Many small organisations lack the important skills needed to manage their business. These are skills which would be commonplace in modern commercial companies. Catbytes helps organisations with problems such as:

  • Setting up up a domain name,
  • building Websites
  • Hosting websites
  • Setting up and managing email
  • Setting up or troubleshooting internet/wifi
  • Setting up ICT suites
  • Helping clients and members communicate on Zoom
  • Supporting organisations getting cheap software, especially if they have charitable status

Among the organisations we have helped are 2000 Community Action Centre, Stanstead Lodge, The Lewisham Irish Community Centre, Lewisham Local, The Ackroyd Centre, the Honor Oak Community Centre, Beyond the Bank, Ewart Community Hall, the Lewisham Pensioners' Forum, The DIamond Club, The Lewisham Community Falls Service, Agents of Change, the Lewisham Wellbeing Map and Lewisham Homes. The websites we have created can be seen at https://affordable-web.design

Future Plans

We have recently started collaborating with the Restart Project, a nationwide volunteer organisation with expertise in fixing and recycling electrical equipment, including electronics. They have fixed many of the laptops that have been donated, enabling us to distribute more to our clients. We are hopeful that this partnership will grow, enabling Catbytes to be a bridge between the voluntary and government sectors in Lewisham and the techno-altruist community which tends not to be localist in its outlook. This objective also brings together the goals of benefiting the local community and recycling. This is a "win-win"!

Opportunities

There is a variety of ways you can volunteer with Catbytes. Please check out our opportunities page for more information.

 

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