Connectivity #MadeInSandwell: iLockerz pledges its support to combat digital inequality

This #MadeInSandwell Monday we’re focusing on a local manufacturer of intelligent locker systems which has pledged its support to an initiative aiming to provide thousands of laptops and connectivity to families across the region.

Based in Rowley Regis, iLockerz Ltd produces a range of intelligent locker systems for many industries and applications, providing solutions to the storage, tracking and asset management needs of organisations, including schools, colleges and universities.

The initiative, called Connect_In, was launched by community interest company Wowdot CIC to help bridge the gap of device availability amongst society’s poorer families and combat digital inequality across the West Midlands.

Part of the Wow Group of Companies, Wowdot has partnered with a consortium of Midlands-based organisations and is calling on other local businesses to help achieve its goal of providing devices to children and families in need of a laptop, tablet or desktop computer to aid their education. This need has obviously risen recently due to lockdown restrictions and home schooling.

In March 2020, 34 per cent of the UK population suffered a loss of connectivity and whilst the Department for Education announced a £400m laptop roll-out scheme the following month, recent surveys indicate that the 876,013 devices delivered so far has still left up to 1.8 million children without access to a laptop, desktop or tablet.

The move by Sandwell firm iLockerz to back Wowdot’s campaign arose as managing director Ryan Slaney realised a common goal between the companies, which both seek to make digital devices more accessible.

Ryan said: “iLockerz has always aimed to make it easier for people to access the tech that allows them to carry out their duties effectively. This is perhaps why our relationships with education providers have grown over recent years.

“However, whilst our lockers have played a part in schools, colleges and universities being able to loan laptops to students, it has become clear that much more needs to be done to ensure widespread availability of devices – particularly in the poorer parts of our region.

“When I learned about the Connect_In campaign from Wowdot, I was keen to get involved and offer the full backing of iLockerz. We are therefore urging all our customers to donate any PCs or laptops they no longer need so they can benefit those in education who desperately need the technology.”

Cas Majid, CEO of the Wow Group of Companies and founder of Wowdot CIC, commented: “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the lack of connectivity across the UK and, whilst home-schooling may not be a permanent arrangement, learning through the use of technology will continue long after children return to school.

“We must all pull together to ensure that no child is being deprived of an opportunity to fulfil their potential, and with the help of businesses like iLockerz, we will help families who can’t afford electronic devices to secure a brighter future.”

Ryan Slaney believes that eradicating digital poverty should be a priority for everyone and that the time to act is now to ensure that children have access to the tools necessary for their educational development.

He is urging businesses and individuals to help tackle the digital divide by donating unwanted PCs and laptops. Devices can be dropped off at iLockerz, Station Road Industrial Estate, Rowley Regis, directly at the Wowdot office in Edgbaston or at Millennium Point in Birmingham.

Data will be wiped from all donated items, with official certificates issued by REPC Ltd – an established computer re-purposing company and Wowdot partner – before being distributed to schools across the Midlands.

Monetary contributions can also be made via the campaign’s dedicated Gofundme page, with all funds going towards the provision of 12 months internet connection and a reconditioned PC or laptop.

iLockerz is leading by example, having donated £1,500 to the campaign’s fundraiser. This amount will see five families across the region receive a fully cleansed device and a MiFi unit from Intercity Technology, providing them with internet connection for 12 months.

#MadeInSandwell Monday is a celebration of the talent and diversity within our borough. If you’re interested in being considered for a #MadeInSandwell Monday profile and having information about your organisation shared on Think Sandwell and through Twitter, read this.

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