Laptops for Kids has joined forces with local authorities, including Rotherham Council, to buy nearly 7,000 devices for South Yorkshire – enough to supply most of the households in need in the county.
The charitable organisation has sourced a supply of child-friendly laptops from Dell Technologies to enable children to access remote learning during the pandemic.
The councils of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield are securing these devices to distribute to schools across their local communities. Schools will share the laptops with households in need.
Laptops for Kids launched in Sheffield in September 2020 in response to the number of households unable to take part in online lessons and has expanded to other northern towns and cities.
The Children’s Commissioner has estimated that nine per cent of families are without a laptop, desktop or tablet at home.
Technology entrepreneur David Richards, who co-founded the campaign, said: “While it is welcome news that schools are reopening, we have to be prepared for more disruption in the coming months.
“Children must be able to safely access technology at home so they can keep up with their education and develop digital skills for the future.
“We applaud local government leaders in South Yorkshire for stepping up to meet the need and invest in the next generation of successful young people.”
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “Our young people have been hit hard by Covid, with many experiencing almost a year of disruption to their learning.
“Here in South Yorkshire we’re leading the way on tackling digital exclusion. In partnership with our local councils and Laptops for Kids, we’re ensuring that every young person has a brand-new laptop and internet connection – to minimise disruption to their education.
“I’ve always said that where you grow up should not determine where you end up, and I’m proud that we’re making that a reality in South Yorkshire.”
Rotherham Council is investing in a further 500 laptops, on top of the 1,500 donated by local employer AESSEAL plc.
Councillor Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “We are delighted once again to be teaming up with Laptops for Kids to distribute a further 500 laptops to children in Rotherham, bringing the total number of children supported who would not otherwise have had access to online learning to more than 2,000.
“With disruption to in-school learning likely to continue in the immediate future, this will provide a lifeline to learning for children. I am proud that the laptop rollout in Rotherham has been a true community effort between the council, local business and the Laptops for Kids charity.”
AESSEAL, a global manufacturing group headquartered in Rotherham, has also donated £100,000 to buy dongles for connecting 10,000 households to the internet.