The Mail Force laptop campaign has smashed through the £1million barrier in just four days.
The phenomenal milestone has been reached thanks to reader generosity – and a stunning donation from Lloyds. The banking giant has offered 1,000 top-of-the-range laptops worth £500,000.
It is a sensational moment for the Computers for Kids drive to get urgently-needed devices to lockdown pupils. Our readers have now given the charity a staggering £445,000 – since only Saturday – helping children struggling to access online lessons.
Lloyds threw half a million pounds into the pot by donating 1,000 Surface Go 2 devices. Part laptop, part tablet, the cutting-edge machines have detachable screens.
It is a sensational moment for the Computers for Kids drive to get urgently-needed devices to lockdown pupils. Our readers have now given the charity a staggering £445,000 – since only Saturday – helping children struggling to access online lessons (file image)
The Lloyds gift means the Mail Force campaign has now generated £1.33million. It will help the charity add to the existing mammoth operation being run by the Department for Education, which has ordered 1.3million laptops for schoolchildren (file image)
‘We are proud to support the campaign to provide laptops to children in urgent need,’ said António Horta-Osório, group chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group.
‘The pandemic has highlighted the challenges faced by many families as they try to teach their children at home through remote learning.
‘This campaign is a highly important initiative which will help ensure that the most vulnerable children are not disadvantaged by the current lockdown restrictions.
‘A child’s access to education is vital and we need to ensure all children can have the technology they need to attend online lessons.’
HOW TO DONATE TO COMPUTERS FOR KIDS
TO YOU, THE READER: How to send us donations
The Daily Mail has launched a brand new campaign, Computers For Kids, to raise money for Mail Force – a charity which aims to provide much needed school equipment and resources for pupils across the UK learning from home.
With schools closed, we are left with the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of pupils in the UK having no access to a computer in their home.
As part of this campaign, companies are donating their old laptops which, for around £15, can be wiped, professionally refurbished and made safe and fit for home schooling. They can then be delivered to a child or young person who needs one.
In addition, the campaign is looking to support children’s needs in other ways such as funding brand new laptops and tablets, and assisting with data access and connectivity for online learning. Any surplus funds will be used to support of the work of UK schools via other means.
TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE
Visit mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate and follow the steps to complete your donation.
Please don’t send us your old device.
TO MAKE A DONATION VIA YOUR PHONE
To donate £10 – text KIDS10 to 70115
To donate £20 – text KIDS20 to 70115
TO COMPANIES: Could you give your old laptops?
Upgrading office computers is something all companies do from time to time – and there has never been a better time to donate old laptops. If you are a company with 50 laptops or more that you could give, please visit www.computacenter.com/daily-mail to check they are suitable and register your donation. We will arrange for collection by our specialist partners Computacenter. Please note: we cannot accept donated laptops from individuals.
COMPANIES SHOULD GO TO: computacenter.com/daily-mail
TO SCHOOLS: Where to apply for the computers
Schools must apply to the Department for Education, which is managing the demand and prioritising the schools most in need. The Mail Force initiative means more laptops will become available more quickly.
SCHOOLS CAN APPLY HERE: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk
The Lloyds gift means the Mail Force campaign has now generated £1.33million. It will help the charity add to the existing mammoth operation being run by the Department for Education, which has ordered 1.3million laptops for schoolchildren.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘Every pound donated to this campaign is one to further support young people in this country – and to have reached £1million in just a matter of days is testament to the value Mail readers place on our children’s learning.
‘I look forward to seeing just how far this campaign can go in building on the 1.3million devices we are providing for young people, as part of our work to make sure every child can continue to have the best possible education through this pandemic.’
Yesterday education chiefs announced a huge surge in their own operation, with an extra 74,000 machines delivered or dispatched by the Government to help with remote learning in the past week. The DfE has now delivered 876,013 laptops and tablets out of a 1.3million target.
Nothing Mail Force does will affect the Government’s drive – it is designed to complement it, just as it did last year when it was set up to help the NHS get vital items of PPE.
The Computers for Kids campaign has identified separate sources of technology kit to the Government’s supplies. These include second-hand laptops from firms, which can be refurbished for around £15 and made fit and safe for home schooling.
