Major funding boost for Oxfordshire technology project

The new grant will provide more than 1,500 devices for people at risk of digital exclusion and improve internet access for job hunters and school children.

black and silver iphone 6

The charity SOFEA was set up during the pandemic as a service to refurbish phones, tablets and other equipment, increasing access for people who would otherwise not be able to afford them while also reducing electronic waste. 

Thanks to new funding from Virgin Media O2 and the charity Hubbub, the organisation will now be able to significantly expand on is provision. In total, £100,000 has been awarded, which should cover the cost of refurbishing around 1,500 devices. 

‘Our project provides free devices for the most in need in our community and we’re dependent on funders like this to continue our vital work,’ said Ben Tuppen, SOFEA project manager. ‘This grant has helped secure our service for the next year, aiming to refurbish more than 1,500 devices and provide them to people across our community.

‘There is an abundance of smart devices in households and businesses that have a potential to help the estimated 1.5 million households digitally disconnected get online,’ he continued. ‘These projects will tackle digital exclusion through research, training and the redistribution of devices and continue to raise awareness about the issues of e-waste and digital inclusion.’

Tools for internet access, allowing users to find work and complete schoolwork, will also be provided by the organisation, helping tackle the ‘digital divide’. SOFEA was one of eight recipients of funding from Virgin Media O2 and Hubbub, with a total of 120 applicants looking for financial support. Other successful bids came from The Making Rooms, a Blackburn ‘laboratory of small-scale digital manufacturing machinery’ open for anyone to develop their own artwork, designs and products.


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