WARRINGTON Wolves legend Bennie Westwood is helping reduce the digital gap for families across Warrington by kick-starting the delivery of 100 computers to local families.
Covid-19 has created a stark digital divide in the UK, with 1.9 million households having no access to the Internet and tens of millions more reliant on pay-as-you-go services to make phone calls or access healthcare, education and benefits online. Children and young people from many families who have not been able to attend school due to the pandemic, lack the digital collateral (devices & internet access) to stay up to date with school work.
As the new school term starts, the Warrington Wolves Foundation has teamed up with the Coderdojo Foundation to secure 100 Raspberry Pi computer systems as part of the Stay Connected to School project. Working closely with community partners, Torus Foundation, the equipment is being distributed to families to help give children and young people a head start at the start of their return to school.
Through the town’s education networks, teachers have shared their experiences of childhood digital exclusion. Several reported that only a handful of the proposed beneficiaries are engaged in the online learning set by the school. For many of these households, WiFi has been identified as being just too expensive. The Stay Connected to School initiative will help avoid children and young people falling further behind with their education, an issue Neil Kelly (Wolves Foundation Director) is all too aware of;
“The importance of people being connected has never been more evident and the absence of technology in their homes over the last few months has enhanced the digital exclusion faced by vulnerable young people in our communities.
“As children return to school, we hope that our partnership with the Coderdojo Foundation and Torus Foundation will help the most in need with their school work as well as equipping them with new skills which they can take forward throughout their lives as they prepare for a better future.”
As always Warrington Wolves legend Bennie Westwood, showed support for community initiatives and stepped in to help kick start deliveries by making the first drop off to Elizabeth, her teenage son Chris and young daughter Brooke.
Warrington Wolves Ambassador Bennie explained: “As a parent, I know first-hand how incredibly difficult it has been for families to home school their children over the last few months and I take my hat off to all of the teachers who do such an amazing job in our town. I can’t even begin to imagine what it has been like for children who have not been able to use a computer or device to continue their learning and the Stay Connected to School initiative is a fabulous way of helping children catch-up on anything they have missed.
“I am immensely proud to be associated with providing children with these free Raspberry Pi’s and look forward to supporting the Wolves Foundation and Torus Foundation to help families who are in need of extra support at this difficult time.’
Mum Elizabeth comments, “It’s been challenging trying to help my son Chris and youngest, Brooke with homework during lockdown with only my phone to help them for any research and needing to look for answers.
“This brilliant equipment couldn’t have come at a better time, especially when Chris is just starting Year 10, an important time for him at school. We’re extremely grateful and we’d like to thank Ben for spending time with us outside and joining in Brooke’s dance moves!”
Kate Shone, Torus Foundation’s Managing Director adds, “Digital access is a key focus of our work. Being able to identify so many families, this initiative gives children and young people the opportunity to access to essential technology that will help them stay connected and keep learning, and we’re proud to be involved.
“To support the devices kindly donated by the Coderdojo Foundation, Torus Foundation will be funding the cost of 3 months of data usage for those without access to the Internet. So, as the children return to the classroom, a new world of learning will open up for them at home too.”
Son, Chris adds, “The homework has already started, the computer’s really going to help. I’m interested in computers so I’m looking forward to seeing how I can get the most out of it and maybe sneak in the odd game on it too