A new initiative to sell low cost computers is being launched. The idea came from First Wessex Housing Association and they are working with Rushmoor Borough Council, Rushmoor Schools Plus and Guildford Job Club to develop the idea and to secure funding for the setting up of the not-for-profit IT Social Enterprise.
The project will see desktops and laptops donated by local companies and educational establishments refurbished. They will then be sold for around £70 to people in the community who cannot afford to buy from the high street or an online retailer. Computers will be provided free of charge in some cases through a referral system to those who cannot afford to buy one. Internet access will not be routinely provided as part of the scheme although, in some hardship cases, free or low cost internet access may be given for a limited time.
Research shows that access to a computer and the internet can improve a child's educational performance. People will also be able to take advantage of online offers or the discounts that are available from paying bills online. The project also has environmental benefits as it prevents some of the thousands of computers that are thrown away every year from ending up in a landfill site.
Rushmoor Borough Council is currently seeking accommodation from which to run the project with it being hoped that the service will operate from an empty shop in Aldershot town centre. It is anticipated that the project will operate from early in the new year.
Helping people back into work is also an aim of the project. The initiative will provide opportunities for people to volunteer and gain on the job work experience and for apprentices to be recruited to help with the day-to-day running of the service.
Rushmoor Borough Council has provided a one-off contribution of £10,000 towards the setting up of the project and it is forecast that it will break even during its second year of operation.
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