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100 laptops delivered to Tower Hamlets pupils to tackle the digital divide.

Alejandro Guerrero Avalos, Year 3, with brother, mum and dad
  • 100 laptops donated to digitally disadvantaged pupils as part of Tower Hamlets Connecting Communities partnership
  • Stebon Primary School pupils first to receive laptops as part of this donation

100 laptops have been donated to pupils to support Tower Hamlets’ Connecting Communities project, a cross-sector partnership aimed at tackling the digital divide in the borough. Pupils at Stebon Primary School were the first to receive their laptops.

The laptops were donated by XMA, an IT solutions provider, and the eligible recipient families were identified by local schools who then requested the laptops through the Connecting Communities partnership.

The Connecting Communities partnership was formed in Spring 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on a digital divide and the effects of digital exclusion on low-income communities and vulnerable residents in Tower Hamlets. The partnership includes Tower Hamlets Council, East End Community Foundation, social housing provider Poplar HARCA and education provider, the Letta Trust. Each partner contributed seed funding and time to get the project up and running.

The partnership project identifies digitally disadvantaged families to provide children with a laptop and the family with a good digital connection alongside support and training. Families who receive a device are connected to high-speed broadband, which is free for at least 12 months. They also receive a seven-step training programme to ensure they know how to use their device, to ensure online safety, to enable access to educational resources and their GP and to ensure they know how to manage their finances online.

358 digital devices have been distributed to families through the scheme to date, and the laptops from XMA will be distributed over the next month.

With support from partners, the council aspires for every child in the borough to get both the kit and connectivity they need to access online learning.

Akifa Karim, Year 3, with mum, receiving laptop

James Thomas and Jeremy Iver presenting laptop to Akifa Karim, Year 3, and mum

Tahmid Aayan, Year 2 (7)

Tahmid Aayan, Year 2, receiving his laptop

Alejandro Guerrero Avalos, Year 3, with brother, mum and dad

Alejandro Guerrero Avalos, Year 3, receiving his laptop with mum, dad and brother

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “We want to bridge the digital divide in Tower Hamlets. Having access to digital devices and connectivity improves children's digital skills and confidence to use the internet, which has a positive impact on their learning experiences. Thank you to XMA for their generous donation, and to the Connecting Communities partnership for their continuous commitment to the project.”

Jeremy Iver, Headteacher at Stebon Primary School, said: 'It's great to be working through Connecting Communities once again in our continued effort to make sure that no child is digitally disadvantaged. We're so grateful to XMA for this latest donation of laptops. With the training that comes with them, these machines really do make a huge difference to the families we serve.'

Andrew Wright, Commercial Director at XMA, said: “XMA are delighted to have played a small part in supporting Tower Hamlets Council in making technology accessible to a wider audience. We all have an important part to play in supporting people in any way we can.” 

Allan Anderson, Head of Grants at East End Community Foundation, said: “The Connecting Communities partnership to close the digital divide has a direct impact on children’s education and their whole family’s life chances. These generously donated laptops, together with a year’s free internet access, means children can benefit from all the online educational resources they couldn’t access otherwise. We know that teachers see a rapid growth in children’s confidence. Parents and carers’ stress levels are reduced, as it makes booking doctors’ appointments, paying bills, accessing benefits and employment opportunities much easier.”

Posted on Wednesday 25th January 2023