The West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity (WLFC) has donated £23,000 to help fund the Lancaster and Morecambe Connecting Kids initiative. The initiative was established to ensure that during the COVID-19 pandemic, disadvantaged children across our region have access to the internet and digital devices, together with tailored tuition provided by 300 Lancaster University student mentors.
Schools have had to start operating digitally very quickly, but this has caused a real issue for the most vulnerable families in the community who do not have access to the internet via a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The pandemic has exposed a deep divide in our society between the haves and the have-nots. Many parents are struggling to provide food, having to rely on food banks, or afford credit for the electricity meter. They certainly cannot afford broadband and/or a computer. Their children statistically have poorer outcomes and are now falling further and further behind.
The aim of the project was to provide schools with laptops and a year of free Internet service for children in 472 of the poorest families in Lancaster and Morecambe. These computers are intended solely for use by children for educational purposes and have been set up so that access is limited to approved websites – Microsoft Office (or similar) and the school’s virtual learning environment.
A consortium of education providers across Lancaster and Morecambe, including Lancaster University, Lancaster & Morecambe College, Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership, local schools and Eden Project International, have come together with Lancaster City Council and businesses to develop the Connecting Kids initiative.
West Lancashire Freemasons have been recognised for their substantial financial donation, together with the Banks Lyon Memorial Trust, the Learning Foundation working in partnership with the National Grid, Vodafone, EDF, Santander Bank and Lancaster City Council.
The Connecting Kids initiative supports the government’s aim to provide technology to underprivileged young people.