Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2021
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Here at Trads we pride ourselves on the quality of our products, however, that’s not all that we have to be proud of. We believe in giving back to the community, so when our employee, Jeremy Dent, approached us with the idea of founding a charity we were immediately onboard.
Lockdown saw schools having to close their doors to students, leaving classes to be taught online. This meant pupils and teachers had to quickly understand new technology, find a suitable place to work from and adjust to this new dynamic. This huge shift was difficult for all involved, but was most problematic for those students who did not readily have access to a laptop, tablet or computer.
Over the years, access to a computer and the internet has moved from being a luxury to being a practical necessity. The pandemic left us in a situation in which children without these essentials were unable to receive their education.
The Digital Divide
The digital divide refers to the gap between those who have easy access to the Internet and those who do not. Covid exacerbated this issue, putting the ‘have-nots’ at a considerable disadvantage.
There are significant correlations between the digital divide in the UK and region, age, disability and socioeconomic status. This shows frequently that those individuals and families most affected by this issue may already be considered vulnerable.
The digital divide does not only have a negative impact upon education, it also hampers access to support services, welfare activities and medical appointments. Furthermore, it augments the risk of those who are less computer-literate becoming victims of fraud, computer viruses and the spread of misinformation.
As an attempt to counteract these problems, the Government introduced a ‘skills toolkit’. This is an online learning platform that can be accessed for free and is designed to teach basic computer skills. Whilst theoretically a beneficial tool, there is a clear flaw in this.
An Introduction To Re-Tech
A survey conducted by Ofcom between January and March 2020 found that 9% of households with children did not have access to a computer, laptop or tablet.
Realising the damage that this lack of what has effectively become a necessity could do, Jeremy Dent came to us with the suggestion of aiding him in the establishment of the charity Re-Tech.
This organisation would work to collect donated laptops, refurbish them and gift them to schools to distribute to low income families, thereby ensuring children could attend online classes.
Upon receipt of their laptop, children would also be given a certificate of refurbishment, which essentially works as a warranty.
The laptops were set up with an operating system called ‘Cloud Ready’. Whilst very similar to Chrome, this system works better for older models, ensuring that despite their age they can run efficiently. It was evidenced that this worked successfully when presented to a headteacher who was ‘gobsmacked’ by the speed of these refurbished laptops.
Establishing The Charity
Jeremy Dent approached Brian Athey (Operations Director) with the idea of setting up Re-Tech, and whilst they both felt that it was a wonderful idea, making it a reality was going to be a more difficult task.
Rather than trying to rely on donations from other businesses, Brian decided to source some laptops himself. Trads’ laptops were the first donated, allowing the charity to ensure that they could wipe and upgrade them effectively.
From humble beginnings at Trads, this charity has now successfully gathered, repaired, updated and distributed laptops to over 700 families!
This has not only been life-changing for the children who received them, but has helped their entire households too.
An Ongoing Problem
The digital divide was a problem before Covid and will continue to be afterwards - the pandemic just highlighted it. The issue is not just about having access to Zoom classes whilst schools are closed. This type of material deprivation withholds access to additional online resources, extracurricular activities and peer socialisation.
The correlation between low socioeconomic status and educational underachievement is well established, and the digital divide exacerbates this. Re-Tech is transforming the lives of young children who are otherwise at risk of slipping through the cracks.
Visit the Re-Tech website to learn more about this problem, the charity and how you can help. Whether you’re a school or business with laptops to donate, or an individual able to contribute through GoFundMe or easyfundraising, Re-Tech will greatly appreciate whatever you can give, as will we.
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