A PIONEERING Scots charity collaboration is bidding to tackle digital poverty and social isolation amongst older generations with a partnership that benefits people and the planet.

Edinburgh-based ACE IT Scotland provides computer coaching for over-50s across the city, many of whom have struggled with increasing loneliness and isolation without easy access to digital devices through the pandemic and beyond.

The Edinburgh Remakery is an environmental social enterprise that tackles waste by providing ways for people and businesses to donate their second hand IT equipment for repair and refurbishment, and teaching repair and reuse skills through workshops and training initiatives.

They have come together to deliver free refurbished laptops into the hands of Edinburgh’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, giving them the means to stay connected whilst stopping reusable goods from going to waste.

Now, 50 second hand laptops are to be refurbished by technicians at the Edinburgh Remakery for distribution to ACE IT learners.

Elain Brown, the Edinburgh Remakery’s CEO, said she was delighted with their new partnership with ACE IT: “We know that with their help we are targeting people who will really benefit from receiving our free refurbished laptops, delivering the gift of connectivity.

“Through this partnership we can help people in our communities facing digital isolation and also help the planet by diverting laptops from landfill.”

The first gifted laptop was given to 78-year-old musician and composer Michael Egan, from Restalrig, earlier this month.

His career highlights include playing guitar in the Top of the Pops session orchestra in London, performing for Elton John and Shirley Bassey, and working with Engelbert Humperdinck. He said: “Technology has been a lifesaver for me during the pandemic – it’s saved me from going crazy.

“I’m going to use the laptop to make more music and write some good songs.”

Egan is now working on a CD to raise funds for the NHS, a project partially funded by the Port of Leith Housing Association where he lives.

Although restrictions are beginning to ease, digital exclusion remains a major barrier for many older people as healthcare services and information remain primarily online.

ACE IT will give every learner who receives a refurbished device tailored one-to-one coaching with their trained volunteers. It saw a dramatic increase in the need for digital support services during the pandemic as significant and essential services were moved online.

The charity’s manager, Iain Couper, said: “At ACE IT Scotland we are determined to tackle digital exclusion amongst older people in Edinburgh.

“We have seen a rise in demand for our coaching services over the past 18 months where the inability to get online has disadvantaged many older people around the city like never before.

“Now we are thrilled to be partnering with the Edinburgh Remakery to provide support and guidance to use free laptop PCs to our learners to help more people get connected.

“These refurbished devices will have a real practical impact and will help us to further reduce the digital divide and alleviate social isolation.”