By Sam Dixon, Community Organiser
As I started in my new role for RotherFed, we got instantly put back into lockdown as a country. Schools were closed and children were yet again unable to access their education. On the national media I noticed that there was a push starting to close the digital divide for families. Learning was quickly becoming an online entity and some of the most vulnerable families lacked the resources for their young people.
I knew that action needed to be taken, and that it had to happen quickly. I contacted Sheffield based charity Laptops for Kids who were already engaged with Learn Sheffield. Working together they were in the process of taking donations of devices and distributing them to schools who could get them those who needed them most. Part of their remit was initially to extend their support to all parts of South Yorkshire, so I arranged, with the support of Rob, a meeting to discuss how we could start working together.
At the first meeting I was delighted to find out that the Assistant Director of Education from RMBC, Nathan Heath, had also been invited to attend. Nathan stated that 1000 laptops had already been ear marked for distribution throughout the borough. The Laptops will be owned by the schools with user agreements between the schools and families.
Rob and I continue to attend meetings and receive feedback from the joint project. A massive donation came in from AES Seal, and the project has received over 1000 devices from this company alone. In response to this the LA is also in the process of procuring another 500 devices to go out to schools. In total the partners together have procured and delivered nearly 3000 devices in total including those that came directly from Rotherham Department of Education.