Generous donations of IT equipment in Stoke-on-Trent have been provided for a local community group working with refugees in Burslem.

Laptops VAST acquired through the Donate IT scheme weekly support sessions for families across the city who are currently seeking asylum and trying to build a new life in Stoke-on-Trent.

Burslem Jubilee Group (BJG) has been delivering support, companionship, and activities to refugees and asylum seekers settling in the area since 2014. The volunteer-led organisation provides support in a number of ways including research, information and advice, safe spaces for people to come together and meet others, and integration activities like football, day trips, arts and pottery, and cooking.

The donated devices mean that people who are beginning their new life in Stoke-on-Trent can get one-to-one help with online services, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses, and asylum applications. They will also provide activities for children while they are waiting for school placements.

After meeting with VAST, it was clear that the groups need was obvious – to continue to deliver this support, they needed some tech. BJG’s sessions are held in a space used by several groups in the area; laptops were the best option. Easily set-up, easy to use, and easily stored. Their application was submitted to the Community Foundation for Staffordshire and was approved. The donated devices were reset, and all previous data removed by Donate IT partner Lila Connect before being issued to BJG.

This donation of equipment has been very well received by the group, as well as the asylum seekers and refugees the group supports, and their children.

“We’re very happy with the donation,” said Sheila Podmore, Chair of Trustees for Burslem Jubilee Group, “it’s really helped people to progress with their lives— processing their applications, ESOL language courses, and general service enquiries, like health services and local information.”

VAST’s Project Support Officer Deborah Nicklin, who works with voluntary and community groups in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire said:

“This was an off-the-cuff referral that happened in the Dudson Centre café through the VAST Volunteering team who referred them to the VAST Bursary Fund. Sheila then spoke to the Digital team about website services, who suggested that they would benefit from the Donate IT scheme.”

It’s great to see that we can support groups holistically, referring them to other VAST services they will benefit from.”

Burslem Jubilee Group is just one example of the vital services being delivered to local communities across the city and being able to apply for equipment and devices makes a real difference to the way that support can be provided and supported.

To find out more about Donate IT, please click here.