St John C of E Primary School

More than 15 families, schools and organisations have been given the gift of connectivity this Christmas as the first set of laptops from newly formed ‘Wiltshire Digital Drive’ have been distributed.

Since becoming a Community Interest Company, and with thanks to donations from members of the public, local businesses and funding from the Wiltshire Community Foundation and Mogers Drewitt Solicitors, Wiltshire Digital Drive has approved 26 applications for technology to support young people and adults in the county who cannot afford to buy their own.

St John’s C of E Primary School in Tisbury were one of the successful applicants and Lisa Beavis, school business manager, said: “We have a number of very low-income families who simply cannot afford to buy laptops for their children to use. On-line learning is now a vital part of children’s education, from homework to accessing work if a family is isolating.”

With the very real possibility of a further lockdown in the new year, Wiltshire Digital Drive is preparing to help even more people in 2021 and were awarded a grant from The National Lottery’s Community Fund last month to support this.

Natalie Sherman, co-director of Wiltshire Digital Drive, explains that this latest grant will go towards refurbishing the next set of donated laptops and will ensure they are secure for use. The non-profit organisation is asking that those fortunate enough to receive a new laptop or tablet this Christmas consider donating their old ones to the cause.

And it’s not just schools that have been helped by the scheme. The Richard Fellowship, who help people with mental health recovery and social inclusion were awarded 5 machines to complement a programme of work they are doing to support people across digital platforms and social networks.

Jonathan Baker, service manager, said: “Richmond Fellowship are very grateful to have received the donation of IT equipment from the Wiltshire Digital Drive. It is a great initiative of recycling and donating computer equipment that they are undertaking and fits perfectly with our ethos. The equipment will be a great resource for our Digital Inclusion programme and help those facing mental health challenges find some real benefits”

The next round of applications open on January 4, 2021 and more information can be found on the website, Twitter @WiltsDigiDrive or Facebook

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