The pandemic has changed the way we interact and for those on the wrong side of the digital divide, it’s had a great impact on disadvantaged and most-in-need young people. 

The digital exclusion has been targeted by two Haringey community organisations. We spoke to Andrew Johnston, Operations Director from The Engine Room and Tom Ferrie, Life Skills and Project Manager from the Causeway Irish Housing Association - about how the young people they help have benefitted from the ‘Together We Can COVID-19’ grant from Haringey Giving.

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Hi Andrew, how has the Haringey Giving grant made a difference?

“As part of our Compact programme, around 36 young people, aged 14-18, will greatly benefit from the six new laptops we’ve been able to buy with the £9,000 grant which has also gone to support our Messy Play and Art4All programmes. The money will also be used for IT support and dongles to enable the young people to have better WiFi access at home too.”

What has been the situation for the young people in your community?

“There has been a very urgent need to provide our young people with laptops so they can do their school and college work.  Many of whom have simply not had access to anything over the past year due to their circumstances. Many students have been coming into The Engine Room over the past few weeks and we will also be letting some students take the laptops home on a loan basis.

"Being able to use these laptops has helped with my coursework and especially with my CV as well."

Hunkar, a young person who is a regular at the Engine Room

Our twice weekly sessions now enable the young people to reconnect and gain important motivation to engage with their studies and pursue their life goals.”

“This programme is extremely important because everyone doesn’t have the funds to obtain a laptop that is good enough to complete their coursework - and this means they fall behind in a lot of their work. Mentally, being behind in their work is very stressful. On top of the pandemic this adds to the pressures these young people are dealing with in the community and causes them to turn their attention to other things - not beneficial to their future. The lack of a simple laptop can have such an impact. Having this access to a laptop keeps them on top of everything and makes life easier for them.”

John Saitine, volunteer youth worker from The Engine Room

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This has all been possible with computers and peripherals supplied by Raspberry Pi and The Bloomfield Trust - in partnership with Haringey Giving and Haringey Council.  Also, USB dongles and Wi-Fi access have been provided by the Haringey Digital Divide Fund meaning that it has been possible to help thousands of young people who cannot afford to keep on top of their learning without this help.

Causeway Irish Housing Association provides vulnerable young people in acute housing need with support around education, employment and isolation. Supporting many tenants - through their LifeSkills project with education - focussing too on young people leaving care and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. 

The pandemic has increased their tenant’s vulnerability so Causeway successfully applied for a Haringey Giving grant to provide much needed IT support.

Hi Tom, how has the Haringey Giving grant helped?

“The £4,974 will go a long way to help our young tenants continue to study and be connected. Many have no family here and the new laptops and access to WiFi will help them study from home and go on to find employment too.”

"I'm very happy to receive this laptop - it will help me with my school work and keeping in touch with friends."

Kalu, who is one of Causeway’s residents

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