Mail Force’s drive to get schoolchildren online shifted up a gear yesterday with a sensational donation from Dixons Carphone.
The retailer offered 1,000 ‘top spec’ laptops worth £380,000.
Dixons Carphone said it was delighted to pledge the nearly new devices to help youngsters struggling to follow online classes during lockdown.
All the machines, from well-known brands such as HP and Acer, were originally on sale through the firm’s Currys PC World outlets.
They have now been refurbished at its repair centre, and will go on to be completely wiped by Mail Force’s IT partner and rebuilt for the classroom.
Mail Force’s Laptop for Kids campaign has received a donation of 1,000 computers from Dixons Carphone. Alex Baldock, chief executive of Dixons Carphone, said: ‘If all kids are to have big opportunities in life, all must have access to technology’
The company – formed from a combination of Currys PC World, Carphone Warehouse and Dixons – is the latest household name to throw its weight behind the Mail’s Computers for Kids campaign.
Since it launched less than two weeks ago, some of Britain’s leading big firms have given thousands of used laptops, which for around £15 can be securely repurposed for home schooling.
And the money to fund this task is rolling in – much of it from retired teachers and grandparents determined to do their bit to fix the ‘digital divide’.
A third of UK families say they do not have enough devices for their children to be able to follow online lessons.
The Daily Mail is raising money for Mail Force, the charity created last year to help acquire PPE for frontline workers, which is now pledging to get laptops to children rapidly.
Readers have responded magnificently to the challenge, along with some extremely generous philanthropists.
Last night the total donated so far stood at just under £7million – raised in only 12 days.
It will enable Mail Force to significantly ramp up the provision of laptop computers to lockdown pupils, as well as helping them get online in other ways, such as through deals for cheap data.
The Government is supplying 1.3million computers, and the Mail Force laptops, which will include new devices, are on top of that.
Last night Alex Baldock, chief executive of Dixons Carphone, said: ‘If all kids are to have big opportunities in life, all must have access to technology. That has never been more important than now, in lockdown.
The donation has come as sporting legends, including England cricket captain Joe Root, lent their support to the campaign. Last night the total donated so far stood at just under £7million – raised in only 12 days
‘At Dixons Carphone, we are determined to help everyone make the most of amazing technology, which is why we’re proud to back the Mail’s brilliant Computers for Kids campaign.’
On top of its donation to Mail Force, the firm is giving £1million to support disadvantaged pupils, parents and teachers through the Digital Poverty Alliance, an initiative it helped set up.
Dixons Carphone joins Lloyds, Santander, Sainsbury’s, Camelot, Boohoo and The Hut Group in leading the charge to help Mail Force.
England cricket captain’s bowled over… along with Olympic stars
England cricket captain Joe Root and three Olympic gold medallists have united behind the Computers for Kids campaign.
The sporting heroes urged readers to support the ‘absolutely vital’ drive to get computers to pupils in lockdown.
Root, man of the series as he hit a double century to lead his country to a 2-0 win in Sri Lanka last month, said it is ‘essential that no child is left behind’ while schools are closed to most pupils.
The Yorkshire cricketer, who is preparing to take on India in a four-Test series starting in Chennai tomorrow, said: ‘Hopefully, as a result, every child will have access to a laptop or computer at home, whilst our schools remain closed. I would like to urge everyone to do whatever they can to back this campaign.’
Dame Kelly Holmes, who won two gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, has thrown her support behind the campaign
Dame Kelly Holmes a double Olympic gold medal winner in the 800m and 1500m at Athens in 2004, said that laptops play a key role in maintaining both the mental and physical health of the nation’s youth.
The runner, who leads the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, which seeks to help disadvantaged youngsters, said: ‘Digital poverty is a huge issue still in this country and unless it is addressed, there could be a large digital divide that could have a profound impact on this generation of young people.
‘That is why I’m supporting the Daily Mail campaign to get laptops out to the 1.78million disadvantaged children who are having difficulty home schooling during lockdown.’
Team GB’s most successful gymnast Max Whitlock praised the ‘brilliant campaign,’ saying it would make a ‘big difference to a lot of children’
Sir Ben Ainslie, the most successful sailor in Olympic history with four golds and a silver, praised the ‘brilliant and important campaign,’ adding ‘it will help to ensure pupils across the UK have access to much-needed IT devices to learn’
Max Whitlock, Britain’s most successful gymnast, described how he had seen the challenges posed by home schooling through the experiences of his four nieces and nephews.
Praising the ‘brilliant campaign’, Whitlock, who has won two gold and three bronze Olympic medals, said: ‘This campaign is going to make a big difference to a lot of children. No child should ever be restricted when it comes to their education.’
Sir Ben Ainslie, the most successful sailor in Olympic history with four golds and a silver, said: ‘Families are facing countless challenges at this difficult time, including insufficient access to IT devices for online learning.
‘The Daily Mail’s brilliant and important campaign will help to ensure pupils across the UK have access to much-needed IT devices to learn.’
HOW TO DONATE TO COMPUTERS FOR KIDS
TO YOU, THE READER: How to send us donations
The Daily Mail has launched a brand new campaign, Computers For Kids, to raise money for Mail Force – a charity which aims to provide much needed school equipment and resources for pupils across the UK learning from home.
With schools closed, we are left with the dilemma of hundreds of thousands of pupils in the UK having no access to a computer in their home.
As part of this campaign, companies are donating their old laptops which, for around £15, can be wiped, professionally refurbished and made safe and fit for home schooling. They can then be delivered to a child or young person who needs one.
In addition, the campaign is looking to support children’s needs in other ways such as funding brand new laptops and tablets, and assisting with data access and connectivity for online learning. Any surplus funds will be used to support of the work of UK schools via other means.
TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE
Visit mailforcecharity.co.uk/donate and follow the steps to complete your donation.
Please don’t send us your old device.
TO MAKE A DONATION VIA YOUR PHONE
To donate £10 – text KIDS10 to 70115
To donate £20 – text KIDS20 to 70115
TO COMPANIES: Could you give your old laptops?
Upgrading office computers is something all companies do from time to time – and there has never been a better time to donate old laptops. If you are a company with 50 laptops or more that you could give, please visit www.computacenter.com/daily-mail to check they are suitable and register your donation. We will arrange for collection by our specialist partners Computacenter. Please note: we cannot accept donated laptops from individuals.
COMPANIES SHOULD GO TO: computacenter.com/daily-mail
TO SCHOOLS: Where to apply for the computers
Schools must apply to the Department for Education, which is managing the demand and prioritising the schools most in need. The Mail Force initiative means more laptops will become available more quickly.
SCHOOLS CAN APPLY HERE: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk