In December 2021 as a response to the critical need for digital devices during the pandemic, Haringey Giving partnered with Haringey Council to open the Haringey Digital Divide Appeal through which over £390,000 was raised. Its aim was to support children and young people in the borough who did not have access to laptops, WiFi and other technological support. 

Haringey Giving raised £41,000 in cash and a further £150,000 was donated as in-kind donations, including 1,000 devices. The campaign captured the attention of organisations including Raspberry Pi and The Bloomfield Trust, who subsequently joined as partners. Haringey Council matched the donations with £200,000 too and distributed a further 1,019 devices to schools through the COVID-19 Hardship Fund.

Thanks to the appeal 2000 pupils at 10 schools and colleges across the borough received digital devices within weeks, enabling them to access and continue their education from home without too much disruption. Local company Techrelate also came on board to offer in-kind technical support to recipients of devices, free IT security advice to local community groups, and to repurpose computers donated by businesses. 

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During the pandemic Haringey Council conducted a survey among local children looking into the distribution of school meals in order to identify the most digitally excluded and found that a lot of low income families with children in receipt of school meals had no access to digital devices to do their homework either. Larger families also struggled as suddenly access to education was solely dependent on having a digital device which more often than not had to be shared amongst several siblings. 

Organisations such as The Engine Room, Causeway Irish Housing Association, Generation Exchange as well as local schools came through to Haringey Giving via the Together We Can Fund - which at the time specifically focused on bridging the digital divide - and received grants to alleviate the effects of the lack of digital access. Thanks to the £9,000 grant The Engine Room, was able to acquire six new laptops for around 36 young people, aged 14-18. The money was also used for IT support and dongles to enable young people to have better WiFi access at home and for The Engine Room to run the Messy Play and Art4All programmes.

Causeway Irish Housing Association which provides vulnerable young people, many of whom have no family in the UK and who are in acute housing need with support around education, employment and isolation. Through a grant of £4,974 Causeway was able to help their young tenants continue to study, be connected and to find employment.

The impact of the enforced isolation was also felt by the elderly in the borough. Generation Exchange is a local charity based in Haringey and Enfield, which was set up in 2016 to bring together older and younger people offering supportive intergenerational activities, with older people helping children with reading and maths and secondary pupils teaching older people how to use digital devices. Since the pandemic made face to face contact impossible, staff at Generation Exchange quickly realised that digital devices would be the vital link the older generation needed to feel less isolated at that difficult time.

While the appeal was open Haringey Giving also funded ten other local projects in order to overcome digital exclusion in the borough. Action for Kids received £1,512, Earlsmead School £2,790, Groundswell Arts £1,500, The O.K. Foundation £1,500, Stroud Green Primary School £1,316, Tiverton Primary School £1,500, You Vs You £1,877, Breadline London £4,025, Haringey Shed £6,440 and RISE Projects £2,300.

Thanks to our kind donors, Haringey Giving enabled local organisations provide, amongst others, employability sessions for disabled people, digital access for young people, ease digital access for larger families with more than one child of school age, run digital skills courses and digital workshops for parent and enable access for families to online services. They made it possible for schoolchildren to learn at home instead of falling behind with schoolwork and lessened the impact of pure isolation for the older generation.

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Although these successes are a great achievement, the digital divide remains an ongoing and significant problem in Haringey. Many households still suffer from the lack of access to a laptop or internet at a time when digital connectivity plays a much bigger part in everyone’s lives. After the pandemic especially, lack of digital access and skills has a much greater impact on the ability for children and young people to achieve their full potential. 

So, at present we continue to support the Digital Inclusion Network. Our most recent initiative included continued collaboration with Raspberry Pi and the Bloomfiled Trust who distribute devices to children and young people experiencing digital exclusion, through local community organisations. We are also working with Raspberry Pi, the Bloomfield Trust and Haringey Council to expand the programme in the coming year to support even more children and young people who still have no device of their own. We carry on funding organisations who are well-placed to provide WIFI and internet access to those young people excluded from it and Techrelate is still providing information to organisations on online safety and cyber security.  

Digital exclusion is an inequality that we at Haringey Giving are committed to addressing over the long term. Your generous support to this Fund has enabled us to begin this journey.   

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