Donated laptops are securely managed and wiped by our IT specialist partner – which already handles contracts for many large banks and governments. With classrooms shut until possibly Easter, and a third of British families saying they do not have enough devices, the campaign aims to save countless youngsters from falling behind. Every penny is spent on getting laptops and tablets to children who desperately need them.
Former education secretary Lord Blunkett praised the Mail’s campaign on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday. He said: ‘We need immediately to get the children who don’t have the devices, to get them the equipment now – and I mean this week, not in three weeks’ time.
‘We know the catastrophic impact that this is having on children, and particularly on those who don’t have the devices. We know from local programmes, the Government’s own programme, and the Daily Mail and others that are organising nationally, we know that this is turning out to be an absolute catastrophe for equality of opportunity.’
Yesterday a generous online donation of £450 to Mail Force came from schoolboy Jake and his grandfather.
The youngster wrote: ‘I’m lucky because I have a computer I can use for my schoolwork. So my gramps is helping to buy a computer for other children. Good luck from Jake.’
Meanwhile, 89-year-old Betty, who survived Covid in the first wave, donated £125, and Derek Williams, 88, gave £150, with the message: ‘I just want to help some young person in need.’
David Paskin, who gave £30, said on the online donations page: ‘I’m blessed with two grandchildren who are fortunate to have necessary IT for their schooling so I would like to donate £30 to help two less fortunate children.’
A dinner-lady at a junior school contributed £100 and said she was looking forward to being ‘able to see the results of this campaign first hand’.
Lloyds Banking Group has been helping customers get online during the pandemic and last year set up a digital helpline to support them. It has also been helping non-customers, through referrals from charities including Age UK and Mental Health UK.
Data firms told to help families who have no broadband access
By Arthur Martin for The Daily Mail
Teachers and campaigners yesterday demanded data giants and the Government do more to help almost one million children without broadband at home.
Pupils across the country are unable to watch online lessons during lockdown because their parents cannot afford WiFi.
Others live in areas where broadband connections are patchy or non-existent.
It means that hundreds of thousands of children are relying on their mobile phones to access learning materials and take part in lessons. Many cannot afford to pay to livestream lessons or watch educational videos due to mobile data costs.
A Daily Mail poll illustrates the effect of school closures on children and shows four in ten parents say the cost of computers and other items they need is too high
Even on the cheapest deals, a family with four children would use mobile data worth £80 each month just to attend lessons.
This figure is likely to be higher once online homework and personal use is taken into consideration.
Last night MPs and campaigners called for more to be done to help children on the wrong side of the so-called ‘digital divide’. There were calls for disadvantaged families to be given devices known as MiFi dongles which create a WiFi signal.
One of these devices would work for an entire household and can be used to connect laptops and tablets to the internet.
This month Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, wrote to the Prime Minister demanding more help for children without internet connection.
The letter was co-signed by high profile politicians, including former prime minister Tony Blair and Lord Blunkett.
And after addressing the Commons on this issue yesterday, Miss McDonagh told the Mail: ‘What the Daily Mail and the Government are doing to get laptops to kids who need them is great – but it’s only half the story. No matter how great your laptop is, without data it does not work. And at the moment the system for getting data – particularly for poorer families – is far too complex and far too expensive.’
She added: ‘Every laptop issued should come with MiFi to allow internet access at home. Without that, the digital divide widens.’ More than one in five children in deprived areas do not have adequate internet access for learning, according to a report published by the Sutton Trust this month.
‘Teachers in 95 per cent of state schools said they had some students without the internet. This figure dropped to 46 per cent for private schools.
Mobile phone companies including O2, EE, Three and Vodafone have offered to provide free data through a scheme launched by the Department for Education until the end of July.
Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Media and Smarty are offering similar deals. Although this will help thousands, the offers relies on pupils already being customers of certain phone companies and having a phone that is capable of linking to a laptop.
Data companies have said they will not charge customers for using educational websites such as BBC Bitesize and the Oak National Academy. But these offers typically do not cover lessons with teachers.
Chris Hillidge, a director at The Challenge Academy Trust in Warrington, said: ‘Lack of technology has, by far, been the biggest challenge. Our school is an area of considerable socio-economic deprivation and many students simply do not have a laptop or suitable device at home.’
Dr Bill Mitchell, director of policy at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT added: ‘We have all got to work together to develop a national strategy that recognises the digital divide as a modern measure of inequality – and removes it once and for all.’