A campaign has been launched to provide hundreds of children across Cornwall with the kit they need to access online learning.
There are more than 1,800 children in Cornwall without access to a computer or affordable data connection which means they risk falling behind in their education, especially during the Covid lockdown.
This is despite more than 500 laptops being provided to Cornish schools by the Department for Education this month.
Now the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Digital Skills Partnership (DSP) has teamed up with Newquay-based Crowdfunder, Cornwall Council and local businesses to launch the Kit4Kids campaign to help bridge the gap.
The campaign is asking as many businesses, community organisations and individuals as possible to help raise a minimum of £75k to buy laptops and data dongles for Cornish primary and secondary schools to loan to families in need. £200 is enough to provide a laptop and Crowdfunder has pledged to match £4k in donations.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has kicked off the campaign with a £20k contribution, which is enough to provide 100 laptops.
Frances Brennan, who chairs the LEP’s employment and skills board, said: “Digital inclusion is vital to give our young people the opportunities they deserve which is why we have asked our Digital Skills Partnership to lead this campaign and have pledged enough funding to buy 100 laptops.
“This equipment will help deal with immediate home-schooling issues and create a legacy by bridging the digital divide for hundreds of children and their families long after the pandemic is over. Now more than ever we need to support families to have full access to online learning and they shouldn’t have to choose between food, heating or educating their children.”
Caitlin Gould, chair of the Digital Skills Partnership and a director of Cornish software company Bluefruit, said: “The ability for families to have laptops and access to the internet in their home will help ensure students across Cornwall aren’t left behind. It will also help parents and carers to connect with schools for critical updates, find support from local community groups and create new opportunities for family learning. It isn’t just a laptop, it’s a lifeline that can make staying home and staying safe possible.”
Kit4Kids is being supported by Crowdfunder which is waiving its usual fees and has already launched similar campaigns in other parts of the country. Founder Rob Love said: “It’s great to see so many people – including parents, friends, family and local businesses – coming together to get hundreds of children the kit they need to access vital online learning resources.
“Crowdfunder is delighted to bring this all together in one place with the LEP’s backing and will be making a matched donation of up to £4k as an additional contribution.”
Kit4Kids has an initial target of £75k which would be enough to buy around 375 devices. If the campaign goes well it will set a stretch goal of £200k. If this can be reached it is estimated that more than 1,000 children across Cornwall will benefit.