CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Pandemic has deepened the digital divide

It’s been one of those weeks as an MP that just flies by as I work representing Eastbourne in Westminster and then, in what seems like a flash, I am back here in the constituency.

Westminster first and it was good to raise a number of important questions, including asking the Prime Minister what could be done to really localise Covid-19 restrictions and for extra support for our vitally important hospitality and tourism industries.

I had the opportunity to publicly pay tribute to Eastbourne’s RNLI crew in a debate and I thanked them for their courage in saving lives since the station was formed nearly 200 years ago and what an incredibly challenging role they have.

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I also spoke in Foreign Office questions about the Middle East and about my renewed hopes for that region now there have been peace agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Closer to home and back in Eastbourne, we have had more great news about government support for our town in the shape of £412,000 in funding for our cultural centres. They have been hard hit and these are lifelines funds.

The Royal Hippodrome Theatre has received £188,744 from the Cultural Recovery Fund with the Printers Playhouse getting £83,672 and the now award-winning Towner Art Gallery a further £140,500.

I have spoken with the successful recipients this week and I will continue to support them, and the wider sector, in the months ahead.

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These important local settings bring people together which cannot be equalled but can be differently achieved online. The digital divide is something that is really concerning me in Eastbourne and it has accelerated since the pandemic with shielding, lockdown and social distancing. The disadvantages – on every level, financial and social to name but two – are only deepening.

To help, I have joined forces with the wonderful Tubbs Computer Supplies, who are doing an incredible job supplying refurbished computers to low income families and older people.

On November 7 I will be going around Eastbourne and Willingdon picking up disused IT kit so it can be repurposed by Tubbs as part of the Get Your Kit Out campaign. This could support children in their learning, give a window on the world for older people and indeed everyone in between who needs it.

To donate simply text 07872579328 or email [email protected] or go to Facebook

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All hard drives are wiped or removed, so there are no security or privacy issues.

The country has now moved into its three-tier system this week to tackle the spread of Coronavirus.

Here in Eastbourne we are at medium – the lowest level. I would like to thank everyone in our town and East Sussex, the NHS, the local resilience forum, the police and social care providers and our schools and businesses for all they have done to keep the infection rate low and everyone playing their part is how we’ll come through this.

Take care and keep in touch.