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Beringen alderman Tijs Lemmens: “Our local connection and previous successful cooperation makes them an excellent partner.”

Beringen Is donating 87 of its own desktops to provide its residents with digital infrastructure. The Covid-19 crisis revealed that many children, young people and adults have no access to a PC or laptop. The town is working with the Beringen firm Out of Use. They will refurbish and fully equip the hardware.

The initiative had been in the pipeline for a long time and the Covid crisis has accelerated these plans. The town thus aims to provide its residents with something that is increasingly considered a basic human need. "Without digital infrastructure, it is difficult to engage in society," observes Mayor Thomas Vints, who has made combating poverty the focal point of his policy. “More and more important aspects of our lives are happening online: attending classes, applying for jobs, meeting each other – but also asking for help with your problems in an easily accessible way. As a local authority, we decided to address some of the most pressing needs by repurposing some of our own older desktops for this purpose.”

“The Beringen authorities are currently switching to the use of mobile devices. So we have a number of old desktops that are no longer in use. So it's a great idea to give these machines a second life," says ICT alderman Tijs Lemmens.

For this initiative, Beringen is working with Out of Use, which had already refurbished 30 collected laptops free of charge for Beringen residents during the first wave. It's not just the local connection and previous successful cooperation that make them an outstanding partner: the company has built up an international reputation over the years, is a recognised partner of Recupel and was the first player in Belgium to obtain WEEELABEX accreditation partner status (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Label of Excellence). Sustainability is high on the agenda.

"Afterwards, the administration and its partners will look at how the distribution will take place," explains alderman Hilal Yalçin. “The OCMW/CPAS and social services are regularly alerted to the areas of greatest need. Together with them, we ensure that the equipment reaches the right families.”

The town has made about 10,000 euros available for this work, part of the amount mobilised by the Flemish Government to give local governments more leeway to fight poverty due to the pandemic.

(Source: Stad Beringen 14-09-2020)

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