Free laptops given to 'digitally excluded' schoolchildren in Milton Keynes

A school and community centre has been presented with 35 devices

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 10:43 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 10:44 am

Pupils at Fishermead's Jubilee Wood Primary School have been given 30 new laptops to help them learn.

The devices were donated by Circular Computers through Veritas Digital Services' Laptops4learning scheme, tackles digital inequality by the repair and reuse of surplus technology.

At a celebration breakfast organised by Citizens:mk and hosted by Fishermead Trinity Community Centre, MK Mayor Mohammed Khan presented community leaders with 35 laptops in all.

MK Mayor Mohammed Khan and Heinz Elbers

Five of them will be used to start an internet café at the Fishermead Trinity Centre.

This initiative follows a listening campaign involving 61 residents. Some 41% of them said they had trouble accessing the internet and 59% said they would use the internet cafe.

A survey of school pupils showed 114 pupils cannot access devices at home for school work.

“What we have received will make a huge difference to them,” said head teacher Matt O’Brien. "It's good to work alongside others who take pride in the community and want to make it as good as possible for our children."

Local resident Ophelia Cole, Chair of Trinity Centre Management Committee, who has been trained by Citizens:mk, said: “I strongly believe in working with institutions who contribute towards developing residents and changing the negative press about Fishermead.

"It is my hope that this centre will one day become the hub where all residents meet to support and encourage

each other, where those who are strong give a helping hand to those who are struggling.”

The event was also attended by Debbie Gockelen, Assistant Principal of MK Academy secondary school, who said: “Our work with the community through Citizens:mk has encouraged active citizenship and empowered our students to make a difference in their communities. It’s good to be here and see other schools getting together to support digital inclusion.”

Sue Gowling, founder of Veritas Digital Services, said: “We set up Laptops4learning back at the start of the pandemic to get sustainable, affordable tech and donations out to those in need. We are delighted to be able to help the Fishermead community and look forward to extending our work with Citizens:MK and Citizens UK”.

Rev Ian Herbert, a Trinity Centre trustee, said: “We need to reach out to residents who are digitally excluded. Working together with schools, faith and other community groups, we can.”