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Computers 4 Charity's mission to supply every hospice patient with a device or laptop to communicate with family

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When the coronavirus pandemic hit Kent , one charity decided it was time to refocus their attentions on those closer to home who needed their help.

Computers 4 Africa, an organisation taking redundant electronic devices and refurbishing them for people across the developing world, set out on a new mission - to provide those nearing the end of their lives with a way to keep in contact with their loved ones.

George Cook of Computers 4 Charity
George Cook of Computers 4 Charity

Covid measures have made it difficult for many of those in palliative and hospice care to be able to see family members face to face for fear of further spreading the virus.

George Cook, honorary chief executive of the Aylesford -based charity, is sending laptops, tablets and iPads to hospices across the county so if they cannot be physically in front of their loved ones, then at least they can see them on a screen.

The 64-year-old said: "It's really tragic that because of the pandemic visitors are simply not allowed because of the risk.

"The thought that people are dying alone - I accept the nurse holding their hand is human comfort - but it's not quite the same as your family.

"We really want every single inpatients in every hospice in Kent to be able to say goodbye face to face with their families, and their families have that moment to say goodbye to them."

The charity hopes to provide devices for all patients to stay in touch with their families. Picture: Heart of Kent Hospice
The charity hopes to provide devices for all patients to stay in touch with their families. Picture: Heart of Kent Hospice

As well as helping inpatients, Mr Cook hopes to provide those at home with the means to keep in contact with their families as well as hospice care staff.

He said: "I understand that 95% of hospice patients are outpatients, because they have a terminal condition but they're not bedridden or disabled yet, they still have most of their motor functions working.

"There's a push to try and reduce the number of face to face in close proximity visits by medical staff, and we discovered what Heart of Kent hospice really needed was laptops for outpatients, so doctors and nurses could assess their condition from a distance without having to visit them and potentially spread the virus."

Sarah Pugh, chief executive of Heart of Kent Hospice, said: "Thank you Computers 4 Charity for your kind donation.

"The Hospice is committed to adapting its services so that we can continue our outstanding care to patients and their families.

The company refurbish unwanted laptops from businesses and those who donate
The company refurbish unwanted laptops from businesses and those who donate

"These laptops will be used by our Family Support Team so that patients and families can access our counselling and bereavement support digitally.”

Mr Cook has also supplied laptops to Demelza Hospice, a children's charity based in Aylesford.

Tim Richards, Operations Manager at Demelza, said: "We are extremely grateful to Computers 4 Charity for donating 10 refurbished laptops to Demelza.

"This kind gesture couldn’t have come at a better time, with Covid-19 forcing us to quickly adapt and digitally-revolutionise our ways of working.

"With the majority of our workforce working remotely from home and support services and therapies for families moving online, the laptops have brought us together at a time when we are apart for safety reasons."

Picture: Demelza Hospice
Picture: Demelza Hospice

The charity are currently desperate for laptops and are hoping companies and individuals will consider donating unwanted devices to them for refurbishment.

Past donors have included Cambridge University, Porsche and the government.

Since March 2020 the charity has provided more than 100 laptops and devices to hospices across the country, as well as to unemployed veterans and other charity volunteers.

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