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Mayor of London offers hope to digitally excluded school kids

The Mayor of London has launched a new campaign to get old unused laptops, smart phones and other electronic devices to families in need.

The closure of schools in the UK during the current lockdown has highlighted the digital divide, where vulnerable adults and children are unable to access education and training online.

The news comes off the back of recent research by the Sutton Trust and Teacher Tapp, which found that only 10 per cent of schools said that all their pupils had a laptop.

The drive by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan will include launch of a Taskforce, which will tackle digital exclusion in the City and source new and upgraded electronic devices for adults and children in need.

The Taskforce will be led by London’s Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwall, who has a set an ambitious target of ensuring that every Londoner has access to the internet, digital skills, and devices they need by 2025.

Sadiq Khan said that thousands of Londoners had already donated their old devices and was confident that this would continue to increase in the coming weeks.

The Mayor commented:

The pandemic and the restrictions to limit the spread of the virus will continue to have a profound impact on all our lives. But I’m determined to work with organisations across the capital to do everything possible to ensure children are able to gain a good education despite of the challenges we all face.

Partners include London Grid for Learning, a charity which provided 100,000 devices for schools during the first lockdown alone, and SocialBox.Biz, which upgrades old laptops and other devices and gives them to the elderly, refugees and homeless people, among others.

Carolyn Williams of SocialBox.Biz said that many of us probably take for granted our ability to go online to meet friends and loved ones, or do our shopping from the safety of our homes. She hoped that companies and individuals will start to take notice of the campaign as soon as possible as many of them were sat on ‘piles’ of unused laptops and tablets.

Carolyn said:

We need every organisation to start looking at their procurement policy to help tackle digital isolation. We need their old technology as soon as possible to support those in need.

Photo credit © Greater London Authority