WV Online Lending will see an initial 50 digital devices made available for three-month loans from organisations such as employment and training providers Access to Business, TLC, YMCA and Wolves at Work, plus the Refugee and Migrant Centre, with all offering additional support.
Devices will also be provided to carers and vulnerable adults as part of the pilot. The pilot will focus on helping people get online to access learning, employment support, services and reduce isolation.
The first 50 residents to benefit have already been identified by partners and anyone else interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact any of the partners directly.
Following learning from the pilot, there is a plan to scale up the initiative by involving additional partners and growing the number of devices available to residents across the city.
City of Wolverhampton Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor Louise Miles, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital connectivity, however those without digital access or skills are being left behind.
“The City of Wolverhampton is committed to digital inclusion. It is fundamental, not a ‘nice to have’, and vital to ‘levelling up’ – that is why we have ensured that digital is an integral part of our Relighting Our City recovery commitment.
“Digital is the primary means of connection and access to essential services and digital skills are crucial for economic resilience and growth, providing a gateway to jobs, progression, social inclusion and cohesion.
“This scheme is just one initiative as part of our wider work on being a fully digitally inclusive city.”
Access to Business CEO, Josie Kelly, added: “We are thrilled to be involved with the lending scheme. We already have so many people wanting to benefit from it.
“The scheme will allow them to engage with our free online learning courses and health and wellbeing sessions.
“This project really will help to tackle social isolation and digital exclusion in our city.”
Wolverhampton’s Councillor Digital Innovation Champion, Councillor Beverley Momenabadi, said: “My role as Digital Innovation Champion is to support the rollout of future-proofed infrastructure and innovation.
“It is crucial all residents can benefit by ensuring they have the devices and connectivity to get online and improve their life chances.
“We fully recognise how critical and life-changing connectivity can be.”