Digital Divide project supported 271 children in St Helens during lockdown

A scheme which saw businesses and charities join forces with St Helens Council to give children crucial technology for home working helped support 271 children.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 12:48 pm
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 12:50 pm
Pupils and teachers at St Cuthbert's Catholic High School with some of the laptops donated to the school

The Digital Divide project was brought together by the council alongside The Hope Centre and Byte Charity who helped to clean and install software on donated laptops as part of the project.

Every request for digital support was met through the scheme and thanks to St Helens Ambassadors like Newton-le-Willows commercial property developer Network Space, who lead property management at sites including St Helens RLFC Stadium, Mere Grange and Centrix House, as well as working with St Helens Borough Council and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority on the delivery of Glass Futures in St Helens town centre.

They donated more than £18,000 which helped to buy 150 new laptops, this provided a lifeline to make sure young people have been able to carry on school work at home during the recent lockdown. Other support also came from NGF Europe, The Christian Life Centre and Samaritans Purse.

The equipment will also help to continue to support young people continue their learning in the future.

In total 10 schools benefitted from the programme and all the young people are now making the most of their own technology to help their studies.

Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Education, Business and Skills, said: “We know that the sudden switch to home learning a year ago posed a huge challenge for many families, who simply didn't have the equipment at home that children and young people needed to engage with their school or college work.

"No child should be disadvantaged because of a lack of access to a computer and internet connectivity, and the response from schools, businesses and charities who stepped up to provide this vital equipment for the young people of St Helens Borough must be congratulated."

Amy Ainscough, Communities Director at Network Space, added: “We are delighted to support this hugely valuable project which is a fantastic collaboration between the private, public and charitable sectors.

"During these difficult times it is essential to make sure that the vulnerable young people in our community do not get left behind just because they don’t have access to the right equipment.”

St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School Headteacher, Catherine Twist added: “Initiatives such as these really increase accessibility and make it a level playing field for all children. We are delighted with the resources we have been given and it will make a huge difference to the learning and progression for our young people here at St Cuthbert’s.”