Cadogan donates laptops to bridge the digital divide
As our community faces the challenges of the latest lockdown, one issue receiving national attention is the stark digital divide across the country.
Remote learning has proved an immense challenge for schools and families during the pandemic and has highlighted the major inequalities in access to technology across the UK. An Ofcom survey found that nine percent of children in the UK – up to 1.8 million – do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home, preventing students from properly participating in online learning, support services and social opportunities.
Kensington and Chelsea has one of the worst rates of income inequality among the London Boroughs, with nearly a quarter of working residents earning less than the London Living Wage and over 5,000 residents digitally excluded. Bridging this ‘digital divide’ in our community is essential, to mitigate the impact on children who are unable to complete online learning and fall behind in their studies. Local charity, The Kensington & Chelsea Foundation, has also identified over 400 vulnerable young people for whom home is not a safe or suitable learning space and who need an alternative while schools are closed.
Cadogan has funded 57 laptops, totalling £21,816, which are currently being distributed to local youth organisations who are able to offer a safe, quiet space for young people to learn. Trusted youth workers will invite young people to use laptops, in line with Covid guidelines, throughout lockdown and beyond.
This is the latest initiative from Cadogan’s £20 million Business Community Fund, which provides ongoing financial help and resources to tenants, partners and local charities to support Chelsea’s longer-term recovery from the pandemic. Other core initiatives have included emergency rent support and relief measures, donations to Chelsea & Westminster Hospital’s Covid-19 Rapid Response Fund and the provision of hotel accommodation for NHS frontline workers.
Anne Goodger, CEO of the Dalgarno Trust, received laptops this week commented; “We haven’t had the capacity to offer young people the space to come and do their homework – now we are able to! This is going to be so beneficial to our families who are without doubt feeling the pressure of home learning.”
Cadogan has been joined by other local groups and businesses, the Martin Charitable Trust, Julia and Hans Rausing and the Hollick Family Foundation to achieve complete funding for the first phase of this Digital Inclusion Project – but more is desperately needed to support delivery of homework clubs, catch up lessons and learning support.