Laptop campaign passes target with 5,300 collected for children in need

Mathew Boomer from Norfolk County Council handing over some laptops to Jackie Appleby, business mana

Mathew Boomer from Norfolk County Council handing over some laptops to Jackie Appleby, business manager at Open Academy in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

A campaign aiming to make sure children across Norfolk can learn online has passed its goal, with more than 5,300 devices donated.

The Every Child Online campaign, run by this newspaper alongside Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk Community Foundation (NCF), has collected 5,343 laptops for children across the county who are unable to access online learning in the pandemic.

As many as 4,057 devices have been delivered to children, with the final deliveries being carried out this week.

Mathew Boomer from Norfolk County Council handing over some laptops to Ben Lynch, IT manager at Open

Mathew Boomer from Norfolk County Council handing over some laptops to Ben Lynch, IT manager at Open Academy in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

When the campaign was originally launched it was thought that 6,000 laptops were required, however Norfolk schools requested 4,521, with the Norfolk Assistance Scheme requesting 607 devices. The total collected has surpassed those needed.

David Powles, editor of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, said: "I'm overwhelmed and delighted at how quickly people and firms have mobilised to respond to this call-to-arms.

"While home schooling may be about to end, this campaign was about much more than just giving a child access to a computer for a few weeks - the benefit of them becoming connected will be long-lasting.

"I'd like to thank everyone for the part they have played in making this campaign a success."

Tom Fitzpatrick, cabinet member for innovation, transformation and performance at Norfolk County Council, said: “The success of this campaign is a testament to the generosity of the people, organisations and businesses of Norfolk.

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"It was not an easy task we were presented with but, in just one month, donations have ensured that no child in the county will be at a digital disadvantage.

Ben Lynch, IT manager at Open Academy in Norwich, with one of the laptops from Norfolk County Counci

Ben Lynch, IT manager at Open Academy in Norwich, with one of the laptops from Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Danielle Booden

"Officers at County Hall have done an amazing job in getting devices out to those who really need them.

“It has been a pleasure to work with both the NCF and the Eastern Daily Press on this campaign.

"A huge thank you to everyone who helped spread the word about the need for devices here in Norfolk and of course, a particular thanks to everyone who donated devices and money.”

Mathew Boomer delivering laptops from Norfolk County Council to Ben Lynch, IT manager, and Jackie Ap

Mathew Boomer delivering laptops from Norfolk County Council to Ben Lynch, IT manager, and Jackie Appleby, business manager, at Open Academy in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

What happens next?

The campaign is now moving its attention to ensuring every child also has access to the internet for their digital device by raising funds to purchase MiFi dongles which will connect students with their teachers.

Schools and charities have indicated that 1,029 children are currently without internet access in Norfolk.

So far Every Child Online has purchased 540 dongles, with 63 already in the hands of pupils.

Jackie Appleby, business manager at Open Academy in Norwich, with one of the laptops from Norfolk Co

Jackie Appleby, business manager at Open Academy in Norwich, with one of the laptops from Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Danielle Booden

One donation which will be helping towards the MiFi devices is from Sheringham Shoal windfarm which has donated £25,000 to the campaign from its community fund.

Power plant manager Karl Butler said he decided to donate the money to the campaign after homeschooling his own two children.

He said: "With two young children of my own, I understand the challenges and difficulties which families have endured this last twelve months across the UK.

"I am therefore delighted that we are able to support the Every Child Online campaign, helping improve access for children to education."

The fund, which totals £100,000 per year, has donated £880,000 to more than 90 projects in north Norfolk since its establishment in 2010. 

Karl Butler, power plant manager at Sheringham Shoal windfarm.

Karl Butler, power plant manager at Sheringham Shoal windfarm. - Credit: Equinor


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