Plymouth-based social collective Street Factory is delighted to have received funding from Devon Community Foundation which the team will use to keep members of its community digitally connected in this time of social distancing.
Digital kit and skills
The funding/grant of £7,300 has already been used directly to purchase laptops, iPads, tutorials and mentoring on digital skills, all of which will be donated and provided to individuals within the Street Factory’s ‘extended family’ who currently cannot engage with the company’s online sessions, conduct their vital home education or generally connect with the outside world and family because of not owning a suitable digital device
During these unprecedented times, the husband and wife team, creators of the UK’s first Hip Hop theatre, has been continuing to reach out with its well-known positive vibe, continuing to stay connected, providing elemental wellbeing support, mentoring, dance and fitness classes and encouraging entertainment – all from their own home. This swift re-organisation and innovation has been featured on the GOV.UK website as an example of excellence for its reaction to the lockdown and support of its community.
Co-founder of Street Factory, Jo Gorniak told ArtsCulture: “For some, social distancing has meant no social at all. We’ve been using all sorts of technology to stay connected with people and to enhance our reach, but those without it and those who don’t know how to use it, have felt even more isolated. That’s not good for them or for our communities.
“Knowing how much we are relying on our technology to keep our services going, we wanted to help others and so we applied for the grant from Devon Community Foundation so we could get these people laptops or tablets and keep them connected. We’re so grateful that we were successful in this bid. We want to ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to feel connected, to access digital culture and reduce their feelings of isolation.”
Excited to collect these four vital laptops from Plymouth-based Electrotek Solutions Ltd, Jo and Toby Gorniak were even more delighted to discover that the Electrotek team donated a further eight laptops all with the most up-to-date software installed.
The team at Electrotek Solutions Ltd said: “Toby and Jo have been an inspiration not just to us but to the city of Plymouth. They are a perfect example of what community spirit and a passion to create change for the next generation looks like. Over the last few years we’ve committed to support them and their projects by donating PCs, laptops, printers, projectors and more for their studios.
“However, the current crisis has shone a spotlight on a new problem. The most vulnerable in society, the people they support, were suddenly cut off and isolated, both physically and technologically. Toby and Jo spotted the need and made the call to us.”
The Electrotek Solutions Ltd team continued: “Members of the public and our clients had donated their unused equipment to us, to refurbish and donate back to the community. So when Toby and Jo came in, they thought they were collecting four laptops but we added a large quantity of laptops, webcams and tablets, plus more to come once they’ve been through the refurbishment process. Our support for Street Factory will be ongoing and we hope that together we can get the right technology to those that need it most in our community.”
Toby Gorniak MBE, co-founder of Street Factory added: ‘It’s amazing to see how much Plymouth is pulling together and reaching out during this time of crisis.
“We’ve now got our very own Tech Tyler who is part of our Creating Change programme using his new skills to refurbish other bits of equipment. It backs up our faith in the ripple effect, showing kindness and belief in people means that they can also be empowered to give back.
“This isn’t a loan, it’s an investment in those that needed it months ago and will need it beyond social distancing. It’s for people making new starts, staying connected and for lifelong learning.”
Street Factory thrives today through a mix of grant funding from Arts Council England (ACE), the National Lottery, the People’s Health Trust and the Rank Foundation, all geared up to deliver sustainable and accountable outcomes. Street Factory creates real and powerful change that empowers and enables people of all ages the opportunity to unlock the potential that sits within them, despite facing a range of social and economic challenges.
Some of the issues and challenges facing the Street Factory community include bullying, mental health issues of all kinds, low aspiration, racism, poverty, ageism, special and additional needs, homelessness, unemployment and lack of immediate opportunities. The Street Factory service therefore supports a major number of people through these personal journeys on a day-to-day basis, making the COVID lockdown all the more serious for a number of these vulnerable community members.
Over the next week, Toby and Jo will be safely distance-delivering the laptops and starting to get people that need it trained up in this technology.
They would like to be able to help even more members of their community so if you have equipment you are no longer using and would be happy to donate then please contact them to arrange collection on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pop over to see Street Factory on Facebook