Amid the third national lockdown since COVID-19 arrived in the UK, the issue of ‘digital poverty’ has become ever more apparent, with many families still unable to access devices essential for home learning.
In March 2020, 34% of the UK population suffered loss of connectivity and whilst the Department for Education announced a £400m laptop roll-out scheme the following month, recent surveys indicate that the 876,013 devices delivered so far has still left up to 1.8 million children without access to laptop, desktop or tablet.
Ryan Slaney, Managing Director at iLockerz, has dedicated his efforts to making technology more accessible through the implementation of the company’s intelligent locker systems at schools, colleges and universities, and believes more needs to be done to tackle the digital divide.
Having explored various initiatives aimed at providing poorer children with devices, Ryan discovered the Connect_In campaign from local company, Wowdot CIC, and was keen to back the appeal for PC and laptop donations for thousands of families across the region.
Ryan says: “We are fortunate to have worked with organisations across many sectors which have adopted our locker systems to securely store and manage, in many cases, electronic devices such as iPads, tablets and laptops.
“I would now like to kindly urge our customers, along with other local businesses, to donate the devices they no longer need so that they can benefit those in education who desperately need access to technology.”
As a company, iLockerz is driven by technology and embraces talent at every opportunity. This supports the imminent need to bridge the gap of device availability which, if overlooked, could pose a real threat to the future skills of many individuals.
iLockerz pledges to do all it can to help the ‘Connect_In’ campaign achieve the current goal of providing devices to 1,000 children and families in Birmingham. Initiated by Cas Majid, CEO of Wow Group of Companies and Founder of Wowdot CIC, the campaign is also backed by The Child Poverty Action Forum along with a consortium of Midlands-based organisations.
Cas comments: “The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the lack of connectivity across the UK and, whilst home schooling may not be a permanent arrangement, learning through the use of technology will continue long after children return to school.
“We must all pull together to ensure that no child is being deprived of an opportunity to fulfil their potential, and with the help of businesses like iLockerz, we will help families who can’t afford electronic devices to secure a brighter future.”
As 20,000 young people in schools across Birmingham are still feeling the impact of digital poverty, The Digital Education Partnership has also been launched and, along with the Connect_In campaign, is backed by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce; reinforcing the message that a joint effort is needed to help those families currently being excluded from education during lockdown.
Businesses and individuals can join iLockerz in ‘helping tackle the digital divide for good’ by donating unwanted PCs and laptops to Wowdot CIC. Alternatively, financial contributions can be made via the campaign’s dedicated Gofundme page, with all funds going towards the provision of 12 months internet connection and a reconditioned PC or laptop to families living in and around Birmingham.