Ofcom estimated that there were up to 1.78 million children in the UK with no home access to a laptop, desktop or tablet and whilst the Government pledged to provide support to meet this need there were significant gaps due to limited resources and strict eligibility criteria. This meant that many of our beneficiaries who did not meet the criteria missed out. Architectural professionals with children, now largely working from home were also facing the prospect of sharing a device with their children. This situation was more acute where there was more than one child.
The ABS Welfare Team came up with the idea of offering support with the cost of a basic laptop as well as connectivity costs as a means of helping existing beneficiaries to overcome practical and financial barriers to online learning. We also felt that by supporting children to learn at home in this way, for however long teaching remained online we could do our bit to address digital exclusion amongst our beneficiary families. We needed to respond quickly to a situation which had the potential to be extended from a few weeks to a few months with the risk of this impacting on children’s long-term education and life chances.