January 25, 2022
Be Free Young Carers worked with Getting Oxfordshire Online to provide much-needed laptops to young carers, which helped this already disadvantaged group keep up with school work during the pandemic, and stay connected with their social networks.
Young carers look after a relative with a disability, illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol problem. The pandemic highlighted digital poverty amongst 8-17 year-olds that local charity Be Free Young Carers (BYFC) supports. It had shown that there was a huge gap between children who were able to do their online school lessons and those that weren’t.
With lessons and activities moving online due the pandemic, BFYC were quick to notice that a high number of young carers were having to do lessons via smart phones, or take turns between their siblings to use the family computer. There were not enough school laptops reaching young carers, who are already at a disadvantage due to their caring role. The lack of technology meant that they were missing out on valuable school lessons and important contact time with school friends – and the division between young carers and their peers was getting bigger.
Getting Oxfordshire Online was able to supply BFYC with sufficient devices to allow their young carers to access their classes, not just over the pandemic but if they had to be isolated due to COVID. This was an important step in bridging the void between young carers and their peers. It also meant that they now had access to the internet, not just for school work, but for social aspects, joining their friends on video calls for example. They also now had a new tool that meant they could research their homework, access our online classes and relieve their isolation in the long term.
Sabiene North, Fundraiser and Events Coordinator at BFYC, says: “The process of receiving the devices was easy and quick. We completed an application form and liaised with a member from Getting Oxfordshire Online. The devices were handed to us quickly and we were able to deliver these to our young carers.
“The impact on our young carers has been immense. Due to the nature of their caring role, young carers are isolated and suffer from loneliness. They are often bullied at school, and their school work suffers. If they don’t even have the correct technology in place like their peers have, then they are already starting their school career behind their peers. By giving them a laptop, we aren’t only allowing young carers to start secondary school on a level playing field as other children; we are offering them the tools to relieve their isolation, give them responsibility to own something that is theirs to call their own.
“In an era where young carers’ mental health is at an all-time low, Getting Oxfordshire Online has helped to relieve this and make sure young carers are treated equally with technology compared to their peers. The issue of digital poverty will continue, and as our young carers face the first year of secondary school, we are committed to providing those that need it with a laptop. We hope to continue working with Getting Oxfordshire Online in the future to ensure this vision is fulfilled. Many thanks to Getting Oxfordshire Online for their support so far.”
If your charitable organisation would like to refer disadvantaged people of any age to Getting Oxfordshire Online, please contact us.