The Berkeley Group IT team in Send has donated 48 refurbished laptops to its local partner Surrey Young Carers, part of charity Action for Carers Surrey, to help make sure all young people who are learning remotely during the pandemic has access to a suitable device.
Surrey Young Carers support around 14,000 young carers. Before the pandemic, 74% of them said they regularly find it difficult to do homework or coursework, with this figure likely to have risen in the last year.
All laptops were wiped clean of previous work, re-booted, and set up with the correct software before being passed to the Surrey Young Carers team. They will be distributed to the waiting list of young people they work with over the next week. Having their own device will make a big difference to the young carers, who are combining home schooling with their regular caring duties.
The pandemic has created a digital divide across the UK, with new research from the education charity Teach First stating that over a third of parents (37%) say they have at least one child with no exclusive use of a device for schoolwork. The research also found that 10% of parents say they have at least one child sharing with siblings, 13% sharing with other adults in the household, 11% sharing with both adults and siblings and 6% with no access to a device at all.
In addition to helping the young people complete their school work, it will let them access other virtual services - such as Surrey Young Carers's information, support and 'time out' sessions.
Joe Edwards from Action for Carers said "Huge thank you to the Berkeley Group IT team for the laptops; we really appreciate receiving them ready for distribution to our young carers. The lockdown has been hard for them, with many not having access to an exclusive device. Home schooling from a smart phone is really tricky, and this will make things easier for them whilst schools are closed - and for homework once they're back in the classroom. It will also provide them with access to our online sessions and make sure we can continue to support them,"
Chris Gilbert, Head of IT at Berkeley Group said "As a result of school closures due to the pandemic, it has highlighted the importance of young children having access to technology and virtual learning to prevent a long-lasting effect on their education. I am really pleased that we've been able to give 48 young carers their own laptop, and hope it will help them to get through these challenging times and in their future education."
Berkeley Group is also refurbishing 20 desktops and monitors to be donated to Surrey Young Carers next month.