Sovereign Housing Association has donated £25,000 via fundraising platform The Good Exchange to provide disadvantaged children with access to laptops so they can learn from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Of the donation, £12,500 went to Greenham Trust’s Laptops for Lockdown Learning fund, which will be match-funded by the charity up to £25,000 to support families in West Berkshire and north Hampshire.
A further £12,500, which has been boosted by a further £10,000 from another funding partner via The Good Exchange, will support families struggling to access the tech their children need for home-schooling across the rest of Sovereign’s geography.
According to figures from Ofcom, around 9% of children in the UK (between 1.1m-1.8m) do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home.
The majority of students in need either use parents’ mobile phones, often on pay-as-you-go, costing up to £100 a day to access data, or have to share devices with siblings who are also learning remotely.
In some cases, children go without access to any device at all, severely hampering their ability to learn and widening the gap between households that have and those that have not still further.
Chris Boulton, CEO for Greenham Trust, said: “The pandemic has shone a stark light on the gap in provision for families in lockdown, but we must make sure this gap doesn’t continue to grow.
“Whilst the government nationally and locally are working hard to support schools in a quickly evolving situation, there is clearly a need to provide additional help.
“We believe responsibility now falls on the voluntary sector and local community to ensure that disadvantaged children do not fall through the cracks when it comes to continuing their education during these difficult times.”
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The housing association’s own fund will support schools that apply directly via The Good Exchange, across the other regions that it covers, including Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Isle of Wight, Bristol, Dorset, and Devon.
Sam Dart, head of Customer Digital Technologies for Sovereign, added: “In addition to providing laptops for our customers, at Sovereign we’ve also opened up a laptop lending scheme for our employees.
“We’ve got 100 laptops available to loan to any families in need of support to get their children online.”
Last week, for Children’s Mental Health Week (1-7 February), Sovereign Sovereign also highlighted some of the it has worked on with charity providers via the Good Exchange and Crowdfunder, which has increased the amount of funding available to groups.
In Swindon, local group ‘The Beach Hut’ was able to run out door family arts and crafts, forest school workshops, and boxing sessions throughout October and December. Children attending the sessions also got involved with making up food parcels to thank key workers in the area.
And in West Berkshire, Sovereign put £5,000 toward ‘Time to Talk’. Four different funding partners and 68 public donors contributed to the campaign, which offers young people one to one counselling sessions. This meant that every £1 they had donated was boosted to £5.
The Sovereign Good Exchange fund continues to support a wide range of projects, including those that give people struggling with their mental health a way forward.
- If you are a school that has identified families who don’t have access to laptops, tablets or other devices to enable their children to learn from home, you can apply online
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