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Bridging the digital divide.

27 Apr 2021

In the twenty first century digital access should be a right and not a privilege

Participant at Leicestershire Cares webinar

Since Lockdown began in March 2020 it quickly became obvious that having internet access and the knowledge and means to use it were essential, to ensure families, children and young people were not left behind. Leicestershire Cares staff, worked in partnership with a wide range of schools, community and business partners to:

  • Support families, children and young people getting internet access, most often through providing Sim card access as well as lending laptops.
  • Staff and volunteers also supported families, children and young people developing IT skills so they were confident in accessing information and learning remotely.
  • We also partnered with community organisations to collect, recondition and distribute laptops to families in need.
  • Given this was such a big issue we organised a webinar on the issue in partnership with De Monforte university and Leicestershire and Leicester child safeguarding. The session was attended by a wide range of professionals from across business, community and Local authorities and helped put the issue firmly on the local agenda.
  • Over the last few months, we have been establishing “safe distance” homework clubs where “disadvantaged” young people can come and have access to laptops, internet access, a healthy meal and support from skilled workers. We have one club up and running from our office base and two others are just starting in St Mathews and New parks.
  • Schools have asked us for headphones for students, so they are better able to learn on line and we have managed to persuade local businesses to donate and our distributing these.
  • We are planning with schools how we can support them delivering remote catch up summer holiday sessions.
  • We are exploring how we can work with schools and community groups to support “parents” to develop IT skills so they can support their children. This can be a “sensitive” issue as parents can be embarrassed to admit they do not have IT skills, hence the need for local community groups to support and raise awareness.
  • Throughout lockdown we have organised and delivered a wide range of online session and videos for young people, that have focussed on employability skills and we have worked with schools to make the running of these remote events as smooth and as accessible as possible.

A lot of creative work has been developed and delivered and in truth it has brought home the fact that in the modern world internet access is as essential as running water and electricity.

Kieran Breen CEO Leicestershire Cares