Case Studies

The Challenge

The London borough of Lambeth has over 70 primary and secondary schools. In June 2020, as part of a UK Department of Education initiative to support home schooling, Lambeth Council delivered over a 1,000 laptops schools to boost online access amongst underprivileged children. However, this did not meet the demand and more support was needed. To date, Community TechAid has worked with over 25 schools in Lambeth to provide pupils with technology so they could continue their education online at home. 

 

Enabling Schools to Get Online

 

The shift to home learning has been a major challenge during the COVID19 pandemic. In Lambeth, there are many families who do not have the means to buy a laptop for their children to access lessons online. The need was not only to support academic work but also to gain access to libraries, online clubs and school team meetings, and youth support services. According to a survey by the Sutton Trust in April 2020, in the most deprived schools, 15% of teachers reported that more than a third of their students learning from home would not have adequate access to an electronic device for learning. In 12% of the most deprived schools, it was felt that more than a third of their students would have no adequate internet access to continue their studies. It was evident that more support was needed.     

Kingswood Primary School was one of many schools who had pupils unable to access online learning. Part of the Gipsy Hill Federation of six schools in Lambeth, south London, it has nearly 800 pupils  and moved to remote learning for its pupils as soon as the first lockdown was announced. 

The staff at the school had hoped that all its pupils could be linked to their ‘virtual classroom’. However, it became obvious that not all pupils had devices at home and for some, where they did, were accessing classes through their phones. 

 

What Community TechAid Did

 

Since the start of the COVID19 pandemic, Community TechAid has supported over 25 schools across Lambeth to get more pupils accessing online education. 

At Kingswood Primary School, over 160 pupils were without laptops or appropriate digital devices to access online learning. Requests came from families where they had no laptops, or multiple siblings were sharing one laptop for different classes. 

“We had so many requests, especially with families with multiple siblings…. Initially we weren't even able to support with offering all households a device, but Community TechAid's work has meant we can offer a device to all of our families.” 

(Quote from staff at Kingswood Primary School, April 2021)

 

Kingswood Primary School credits Community TechAid with bridging the gap between local authority support and demand from families in need. Lambeth Council has several technology support initiatives providing tablets, computers, or phones for pupils in the borough (see Lambeth Council website) but there is a limit to the resources it can provide. Working with Lambeth Council as well as handling requests directly through its own website, TechAid has been able to meet some of the extra demand. 

“Quite simply, entire families wouldn't have been able to access remote learning otherwise. The Department of Education gave us a small number of devices but ultimately, we relied on organisations like Community TechAid to bridge the gap so that children could continue to learn”.

(Quote from staff at Kingswood Primary School, April 2021)

Kingswood Primary School

 
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Age Uk Lambeth

The Challenge

 

There are nearly 12 million people in the UK aged 65 years and over, representing 18% of the total population. This age group is projected to rise to nearly 18 million by 2050; with those aged 85 and over expected to be the fastest growing sector. Many older people have experienced severe challenges during the Covid pandemic, related both to their physical and mental health and also to issues such as bereavement, loss of confidence and loneliness. 

In 2020, as most of the UK population moved their lives online, there were an estimated four million people over the age of 65 who had never used the internet. Many did not have a laptop or tablet or even the know how to get online. 

For the elderly, the lack of daily connection with friends and family risks exacerbating health, dementia, and loneliness. Many struggle to use the internet for daily tasks which have moved online such as shopping, accessing prescriptions, and doctors’ appointments. Staying in touch with relatives and friends in hospital or care homes become much more difficult. And, they not only missed daily connections with friends and family but also missed key milestones, such as birthdays or anniversaries. Being separated from friends and family has been especially distressing for those who are nearing the end of their life, fearing that they will spend the time they have left not being able to see or be connected to their loved ones.

Organisations like Age UK reported their community were understandably afraid of COVID19. And even when lockdown restrictions ease the impact is likely to remain. A significant proportion of older people will remain at or close to home, while those who will go out and about, are likely to stay overly cautious. Access to technology and the internet will therefore continue to be very important for this age group.

What Community TechAid Did

 

Since the start of the COVID19 pandemic, Community TechAid has worked with many organisations, like Age UK, to support their members with donations of devices like laptops and tablets so they are also able to get online.  

Age UK has received over 14 devices from Community TechAid to distribute to low-income elderly and disabled members of the community who have been self-isolating so that they could stay in touch with family & friends, receive prescription refills and order food. 

 

“There are so many ways the devices from Community TechAid are supporting our members. For example, one client has been able to video call her son who is in hospital at the minute, another has been able to have the pharmacist monitor their medication by video. One member is using their laptop to shop for their food online, making them much more independent as they currently can't leave the house.”

Age UK in Lambeth, April 2021

 

Community TechAid has not only supported Age UK members with donated devices but has also gone the extra mile with technology support who have health conditions such as senility, dementia, and arthritis where for example, using a phone for example, with smaller keys is much more challenging. Community TechAid has matched some of its volunteers directly with Age UK clients to support whatever unique needs they might have.