Campaign hopes to 'plug the gap' with laptops for school leavers

Claire Cullens, chief executive of the Norfolk Community Foundation. Photo: Norfolk Community Founda

Claire Cullens, chief executive of the Norfolk Community Foundation. Photo: Norfolk Community Foundation - Credit: Norfolk Community Foundation

A new campaign has been unveiled to support young people who have left school and are unable to get online to look for jobs or find support.

The Plug the Gap campaign, launched by Norfolk Community Foundation (NCF), alongside Candour and Osiris Technologies, will focus on raising funds to provide internet access and digital devices to young people who are not in school.

Plug the Gap follows the Every Child Online campaign which NCF has been running, alongside this newspaper and Norfolk County Council, to help disadvantaged children gain access to online learning by asking for laptop donations or funds to purchase digital equipment.

The foundation estimates that although 6,000 Norfolk pupils are without access to a laptop for home schooling, a further 700 16 to 17 year-olds who have left school are also unable to access the internet to hunt for jobs or get vital support.

NCF chief executive Claire Cullens said: "The Every Child Online campaign focuses very much on schools, but what we realise is that while it covers most young people, there is still a group of people that wouldn't be covered by that.


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"This is because they've left school or they're trying to go on to further education but are currently outside the school system.

"We're aiming to raise funds to get laptops to these people, who will be identified by charities and youth groups who are part of the Norman Lamb Coalition.

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"Everything in this world right now, if you haven't got digital access you can't do stuff and these people are likely to not have the funds and support needed to do that, so it literally is plugging the gap.

"It's not just connecting them to work and learning, it's connecting them to support services, somebody who is receiving counselling won't be able to receive it if they haven't got a device."

John Skinner, creative director of Candour said: “After speaking to Osiris Technologies, it quickly became apparent there are a large number of children and young people who do not qualify for Government support as they are not currently in school.

"When we became aware of the issues, we were keen to help.

"We have already raised £6500 in the first week of the appeal but welcome more donations, however small or big, to help our charity partners reach those falling through the gaps.”

Phillip Roffe, managing director of Osiris Technologies added: “We are delighted to be involved in this campaign which will have an effect far beyond the current Lockdown period.

"We are looking to donate brand new laptops as this means we can get laptops into homes faster without the need for reconditioning.

"Also, the recipients are pleased to receive something that isn’t second hand which has sadly become normality for them.”

To donate to the Plug the Gap campaign visit the NCF's website.

Those wishing to donate equipment to the Every Child Online campaign should email devices@norfolk.gov.uk.

To donate funds visit www.norfolkfoundation.com/every-child-online/


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