Funding boosts digital device support
January 22, 2021
Much-needed digital equipment is being rolled out across the county thanks to funding secured through the North of Tyne Combined Authority.
Over £200,000 has been secured to ensure people in care homes, those in employment support programmes, further or higher education and school children who have been disadvantaged due to Covid-19 receive a digital device to help them connect with friends and family, learn or to simply get online.
Councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, Northumberland County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children’s Services said: “We have already seen some of our youngest residents receive digital devices thanks to Department for Education funding, that has made a huge difference to those children – the way they learn and connect. But this additional funding will mean so many more children and young people have access to devices – and that is our aim, to support as many children and young people through their learning journey as possible!”
Over 200 devices have already been rolled out to those in education and employment support programmes to date – 122 of which have been given specifically to children and young people in schools and learning from home. Plans are also in place to deliver devices to those in need in care homes over the coming weeks.
One of Northumberland’s young carers said: “The chance to loan a Chromebook would benefit me lots! It would be great for me to do my homework on and contact my friends.’
This year has encouraged more people to move online and to use digital devices in order to stay connected, learn, shop, work and even attend appointments. The more people who have access to these opportunities the better – both emotionally and mentally.
Councillor Veronica Jones, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Adult Wellbeing said: “This funding will make a difference to a lot of people’s social and emotional wellbeing and lives in general. Many of our care home residents have been disconnected from their family and friends and this will help them to reconnect and see those loved ones they have longed to see. But it will also support those adults who have found themselves in employment programmes due to the pandemic, or those trying to further themselves in education.
“I am so pleased that we are able to help residents in this way. We as a council are committed to providing what support we can during this difficult time, and this is another way in which we are able to do that.”
The North of Tyne Combined Authority partners Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle together to help narrow inequalities, create vibrant communities and provide a higher quality of life for all.
Cllr Joyce McCarty, Cabinet Member for Employability and Inclusion at the North of Tyne Combined Authority Clr Joyce McCarty said: “Giving young people the tools and support to gain new skills has never been so important.
“Initiatives like this will make such a difference to young people and we were delighted to be able to provide laptops and connectivity, which for some will be life-changing.
“Through the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s Digital Inclusion Fund, we aim to support digitally disadvantaged people who because of COVID-19 have been unable to access skills or training, due to buildings being closed and the lack of face-to-face provision.
“The success of these schemes like this will create a better future for young people and help us to shape a more skilled and inclusive economy.”