Bedfordshire Learning Link
has been set up to give young people access to the technology they need for learning.
Digital poverty existed before COVID-19 but the effects of this pandemic have brought this issue into sharp focus. The digital divide - a divide between those who have access to devices and Wi-Fi, and those who do not - creates an even greater injustice and imbalance in society between those that are already disadvantaged and those who are not. Opportunities to develop skills and access education for children and young people are increasingly digital by default, and without a device to work on at home, young people fall behind in their studies and miss out on developing key skills when compared to their peers. This causes young people to worry because they know that they do not have what they need to fully participate in their studies, leaving them feeling uncertain about their future. They can also feel socially excluded from their peers. Poor digital skills will also massively impact on their future employability.
46% of young people in Luton and 29% in Bedford live in poverty. This often means young people will not have all the equipment they need to learn from home, including a digital device or Wi-Fi. Bedfordshire schools are providing a comprehensive range of online learning and, although the government has extended its ‘get help with technology’ program and provisions have been made for many young people to access WiFi and devices, we are still seeing many children and young people excluded from this allocation process. Sadly, Lockdown 3 seems to have widened the digital divide as more schools are delivering learning remotely and, if a young person does not have digital access or has to share with siblings or with parents, it is much harder for them to participate fully, or indeed totally impossible for them to engage, with education.
To date, the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire Susan Lousada, Bedfordshire Learning Link in conjunction with Luton Learning Link have delivered over 1500 devices to students throughout the county. In the next few months we are hoping to make a significant impact once more on reducing digital poverty within this county and allowing more of our children to fulfil their true academic potential.
What do we
want to do?
We wish to provide children with digital devices they need to engage in education.
Who will get
Working with children's services and family liaison services within the schools we will identify those children who do not have a device or share with siblings or parents. We are also able to help provide wifi in some circumstances
How can you
Should you wish to make a donation please visit the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire's Just Giving Page. We are also able to repurpose your unused devices!