Suffolk residents are urged to donate their spare digital devices for school children as part of a new campaign ‘IT kit for kids’

Published

A campaign has been launched to encourage Suffolk residents/businesses to donate laptops and tablets for school children to learn at home.

Suffolk County Council is working with the Creative Computing Club which is a Community Organisation based in Ipswich to re-purpose and re-home donated computers.

If residents or businesses wish to donate a laptop or tablet, they can do so by going to creativecomputingclub.com/donations. They will be asked to fill out a form about their device to ensure it meets a minimum specification. For example, devices must be capable of running windows 10 and must be Wi-Fi enabled.

The Creative Computing Club will ensure that the laptop is wiped of any personal data. If residents or business do not have spare equipment but want to make a financial contribution to help children access digital resources they can make a donation at justgiving.com.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how important computers and access to the internet is for children and young people. Digital devices can help children and young people to engage with education, stay in touch with friends and family and support them to access services. Supporting disadvantaged children, young people and families to be able to take advantage of digital to support their learning, pursue their interests and get on in life is an important longer-term challenge.

The support families and schools have been able to provide directly to their children, and the national government scheme to provide 1.3m computers to schools across the country, are the primary means to help children to learn from home. Suffolk County Council has an important role in supporting more vulnerable children and young people in the county. From June 2020 to now, through the Department for Education scheme and our own resources, Suffolk County Council Children’s Services have distributed 1000 laptops, 100 tablets and 150 4G Hotspots, primarily to children with a Social Worker and care leavers who did not have suitable access to technology. SCC has purchased a further 300 computers to help sustain this.

In January, SCC’s Virtual School initiative was also restarted, which works with schools and families to support more vulnerable children to access education. This included providing funding directly to schools to support the purchase of computers for individual vulnerable children.

Councillor Mary Evans, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills said:

“I am delighted that SCC has joined forces with the Creative Computing Club to run this campaign.

“Our young people across Suffolk are learning from home and with so many aspects of life now relying on access to computers and the internet it is essential children and young people have the technology to enable them to learn, and socialise virtually with their friends and family.

“I know there are many fantastic community groups across the county working already with their local schools to ensure that they have the kit they need for their students to join in remote classes. I would encourage everyone to support the campaign whether they are residents with a laptop they no longer need or businesses with devices they can contribute. Together, we can ensure our young people are less isolated in lockdown and have the technology they need to learn and stay in touch with their friends.”

This work is part of a wider approach to tackle digital inclusion that will also seek to help many other people including adult learners, young people who are not engaged in education, employment or training, people with additional needs and older people. This includes equipping people with not just the equipment such as laptops and access to highspeed broadband but the skills, motivation, and confidence to use digital devices.