Burnaby PCN is seeking device or monetary donations to provide people in need with access to internet. Shutterstock

Burnaby Primary Care Network seeking device donations to help people get access to internet

Burnaby Primary Care Networks is hoping that the spirit of giving shines through this holiday season.

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December 6, 2021 | 5:00 am

It’s something many of us take for granted in 2021.

But for some families in Burnaby, access to the internet is a privilege that’s out of reach.

Burnaby Primary Care Networks is hoping that the spirit of giving shines through this holiday season, and is asking for donations to its fundraiser to provide devices with internet access to people who need them in the city.

Andrea Creamer, who’s the community engagement coordinator with Burnaby PCN, said the more prominent supports around internet access focus on people who have devices readily at hand.

“There might be digital literacy programs, teaching people to use a computer and make phone calls. But there are still a lot of people that don’t actually have a device that is readily available for them to use, or that possibly has something like a camera, and a microphone that works,” Creamer said.

When you don’t have access to your own device, everything from completing school assignments to applying for jobs is more of a struggle than it would be for others. Creamer said Burnaby Neighbourhood House also works with a lot of newcomers who need internet access to complete vital applications for citizenship or immigration—all of which are online.

Access to the internet has become even more of an issue during the pandemic, with many people working online from home. Last year, kids were attending school online as well. It’s also become critical for connecting with seniors in the community who have felt isolated over the past two years.

“[We heard about] families having one cell phone, with multiple children in school, and then a parent is also working. That’s not an appropriate amount of devices for a family to function in our current kind of mode—how we have this hybrid requirement to be online,” she said.

“Devices are expensive. If you have a fixed income, it’s really hard to justify spending [money on them], when there could be other other things such as food and toiletries that are going to come first … To make sure that folks in our community can go to school and work from home and keep in touch with folks that are feeling isolated, they need the devices to do so.”

Burnaby PCN has been accepting donations, both monetary and devices, for about 18 months now. But Creamer classifies the need for devices as “unending”—government supports often don’t cover the physical buying of new devices, even though they provide rebates and learning opportunities in other forms.

Devices can also get lost or stolen—they are physical objects, after all—or they could reach the end of their lifetime and stop working.

Creamer is hoping that with Christmas upon us, Burnaby residents looking for ways to give back will either donate their gently used devices—phones, laptops, or tablets—or make a monetary donation.

If you’ve got a device to give away, you can contact Creamer directly at acreamer@burnabydivision.ca.

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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