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#WeMakeICTPossible campaign to tackle digital poverty takes off

Posted onPosted on 21st Jan

A campaign launched to provide much-needed IT equipment to Mansfield and Ashfield schoolchildren has delivered its first refurbished donated laptops to schools.

Three business leaders started the initiative — now known as #WeMakeICTPossible — last year.

They said many children and young people do not have access to a computer, laptop, tablet and internet outside school and are continuing to appeal to people and businesses to donate unwanted old laptops or money to help equipment like routers.

#WeMakeICTPossible was launched by Gary Jordan (pictured), managing director of GMJ Solutions and chair of Mansfield and Ashfield 2020; Martin Rigley, managing director of Lindhurst Engineering, Sutton, and chair of Discover Ashfield; and Katie Cooper-Lewis.

Their first delivery was of 55 cleansed and reloaded laptops and a further 65 will be handed over in the next few days.

The first schools to benefit were Queen Elizabeth’s Academy, King Edward Primary, Sutton Road, Primary, Mansfield; Orchard Primary and Brackenhill School, Kirkby; Academy Transformation Trust FE, Sutton; Woodland View Primary, Huthwaite; Meden School, Warsop; Holgate Primary, Hucknall; and Manor Academy, Mansfield Woodhouse; but #WeMakeICTPossible has a long list of schools needing help.

Gary said: “Massive thanks to The Coal Authority staff for engaging with the project, and all the other businesses, family and friends who have donated so far.

“Particular thanks to Alan Hughes, of Rock Salt Solutions Limited, for helping us get many of the laptops ready.”

#WeMakeICTPossible was launched before the national coronavirus lockdown put a national focus on youngsters’ home learning and the need for equipment.

Gary added: “Digital poverty was here before Covid and it is fantastic to see so many groups collecting laptops during the latest lockdown.

“But back in late October 2020, myself, Martin and Katie set about this idea with a longer term view of help because digital poverty will be here long after Covid is under control.
“Digital poverty in children will and can lead to digital exclusion as an adult. We will continue our work and sincerely hope the many new groups do the same.

“If you want to help ease the current situation or donate to ease the pain of the future please see our contact details.”

Anyone wanting to donate equipment and get in touch should go to: Facebook and @wemakeICTpossible, Twitter and @wemakeICTposs or LinkedIn and #WeMakeICTPossible.

If you wish to donate funds towards buying equipment such as 4G routers and what is needed to make donated desktop systems usable, go to https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/wemakeICTpossiblenotts

Gary added that schools were already operating under a ‘new normal’ that was heavily reliant on technology before the latest national coronavirus lockdown — and the ongoing pandemic was intensifying the digital divide.

“Many children and young people do not have access to a computer, laptop, tablet and internet outside school. In some schools, the divide is as much as 30%.

“Without this core digital infrastructure, children and young people cannot access education at home and it can have several other detrimental effects, including on mental health.”