Over the past year, the enforced national lockdowns associated with COVID-19 have thrown a spotlight on a number of social inequalities that exist within our communities. Most recently has been the issue of the ‘digital divide’.

With children and young people having to learn from home and access online lessons and resources, the need for technology such as laptops and tablets has been vital. However, an estimated 1.8 million students simply do not have access to these sorts of devices and the educational gulf between those who ‘have’ and those who ‘have not’ is increasing. In a recent study it was shown that children who did not have access to remote learning devices during the lockdown period, fell behind in their studies by 6 months, compared to those who had a device. Predictions are that the situation is only going to worsen with the Education Endowment Foundation estimating that the attainment gap could widen by as much as 75% due to school closures.

In collaboration with several corporate partners, the Saracens Foundation will be delivering unused and professionally wiped laptops and tablets to children and young people across North London and Hertfordshire through schools, pupil referral units and community groups in order to support and improve the quality of their virtual learning experience.

The campaign is supported by Saracens and England player Maro Itoje who has expressed his deep concern for those children affected by the digital divide, he said “It is often said you judge a society on how they treat the vulnerable. Recent lockdowns have widened and exacerbated the negative consequences of the digital divide for the most vulnerable children in our society. This could potentially have real worrying ramifications on their life chances and the gap between the haves and have not will widen considerably if nothing is done to address this problem. The digital Divide in this country poses a real threat to our children and together we must do all we can to help these children”

We are therefore requesting that any unused devices which have been wiped and cleared of all private or sensitive information and would be serviceable and useable for young people across our community are donated to the Saracens Foundation Digital Divide Campaign. For further information about the campaign or to arrange for a donation please contact tomasgamage@saracens.net