We’re working to end digital exclusion in Westminster. Support us and help keep young people connected to their future.
An estimated 9% of families in the UK do not have a laptop, desktop or tablet at home. This digital divide is not new, but during the coronavirus pandemic its implications have been particularly stark. Thousands of young people and families in Westminster are without access to a device or reliable internet connection to engage with online learning and services.
The digital divide doesn’t just mean lacking access to the internet, but the ability to pay for it. For communities who live on a low income the choice between an internet connection and basic necessities is a common and uncomfortable choice to have to make for their families.
The Digital Futures project will tackle digital exclusion in Westminster through an ambitious partnership between local charities, businesses and schools aiming to provide devices and connectivity to communities impacted by coronavirus. Our goal is to ensure that no young person in Westminster goes without having access to a computer at home and a stable internet connect to inspire their learning and development.
Young Westminster Foundation are working with local businesses, generous individuals and other key partners to fundraise over the next four months to fund phase one of the project. Westminster City Council has ringfenced initial funding from Section 106 to fund Phase One which will make 750 devices available for young people.
Schools in Westminster will be able to apply to the scheme on behalf of the young people they work with. Later phases of the project will aim to distribute more devices to young people as well as to older residents and connect them to the internet.
As part of the project, Young Westminster Foundation and Westminster City Council will provide broadband connectivity for one year to accompany the devices where needed. This builds upon Westminster City Council’s campaign to bring superfast fibre broadband to Westminster residents.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the life of every young person and family in Westminster. Young lives have been impacted at crucial stages of education and transition. The impact on young people likely to be intense and long lasting, especially for the most vulnerable.
A recent study from the University of Cambridge found that the pandemic risks turning the problem of digital exclusion into a catastrophe of lost education and opportunity for the UK’s poorest and most vulnerable. With school work and youth services increasingly moving online during this pandemic, proper access to the internet is not a luxury, but a necessity for Westminster’s young people. It is the same as not having a book or a pen.
Funding for 750 devices has been secured but we estimate that 3,800 devices are needed to close the digital gap for young people in Westminster.
An investment of £250 provides approximately 1 device with broadband connection and a contribution to ongoing training and support.
An investment of £1,500 provides approximately 6 devices with broadband connection and a contribution to ongoing training and support.
An investment of £5,000 provides approximately 20 devices with broadband connection and a contribution to ongoing training and support.
Any amount of investment you can offer will help connect a young person to their future and help to bridge the digital divide in Westminster.