New scheme helps to ensure children have IT kit they need for homeschooling

ESSENTIAL IT equipment is helping children across Barrow to complete homeschooling thanks to a grant from Barrow Borough Council.

Laptops and Wifi access have been made available through a number of community organisations in the borough to remove barriers to learning during lockdown.

The cost of the technology - totalling £25,900 -  has come from the authority’s Covid-19 Hardship Fund to help ensure no child falls behind because of the pandemic.

Councillor Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “We know from the first lockdown that there was a real need for laptops and access to the internet so children can take part in homeschooling - including online lessons, work and activities. 

“Many families are experiencing financial hardship across the borough brought about by Covid-19 and this is a problem we know is growing starker by the week.

“We simply can’t allow the virus to restrict or negatively impact upon children’s learning. No-one should fall behind in their school work because the virus has adversely affected families across our area.

“I’m pleased we’ve been able to work with community organisations, schools and the college to make sure the equipment reaches those who need it.”

Barrow Borough Council set aside £250,000 of Government funding in June to create a Covid-19 Hardship Fund to address inequalities created or worsened across the area by the effects of coronavirus.

So far, it has funded a range of initiatives including meals, activities and support for children during school holidays, grants for school uniform and a crisis fund for residents in need of one-off financial assistance.

This latest scheme allows schools in the borough to refer families for a laptop or a WiFi dongle should they not have access at home.

It was created by Barrow Borough Council working with Drop Zone, Project John and Cumbria County Council. 

It is expected around 330 children will benefit from access to the new IT equipment.

Councillor Thomson added: “This is a great example of the needs of children, young people and families being placed at the heart of our work as a council.

“We’ll continue to do all we can to support our communities through this incredibly difficult time and to tackle the hardships Covid has exposed.”

Any families who are struggling to afford either laptops or WiFi connection for home schooling should speak to their school staff to request a referral into the scheme.