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Free laptops available as part of device lending scheme pilot

A new initiative offering elderly residents the chance to borrow a laptop for free has been launched as a way of tackling digital inequality in Barking and Dagenham.

Eligible applicants will be able to make use of a Chromebook laptop for up to six weeks at a time without paying a penny – and could even benefit from free data to access the internet.

The scheme is open to anyone over the age of 65, who doesn’t have access to their own laptop or smartphone and is a member of the borough’s libraries.

The three-month pilot is part of Barking and Dagenham Council’s wider work to tackle digital exclusion by improving access to online services for everyone living in the borough.

Other schemes include free mobile data, calls, and messages for people on low incomes, as well as the roll-out of free unlimited wi-fi being provided in libraries across the borough, and the creation of digital champions, who are specially trained volunteers that can help answer any internet related query.

Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, said: “We want to ensure all our residents can access the benefits of being online - from the social aspects through to the exclusive internet-only discounts and deals that are now part of everyday life.

“As the world gets more digital, we need to help make sure nobody is left behind, which is why it’s important we offer schemes such as free laptops, free internet access, or free training to our residents.” 

The laptops can be borrowed from Barking Learning Centre. To apply and for more information call 020 8724 8722 or 0208 724 8725, speak to a staff member at the Barking Learning Centre, or email

To find out more about the council’s Digital at Barking and Dagenham schemes, visit