Thu, 25 Feb 2021

At BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, we’re committed to making a positive impact within our local communities.

Over the past year, young people across the nation have been impacted by the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. This has forced schools to switch to remote learning, bringing digital poverty into sharp focus.

Tackling this issue locally, we’re donating 100 laptops to schools across Birmingham through the Birmingham Education Partnership (BEP), to help support students of all ages with home learning. 

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, BEP has joined forces with other like-minded organisations to form the Digital Education Partnership (DEP). This newly launched project is working with schools and Early Help Hubs across Birmingham to help families most in need of digital access, by giving laptops to families as well as helping them get online.

We sat down with the charity’s representatives, to talk about how the project is planning on reconnecting young people to their education and how donations like ours will make a difference.

With more and more parents being furloughed or made redundant, a significant number of young people are finding themselves with limited (or no) access to the internet at home. The significant impact this has on their education puts many students at risk of being left behind.

John Garrett, director of operations at Birmingham Education Partnership, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digitalisation faster than any of us could’ve ever anticipated, and this will undoubtedly lead to a more permanent shift in learning styles – even after this crisis has ended.”

A survey carried out by BEP in March 2020 revealed that an estimated 5,000 students across Birmingham live without devices or connectivity to the internet – and they charity believes this number has increased dramatically over the last year. 

The ongoing need for connectivity will reach far beyond the academic year, and its vital to keep young people connected with their peers and help prepare them for the world of work.

Manjit Shellis, Wider Learning Lead at BEP, commented: “Extreme isolation and lack of connectivity is having a detrimental effect on young people’s mental wellbeing.”

The Digital Education Partnership has set a goal of distributing 1,000 devices to schools across Birmingham before the end of the academic year.

So far, they have distributed 350 laptops to local schools and helped hundreds of children get online by providing them with WIFI access. Over the coming weeks, the charity is set to send out 400 more devices – which includes our donation of 100 laptops.

Jayne Licari, head of brand and external communications at BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, said: “Bridging the gap between education and youth unemployment by helping young people to acquire valuable life skills is at the heart of what we stand for as a business.

“Without access to the technology they need to support home learning, the risk of disadvantaged students slipping through the cracks is higher than ever before.

“That’s why we’re encouraging other businesses, and individuals, to join us in donating their unwanted devices, to help students stay connected during this challenging time.”

John added: “While we can’t solve Birmingham’s digital poverty gap overnight, every device donated will make a huge difference to a child looking to reconnect with their peers, school and education.

“We’re so grateful to BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK and everyone who’s supported us so far, and we look forward to continuing to work together to tackle digital poverty across the region.”

For more information on how you can get involved and help end digital poverty for young people across the region, click here.