As disadvantaged families struggle to cover the costs of home-learning thrust upon them by the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the education sector, one charity is looking to rectify the issue by making efforts to close the digital divide.
The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the UK education sector is well-documented. Closures of British schools to all but pupils of NHS staff, other key workers and vulnerable children has seen cohorts of young learners of all ages forced to move their education into the confines of their home via electronic means.
However, these circumstances have only made clearer the sheer significance of the digital divide in the UK. According to several children’s charities, disadvantaged families are effectively being locked out of education since they are unable to afford the costs of online learning, with elements such as Wi-Fi, laptops and smart devices all necessary to allow the new education system to work for every family.
Yet, one charity, which has already pledged over £25,000 to youth clubs, schools and other organisations, has sought to close the digital poverty gap by donating smart tablets to local schools, to be distributed to families who need them most.
The Charlotte Hartey Foundation is a charity set up in memory of Charlotte Hartey, who tragically passed away at the age of 16 during the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009, following complications arising from a misdiagnosis.
As well as supporting youth ventures, schools and other local bodies, the Foundation also funds structured, purposeful projects in and around Shropshire and Cheshire, giving young people the opportunity to realise their full potential.
As part of its mission to help youngsters through the coronavirus crisis, the charity has to date donated 65 tablets to children and schools across Shropshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire to ease the burden on the education sector and help a generation of pupils access vital e-learning resources.
Charlotte’s father Karl Hartey [pictured], is a patron of the Foundation. Karl is also the chairman of Chester-based financial advisory firm Hartey Wealth Management Ltd, which he runs alongside his son, Tristan Hartey, who is Charlotte’s brother. Tristan is also a patron of and active spokesperson for the charity.
Commenting on the Foundation’s work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Tristan said: "We are so pleased to announce that we have now donated 65 tablets to children and schools in the Shropshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire areas, and we are now entering the process of donating a further 15 where needed.
"The digital divide is proving a significant barrier to keeping children’s education going and we want to do whatever we can to help."
Karl Hartey added: "We are very proud of the efforts that our Foundation has made thus far, but we know that there will be more local institutions out there in need of our help. We would urge anyone in need to reach out so that we can do whatever we can to assist."
If you know of any schools, families or organisations in need of help, contact information for The Charlotte Hartey Foundation can be found here.