With schools remaining shut to most children in a bid to curb the alarming rise of COVID-19, millions of children are expected to learn digitally. Yet, according to Ofcom, an estimated 9% of children in the UK don't have access to a laptop, desktop, or a tablet at home.
In these unprecedented times, lack of computer access means that many of our most vulnerable children could miss out on their education — further entrenching inequalities for families living in poverty.
However, a new campaign spearheaded by The Restart Project seeks to bridge the digital divide by providing children in urgent need with laptops. The London-based technology charity is appealing to Londoners to donate their unused laptops so they can be repaired and distributed to disadvantaged students across the capital.
To do so, The Restart Project has teamed up with eight not-for-profit organisations to prepare the laptops for reuse. If you've got a device to donate, these are the places to go:
- Catbytes* (Lewisham)
- Don’s Local Action* (Wandsworth, Merton and Kingston)
- Lambeth Tech Aid (Lambeth)
- Little Lives (London-wide)
- Mer-IT (Islington)
- Power to Connect (Wandsworth)
- Ready Tech Go* (Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster)
- Tech Inclusion UK* (Tower Hamlets)
* Also accepting cash donations.
Other ways to get involved
If you don't have a laptop collecting dust in a drawer somewhere, you can still get involved in the project by donating cash to any of the asterisked organisations above, or to The Restart Project's own donation drive.
Another way you can help — if you've got tech skills — is to volunteer at your local hub and ensure that laptops are ready for distribution as soon as possible.
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Companies can also make a difference by donating spare parts such as keyboards or drives — though those interested should contact The Restart Project directly, at firstname.lastname@example.org rather than donating to their local hub.
However you choose to get involved, know that you'll be helping young people access their basic right to an education. It's worth noting, though, that students also need a quiet space to study, a reliable internet connection and access to high-quality learning resources in order to thrive. If you or someone you know is struggling with the latter two, several mobile network providers including EE, O2, Three and Vodafone are planning free access to online access the Oak National Academy, which is home to thousands of free lessons and can be found here.