Local businesses exceed expectations to help bridge ‘digital divide’ for disadvantaged children and vulnerable adults

Shaping Portsmouth is delighted to announce that donations to our Bridging Portsmouth’s Digital Divide programme have exceeded all expectations, helping us to continue delivering on our vision of making Portsmouth the No.1 City in which to learn.

The programme is aimed at helping the City’s disadvantaged children and vulnerable adults to gain access to education and essential services. Businesses were asked to donate new tablets and laptops, or second-hand devices that could be refurbished; or to provide a cash contribution (through a Crowdfunder page) towards a target of £5,000 to fund the purchase of additional devices which could be loaned to those in need.

A total of 35 devices have been donated to date, and £5,250 raised (plus an estimated £590 via Gift Aid) through our Crowdfunder, so the children and vulnerable adults are already benefitting from the programme.

Catching up

Mason aged 6 and Bonnie aged 7 with Head teacher, Helen Castle

First to receive the tablets and laptops were pupils at Manor Infant School in Fratton. Thanking everyone who donated, Head Teacher Helen Castle said she was delighted to know that families “will now have the access they need to support additional learning at home, even after the pandemic”.

Among the testimonials received from grateful Year 11 pupils at other City schools were: “It was great having a laptop to work on – I only had a phone before and the screen was broken”; “We only had a family PC before and I couldn’t always get on it”; and “I have been able to catch up on some of the work I missed during previous lockdowns.”

Enabling Digital Learning

Stef Nienaltowski, CEO, Shaping Portsmouth, says: “Portsmouth schools have made enormous strides over the last few months in developing their remote offer to pupils, producing both live and recorded lessons, and introducing welfare calls and group sessions. They have also introduced a wide range of apps to make it easier for teachers, pupils and parents to communicate when children are not in school. We see this trend of Digital Learning continuing and growing post-Covid; therefore, the need for devices will always be there.

“The work that the Government, Portsmouth City Council and individual schools, and the Academy Trusts have done to increase access to devices mean that these arrangements generally work very well. However, with many families sharing a single device or relying on a pay-as-you-use mobile phone to access children’s work for the day, the need for devices is ever increasing – and this was why we launched Bridging Portsmouth’s Digital Divide programme, and now we’re delighted with its success.”

Thanks for all the support

Stef adds: “We want to thank all the businesses for their fantastic and much-needed support to help bridge Portsmouth’s digital divide among disadvantaged families but also for vulnerable adults in the City, as we also collaborated with the Hive charity as part of this programme to ensure that they, too, can gain online access.”

Project Manager Hasmukh Patel (Husky) says: “I was amazed by the quick response of individuals and organisations who donated devices and funds. Even in such difficult times, the humility and resilience of Portsmouth’s residents and businesses to help its own has proved second to none.

“One example of an organisation stepping in to help is Inter Activ, a social enterprise within EnableAbility, the organisation who runs the Landport Community Centre. They kindly offered to provide their expertise in refurbishing the donated devices so that they are fit for purpose, and allowed us to use the Community Centre as the focal point for dropping donated devices and for collecting the devices that are ready to go. We are extremely grateful for their support.”

Shaping Portsmouth would particularly like to thank the following local businesses who made substantial donations to the programme: AMK Group, Essential Teaching UK, iServ Mechanical Ltd, Living Your Learning, Philip Gibbs Insurance Brokers, Rexel, and CG Restaurants and Bars.