LiveWest has given £67,000 and 100 laptops to help disadvantaged children across the South West learn from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.
LiveWest, the largest housing provider in the South West, has supported families and children across the region by donating the refurbished laptops to a range of schools in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.
The housing provider has also issued £32,000 to schools to allow them to buy much-needed IT equipment.
In a move to bridge a social divide exposed by the pandemic, LiveWest has also helped more than 100 households get online through digital inclusion grants totalling more than £23,000.
It has also issued more than £12,000 in community grants to help people gain access to WiFi and online training.
With schools throughout England remaining closed until 8 March due to the current Covid-19 lockdown, teaching has been forced online and an estimated 1.8 million children did not have access to a home computer for remote learning according to recent figures issued by Ofcom.
In response to the shortfall, housing providers like LiveWest and other charitable organisations have been sending vital equipment to disadvantaged families and schools to help support those in need.
Tim Wotton, grants manager for LiveWest, said: “We understand the importance of customers being able to get online and wanted to play a part in addressing the issue some households face where IT can be a barrier to children’s learning.
“As a leading housing association, LiveWest can make a real difference to families and the community who have been hit hard by the impact of lockdowns.
“Giving back to our communities is a vital part of the work we do and we are absolutely delighted to be able to provide equipment which will make a positive difference to the children.
“Digital inclusion in a key priority for LiveWest and we want to support our communities with home schooling during lockdown.
“We are in the process of donating more of our refurbished laptops to schools across the region in areas where there is an identified need for vital equipment to support children and their education.”
Ashcombe Primary School in Weston-super-Mare were given 20 laptops by LiveWest to help bridge the educational gap created by lockdown.
Headteacher John Clark said: “I would like to thank LiveWest for this incredibly kind donation from you of some laptops for our families and I’m blown away by such wonderful generosity.”
St Martin’s Church of England Primary School, Cranbrook, has been given £6,600 to buy 20 Chrome Books so that pupils without access to computers are not disadvantaged.
Year five pupil, Jack Downing, has given a thumbs up to LiveWest’s donation, adding: “The laptop really helps with my writing and getting my ideas down on google docs. My mum is surprised how much work I am doing.”
St Humphry Davy School in Penzance was handed 20 laptops and a grant of £5,000 to support the children as they continue learn from home ahead of schools returning on 8 March.
Headteacher Bill Marshall said: “We are truly grateful for the support from our wonderful community and this generous offer by LiveWest as it will make a huge difference to the children.
“The lockdown may be coming to an end, but the students and their families will benefit long into the future.”
The laptop donations and financial assistance are part of LiveWest’s drive to provide community support across the South West.
With lockdown putting a strain on people’s finances, LiveWest stepped in to help customers in crisis by issuing more than 1,500 crisis and hardship grants to households across the South West, totaling more than £300,000 as well as £112,000 in grants for community spaces and digital inclusion.
Tim Wotton added: “Covid-19 means many more of our customers are really struggling as a result of changes to their income, employment or as a result of increased living costs.
“Through a combined approach, including our Tenancy Sustainment team, working with community organisations and other partners and agencies, we are able to help customers ensure they are accessing longer term support.”
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