Erith residents celebrate IT equipment donation | Wates

Wates Residential and Orbit deliver a boost to digital inclusion for residents of Erith Park

Erith residents are set to benefit from a donation of IT equipment from national developer, Wates Residential and housing association, Orbit in a move to ensure digital access for members of the community.

Rosie McGuirk, Site Manager for Wates Residential and Rosie Ward, Associate Placemaking and Partnership Manager from Orbit presented Yeukia Taruvinga from the Active Horizons community space with £1,400 of IT equipment, including three new laptops and a tablet device which will be made available for use by the whole community within the Erith Park ‘Active Horizons’ community space.

Active Horizons is a youth-led charitable organisation set up to foster leadership, as well as promote the voice and engagement of black and minority ethnic young people in London Borough of Bexley.

The donation comes as the coronavirus  pandemic continues to highlight the effects of digital exclusion on some of the most disadvantaged groups in the UK.

Lack of access to a suitable computer or internet connectivity within the home during lockdown has created significant barriers to online learning for school children, while the closure of some key services such as building societies created a digital divide for those families without access to internet banking to help secure funds.

The IT equipment donated by Wates Residential and Orbit will offer vital support for individuals who are currently experiencing digital exclusion as services and access to information continue to move towards a ‘digital by default’ model.

Residents will also be encouraged to use the new equipment to improve their IT and employability skills, join the online job market, access online study resources and reconnect with friends, family and wider networks to help prevent social isolation.

Wates Residential and Orbit celebrated the completion of the Erith Park regeneration in September 2019. This saw the transformation of seven dated tower blocks on the former Larner Road estate into a new award-winning mixed tenure community of 587 new homes.

The partners have now embarked on the regeneration of the neighbouring Park East site where they will deliver 320 new homes, of which 80 per cent will for affordable rent and shared ownership to ensure a mixed, aspirational and sustainable community for local residents.

This donation of IT equipment forms part of Wates Residential and Orbit’s ambition to deliver a borough-wide legacy as part of their presence in the borough. This includes a commitment to boost the local economy by entering into contracts valued at c.£10,000,000 with local small and medium-sized businesses.

Wates Residential and Orbit have also pledged to hire more than 30 apprentices, offer dozens of work experience placements, and hire local people for full time employment. The partners are also committed to holding Construction Careers, Advice & Guidance (CIAG) events, including site visits for students to enrich their classroom learning.

Glen Roberts, Operations Director of Wates Residential, said:

“We are delighted to have been able to support the residents of Erith Park with this donation and, in particular, to be able to make a genuine difference to those local families who are currently struggling to access the resources and services that many of us take for granted.

“We believe that everyone deserves a great place to live and that includes ensuring that all members of the local community have the opportunity to participate fully in society and reach their full potential.”

Eric Hodges Senior Placemaking and Partnerships Manager at Orbit, said:

“We’re pleased to support the local community at Erith Park as well as the work of Active Horizons. Young people involved with Active Horizons are able to take part in a range of activities from leadership and career development, to creative arts and before and after school clubs.

“This donation will help the young people involved overcome barriers and build a bridge to independence by connecting them to the world around them. It will also help Orbit to develop a new young entrepreneur programme where we will provide mentors to those young people who wish to create and grow their own businesses.”

Yeukia Taruvinga, Director of Active Horizons, said:

“We are delighted to have received this wonderful donation of IT equipment. It will make an unmeasurable difference to so many residents in Erith including helping individuals to develop digital and employability skills, supporting job searches and enabling the delivery of coding classes for young people. In addition, we are keen to provide support to socially isolated individuals who want to learn how to reach their friends and family through digital mediums. Thank you to Wates Residential and Orbit for their continued investment in the Erith and Bexley communities.”

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