2020 was a tough year for us all. TechResort’s usual work of helping young people explore and enjoy making and coding came to an abrupt halt. While this made us extremely sad, we knew it was necessary. We were also well aware that many people locally were lacking basic digital skills, and the lockdowns started to highlight this in a whole new way.
Always resourceful, the entire TechResort team pulled together in a variety of projects to help our community as best as we could.
Many students and adults suddenly needed to work from home, and didn’t have access to computers. We decided early in lockdown 1 to loan our entire fleet of laptops to anyone that needed them (many ended up keeping theirs). Then our great friends at Zoonou said they had some old laptops in a cabinet and offered to give them to us, so we loaned or donated those too.
When the full extent of the local shortage in Personal Protective Equipment became clear, we decided to use some of our financial reserves to establish a 3D printer farm. Over several months we printed and distributed nearly 2000 face shields to care homes, GP practices and other frontline workers.
One of the few silver linings of 2020 was the increased availability of grants to help people cope with the digital divide. Thanks to a couple of funding wins, we were able to help a lot of local individuals and organisations.
As part of our Digital Do Tank project, we helped adults learn new skills, and loaned equipment like cameras and laptops to self-employed people to “try before they buy”.
We coached people on a 1:1 basis to build their digital confidence, and developed a “socially distanced workstation” which has been very handy! We bought mobile broadband access for a couple of local care organisations to help their clients dip their toes in to using the internet for the first time.
In July, we launched One Eastbourne to help hard pressed local retailers sell online. Amazon has made millions during the lockdowns, and we wanted to launch a local version with one basket, one checkout and free delivery to Eastbourne postcodes. We managed to keep our commission really low, so more money goes back to local retailers and stays in town. There are four retailers signed up so far, and we’ve made it easy for others to join.
In August, we teamed up with Leeds and Croydon councils to help design and deploy Digitalinclusionkit.org to help more people set up digital inclusion activities and help others improve their skills. The site went live in November, and we’re still adding tips to it. Pop over and tell us what you think.
As soon as we possibly could after lockdown ended, we restarted support for EU citizens in our community who need to apply for Settled Status. We needed to change the format, but still carried out 1:1, face to face support and reassurance.
Towards the end of the year, we started to build a virtual exhibition for an arts projects for a group of local young people whose work was supposed to form a travelling exhibition for schools.
Everything we’ve achieved this year has been about helping our community to be as resilient as possible in the face of difficulties.
Thanks to so many people!
We’ve been supported by DCMS, MHCLG, National Lottery, Sussex Community Foundation, East Sussex College Group, Sussex Police, Leeds City Council, Croydon Borough Council, Zoonou, Seaside Community Hub, The Enterprise Centre, Born Store, to the rise bakery, Flowers of Eastbourne, Aurelie & Rose and many individuals donating their time, their under-used equipment and their skills.
Most of all we’ve been bowled over by the compassion, skill and resourcefulness of our wonderful band of Elves who’ve so frequently put others’ needs before theirs.
We’re hopeful that 2021 will be better than last year. Already it seems that the impacts of the digital divide are better recognised, so that makes our work easier.
TechResort will keep on understanding digital skills needs, and doing the best we can to help. Whatever your situation, we wish you a happy, healthy and productive 2021.