Open Collective logo
Open Collective
🌈So long 2020 - the end of London Rainbow
Published on December 23, 2020 by Jonathan

Hello London Rainbow supporters:

What a year. Today yet another press conference introduces restrictions on people’s ability to contact one another. A horrible end to a horrible year. 

London Rainbow has supported dozens of organisations and helped hundreds of Londoners isolated by Covid-19 to connect with loved ones and key support services via phones and tablets. The work isn’t done - millions are increasingly isolated - but our role of crisis response is for the history books. 

Over the summer and autumn, we found that our devices were being used less and less as restrictions on visiting eased. We also joined forces with other charitable initiatives that had been set up in response to Covid: like Community Calling and Phones for Patients. These organisations are more securely staffed and funded to respond to need in 2021. Community Calling can in fact accept any unused devices you may have.

I am proud we were able to make a difference to people who became horribly isolated by Covid-19. By bringing together old devices, volunteer ingenuity and small financial donations to cover mobile connection costs, we bought human connection back digitally for people in hospital wards, care homes and hospices across London. Some of our devices were even used in trials of new treatments for recovering Covid patients. We heard uplifting stories of people getting online for the first time with donated tablets, and heartbreaking reports of those we’ve lost saying their final goodbyes from London Rainbow phones.

In total, our operation received over 200 device donations, and placed 92 into the hands of health workers and care workers at the front line of supporting our communities. We were able to redeploy from hospitals to homeless charities as the pressure eased medically but the social disconnection remained.

You lot donated almost £2,000, which kept the data flowing to the phones and tablets and we’ve exhausted that funding. We are closing our operation, and we’ve got enough to cover the last few payments for the last few devices still being used. 

It is the final opportunity to say thanks to businesses that provided time, talent and tech to support London Rainbow: Pickwick’s estate agent let us use their space, Giffgaff provided 5 new phones and some bonus credit, and Google’s corporate volunteering initiative supported us with tech genius time.

Over the last few months, we’ve been able to find a home for any unused devices, giving them to other charities to deploy, and recycling the rest (thanks to Recono.me). We’ve shared what we’ve learnt with the charities committed to long-term digital inclusion. There will be a small but permanent legacy from our work together in this London Rainbow initiative. There will always be people who need our help in our communities. Let's all commit to continuing to provide that help in 2021.

I’ll leave you with a story from a care worker in June.

"Flat 60 recently moved in in February, soon thereafter, the lockdown period started so she has not seen her family since. As a result Susan has been crying everyday, so I felt the video calling would help her in some way as a means of connecting with her son. I contacted her son and told him about the plan for video calling and he was very keen on the idea. So we did the call today and it went very well."