Digital Futures was delivered in partnership with Westminster City Council to tackle digital exclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown from March 2020.
Face-to-face service provision stopped or was minimised and services, education and opportunities were provided online for children.
Digital inclusion is a minimum and basic requirement to experience equal opportunities. Digitally excluded young people lack voice and visibility in society. 9% of UK families do not have a laptop, desktop or tablet at home.
A device for young people with no device or a shared device enables them to:
- Take part in school
- Develop digital skills
- Improve chances of finding work
- Enable a sense of belonging
The project specifically targeted children and young people eligible for Free School Meals. Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds were already twice as likely to leave formal education without GCSEs in English and Maths compared to their better off classmates. The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the education and future life chances of these same pupils as schooling moved online.
Through Digital Futures, we worked with Westminster schools, alongside wider youth organisations and care leavers. This supplemented wider support schemes run by Westminster City Council and the Department for Education. At close, the project had allocated 1874 devices through 47 schools, 2 supplementary schools, 3 youth clubs and to 10 care leavers. A total of 5565 devices have been distributed to children and young people across Westminster through the support from Westminster City Council, the Department for Education and our corporate partners.
We are grateful to funding provided by Westminster City Council, initiated by Councillor Tim Barnes (Cabinet Member for Younger People and Learning) Westminster City Council set an ambitious goal for all children who needed a device to have one and be able to access the internet. This goal was achieved through meeting all requests for devices.
Digital Futures also raised £43,000 in corporate donations which contributed to the procurement of devices for the project. We would like to thank all businesses from whom who we received generous financial contributions:
This was alongside support from individual givers, who donated a total of £1,184 via our LocalGiving fundraising page.
Thank you also to Dragon Rouge, Vodafone Foundation, Bougues, Ognisko and For People who donated devices.
This is a brilliant example of what can be achieved through a cross-sector strategic partnership in Westminster.
Read our Digital Futures Impact Report to find out more.