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People suffering hardship get help to use tech

Cwmtawe Action to Combat Hardship supports people in dire financial straights, including refugees. With support from Digital Communities Wales, the charity can now help its clients access information and services online.


Cwmtawe Action to Combat Hardship (CATCH) is an independent charity which supports people suffering hardship in Neath Port Talbot and South Powys. From its base in Ystalyfera, it distributes food, clothes and other essentials to local people, including the Syrian refugee community.

Volunteers at the charity came to DCW to find out how they could help people make use of the internet. They recognised that this would be particularly valuable for older members of the community. Getting online means that people can often save money as well as accessing essential information and services. The charity’s volunteers recognised that this was another area where their support would make a big difference.


The volunteers took part in training run by DCW which showed them how to inspire people to get online. The project also lent tablet devices and laptops to CATCH, which people could use when they came to the distribution centre.


The laptops and tablets are being regularly used by CATCH clients – people use the equipment to search for jobs. Meanwhile, Google Translate has helped the charity’s volunteers to communicate more effectively with the Syrian families they support.

Matthew Bevan, DCW Advisor, commented, “It is fantastic to see how CATCH has embraced technology and recognised the important role it plays in helping people who are suffering hardship. The internet can offer so many possibilities to the most vulnerable in society and it is great that charities such as CATCH are helping people to experience the benefits.”

Nina Graham, CATCH Committee Member, said, “We’re grateful for the support of Digital Communities Wales in respect of both the training and loan of equipment for use in our organisation.

“We make the equipment available during our opening times. We have Syrian refugees in our catchment, and have offered them the use of the internet as a means of communication. We also use Google Translate to facilitate our own conversations with our Syrian friends when they come in.

“We also make the laptops available for job search, and one gentleman applied for 22 jobs the first time we gave him access.”

“We have plans to take a team of volunteers into a local residential home to engage with people who have had little opportunity or experience with digital technology. We’ve used one of the tablets to take photos of the local area, so we can show these to the residents when we visit.”