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Suffolk Libraries and Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils joining forces with iPad scheme



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Suffolk Libraries and Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have joined forces to help residents get online with a new iPad lending scheme.

The 26 iPads, which all come with 4G internet connectivity and a range of pre-installed applications and web links, are available to borrow for free to anyone in the two districts from today.

They are based at libraries in Stowmarket, Hadleigh, Sudbury and Needham Market.

Stowmarket Library. Picture: Google.
Stowmarket Library. Picture: Google.

The pilot scheme, which will last for a year, has been made possible thanks to funding from the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, with additional support from the councils.

Anyone who wants to borrow an iPad, which come with internet inbuilt, will need a Suffolk Libraries account and will have to sign up to the user agreement. They can be borrowed for up to three weeks.

Bruce Leeke, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said they were delighted to be working with Babergh and Mid Suffolk on the project.

“It can be tough to get by if you’ve not got some way of connecting to the internet to perform tasks like job-seeking, applying for benefits or staying in touch with friends and family, particularly in rural areas," he said.

“We know people will need even more help after the pandemic and this is one example of how Suffolk Libraries can help by working with other organisations to develop innovative new services.”

The scheme forms part of the councils’ digital support programme over the coming year which will look at reducing digital isolation for many.

It also further builds on the iPad and laptop loaning services already available in several other Suffolk libraries.

Cllr Alastair McCraw, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for customers, digital transformation and improvement, said: "This project is another practical example of how we’re working in partnership with Suffolk Libraries to provide joined-up, innovative, value for money services for our residents.

"It also complements our existing joint services at Sudbury and Hadleigh Libraries, and at Shotley Village Hall, which will play an important role in our upcoming roll out of our digital support programme.

"We recognise there can be varying barriers for people getting online, and I hope this project is one of many ways we can support people to get online in a way that suits them, ensuring no one gets left behind."

Cllr Suzie Morley, Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet member for customers, digital transformation & improvement, added: "Working collaboratively with Suffolk Libraries, who already support many people across our county to get online, is a great way to ensure both our and our partners’ digital support is joined up.

“I would encourage anyone who is interested - including if you’re new to digital - to give it a try with comfort in the knowledge that support is available to help you on your digital journey.”

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