After the Covid-19 lockdown started Catbytes launched our Virtual Aid project. This was a continuation of our Techy Tea clubs, with the difference that the support we gave was over the phone rather than face to face. While we were running this project we received an increasing number of requests for devices, such as tablets, smartphones or computers. More local community organisations such as Age UK and Community Connections were calling on us to support clients with digital problems, and this included people who were isolated with no device to use to communicate with the outside world. We started lending out laptops and smartphones that we had in our collection.
At the same time, Lewisham Homes got in touch, asking us if we could support families whose children were unable to do homework due to having no computer to work with. We decided to scale up our operation. We did a shout out for devices from the public. Lots of people have laptops and desktop computers that they don't want to recycle. We had support with this from Lewisham Homes, the 2000 Community Action Centre, and Masks for Extraordinary People.
Within a short space of time we were inundated with devices. We have received fantastic help from volunteers in getting them get to a state where they are fit to be distributed. We are calling on volunteers to help us deliver them to people that have requested them. The Device Library is a website which keeps track of what has come to us, and whether it is available. In the future it will be possible for people to register on it and reserve items. Currently this process is being managed by us, as we are still dependent on referrals.