The United Kingdom
Supporting students in the UK
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the digital divide that exists in the UK. Lockdowns and home-schooling have brought a new sense of urgency to ensuring that every student gets the opportunity for a digitally-enabled education. With the support of our generous donors we are supporting students’ access to the IT equipment they need to succeed.
Since the onset of the pandemic we’ve donated hundreds of laptops to students across the UK. Yet there are still many more people who need further help. We have been inundated with requests for more support, so if you or your organisation might have any IT equipment to donate please do get in touch.
Recently we have supported several UK schools and organisations with IT equipment to help their students through lockdown and beyond. Here we have highlighted a few of the responses we have had from some of the recipients of the computers that have been generously donated by individuals and companies over the last year. They leave us in no doubt just how vital these donations are.
Some of the schools who have received equipment include Gumley House School and St Vincent’s School – A Specialist School for Sensory Impairment and Other Needs.
We have also been been honoured to support NHS service users with IT equipment so they could access vital mental health services during lockdown.
One recipient, Anna, told us about the difference the donation of a laptop had made to her:
Another recipient, Samantha mentioned how the laptop had enabled here to start studying Social Work at college.
Likewise, working with our local Midlothian Council we have been able to support Job Centre Plus clients with equipment to help job seeking and improving digital skills during lockdowns and beyond. Their comments also make us realise how important donations of laptops can be:
Colin, who also received a laptop, highlighted the importance of the connectivity it had brought him, enabling him apply for a few jobs and get back into work.
Furthermore, at the QED Foundation the donated laptops are supporting disadvantaged ethnic minority men and women across Bradford District to deliver English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), health and well-being, IT, employability, literacy, numeracy, citizenship, orientation and integration provision. Most QED learners are digitally excluded as they have minimal or no access to an IT device of any type at home and no access to the internet. Lockdown polarised the learners further as services moved increasingly online and led to isolation and loneliness of many Bradford ethnic minority communities. The older generation, already feeling isolated and distant from family and friends are particularly in need of the connectivity Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp and other platforms bring.
Laptops donated through The Turing Trust are being used throughout teaching sessions to support learning and develop essential IT skills. Each learner can now have their own device with software and educational apps so they can progress at their own pace. Initially, the focus has been on supporting learners to navigate their way around the devices, develop key board familiarity, set up an email address, open-up and use Apps to develop English language skills. Tutors are using the laptops for programme delivery. The social impact of mastering even basic digital skills has provided a newfound sense of worth and wellbeing. Learners report feeling more confident, engaged and included. There is an excitement about accessing information for the first time independently and attendance is more consistent.
Lastly, we have been particularly pleased to support Care4Calais by providing laptops to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, enabling them to continue their education. One recipient said:
All of this builds on how we have previously supported local UK-based organisations with ICT equipment. For example, we were delighted to support Code Your Future with a donation of laptops. Code Your Future is a fantastic organisation “supporting refugees with the dream of becoming developers.”
Training at Our Workshop
Every PC we put into a school is wiped, repaired and loaded with offline educational resources in the UK. This work is done by our fantastic team of dedicated volunteers in Edinburgh.
We have been working with volunteers for over a decade and have dozens of people from our local community complete our courses in IT maintenance and repair through over 10,000 hours of training activities each year. We have an ongoing relationship with the Department for Work and Pensions who recommend us to interested candidates, enabling us to support our local community through training and the provision of employable skills. Through this experience, we’ve built our understanding of what our volunteers need and have continuously improved our training to reflect this and provide as much local benefit as possible.
Typically, our trainees find out about us at the JobCentre Plus and come from a range of backgrounds. In the last few years these have included; the long-term unemployed, vulnerable adults, those experiencing homelessness, individuals who have suffered serious illness, refugees and asylum seekers, those who have a mental or physical disability and military veterans. Our training is not entirely IT focused and includes softer skills such as communication, building professional networks, teamwork, problem solving, the ability to work under pressure and time management. All of this skill building comes together to increase our UK trainees’ employability.
Our volunteering programme has been designed to make sure that everyone is welcome. On average we have over 100 individual volunteers each year with a vast range of skill sets. These volunteers include a wide representation from people working at renowned companies in Edinburgh’s thriving tech industry as well as retired people or students looking for work experience. We treat each trainee as an individual, and we tailor our approach to their technical ability and confidence level. We deliver as much training as is needed to get our volunteers up to a level where they can work on donated IT equipment. We encourage trainees to work together to solve problems, learning from each other helping to build our local tech community.
Andrew, one of our volunteers secured a job as a Systems Test Engineer at a local networking company after completing our training courses.
He told us:
“The opportunity at the Turing Trust to get plenty of hands-on experience as well as working with such a great range of varied ICT equipment meant that I was exposed to a vast amount of project work where our environment helped to facilitate learning by doing.”
He also appreciated the opportunity to excel as our varied projects enabled him to rapidly take on new responsibilities.
Our community-owned, off-grid computer laboratory powered by solar energy and with low energy Raspberry Pi computers.
Our current focus is in Malawi where we are work the Centre for Youth and Development, to provide technology-enabled education.
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