Reducing Digital Poverty for Social Housing Tenants In The North
After Middlesbrough Council began an initiative to reduce digital poverty among its residents, Housing Industry Leaders looks at how this will improves the lives of social housing residents across the North.

Its library service has teamed up with the FurbidIT partnership, which collects and refurbishes unwanted devices and IT equipment.

Residents, organisations and businesses can drop off unwanted equipment at Middlesbrough Central Library, local libraries and community hubs for it to be cleaned, repaired, refurbished or scrapped in line with Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations, then distributed to people in need.

This takes place through a network that currently involves 35 distribution partners. The council said the total number of donations is already nearing 1,000.

Reducing digital poverty for social housing residents at the core of levelling up

Projects like this are essential to reduce the digital divide, especially for young people in social housing. Education is one of the most vital steps of social mobility, and boosting technology support for working-class communities in the North goes a long way to helping this.

The FurbdIT initiative is an innovative local solution to bridging the gap, and one that will make a real difference to many people’s lives

The second-hand benefit of this is reducing the billions of tonnes of electronic waste that the world produces each year.

A multi-business approach future-proofs the digital poverty initiative

FurbidIT includes businesses, statutory agencies, housing, academic institutions, charities, and voluntary and community groups and is working with collection and recycling company Comply IT on the initiative.

Cllr Stephen Hill, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for culture and communities, said: “Access to modern, working IT equipment has never been more important, but sadly digital poverty is all too real. That puts people in need at a real disadvantage, whether it be competing for jobs or just keeping in touch with loved ones.