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Digital Exclusion

BBC Children in Need announces new funding to tackle digital exclusion

31 March 2021

BBC Children in Need has announced further funding to address the digital divide, bringing the total invested to £3.4m since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. A further £400,000 is being committed in addition to the £3m already allocated by the charity last year to help children and young people access digital devices such as laptops or tablets and stay connected. This new funding includes a £100,000 donation from the charity’s partner, HSBC UK.

This new funding of £400,000 will be allocated to BBC Children in Need’s Emergency Essentials crisis fund, enabling grants to be awarded to children, young people and families through registered referrers to help them access digital devices and stay connected, through broadband or data allowances.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, BBC Children in Need has dedicated over £3m of funding specifically to address digital exclusion, supplying devices such as laptops or tablets to families who would not otherwise be able to afford or access these items, and supporting them to get online through broadband or data allowances. This has included a grant of £500,000 to the Good Things Foundation to specifically support children and young people facing digital exclusion through devices and connectivity. A further £602,707 of funding was allocated via BBC Children in Need’s crisis fund, Emergency Essentials, to provide essential equipment to children with specialist needs and digital devices to children and young people living in poverty, who have been further disadvantaged by not having access to a tablet or laptop at home to help with learning whilst schools have been closed. Through the charity’s COVID-19 2020 Booster and Next Steps funding programmes, which were designed to help organisations support for children and young people who are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the charity awarded over 600 grants to the value of £1.9 million to help children and young people stay connected.

BBC Children in Need funded project, Spread a Smile, were awarded tablets to support their work through The Good Things Foundation funding. Lucy Jackson, Chief Executive of Spread a Smile, said: “We launched Spread a Smile digital in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, to provide a much needed distraction for seriously ill and hospitalised children who had become more isolated than ever due to COVID-19. Children in hospital were restricted to one parent visitor only and many services and activities had been withdrawn. We worked with our NHS hospital partners to identify 50 families to distribute the tablets to. For these children and young people, not having devices or access to the internet can lead to even greater feelings of isolation and exclusion. The tablets come with a dongle to get online and are pre-loaded with apps so as well as having instant access to our digital services to entertain and offer a much needed distraction from their ongoing treatment, the children and young people and their families can take advantage of the other educational apps on offer. We are incredibly grateful to BBC Children in Need for introducing us to Good Things Foundation and of course to The Good Things Foundation for providing us with these tablets to help ensure our services are as inclusive as possible and together we can spread many more smiles.”

Simon Antrobus, Chief Executive of BBC Children in Need, said: “Thanks to the generosity of the British public, we have now awarded a total of £3.4m to help children and young people access digital devices and to stay connected throughout the pandemic. This has been critical in helping children and young people with learning whilst schools have been closed, as well as ensuring that they can continue to engage with specialist support projects and connect with family and friends. Even with schools returning, there will continue to be children who are disadvantaged in their learning, social and wider opportunities if they do not have access to a laptop or tablet, so I’m very pleased that we are able to announce further funding to tackle this issue, with help from our partner HSBC UK.”

Following The Big Night In appeal in April, BBC Children in Need launched a number of dedicated COVID-19 response programmes to support local charities and projects across the UK who are providing essential help to children and young people during the current crisis. To date, the charity has awarded £25.3 million in funding to specifically help organisations in communities across the UK provide essential support to children and young people facing disadvantage during the pandemic.

Press enquiries:

For more information, please contact Henni Cardy at BBC Children in Need – [email protected]

About BBC Children in Need:

BBC Children in Need’s vision is that every child in the UK has a safe, happy and secure childhood and the chance to reach their potential. The charity will realise this vision by supporting, promoting and publicising work that addresses the challenges that children and young people face and work that builds their skills and resilience.

BBC Children in Need is currently supporting over 3,500 local charities and projects in communities across the UK that are helping children and young people facing a range of disadvantages such as living in poverty, being disabled or ill, or experiencing distress, neglect or trauma.

About HSBC UK:

HSBC UK serves around 14.5 million customers across the UK, supported by 32,000 colleagues. HSBC UK offers a complete range of retail banking and wealth management to personal and private banking customers, as well as commercial banking for small to medium businesses and large corporates.

About Money Heroes:

Money Heroes is an 18-month partnership between HSBC UK, BBC Children in Need and Young Money to provide Money Heroes training, resources, books and games to 100 voluntary organisations. The programme will equip organisations to teach money management skills to disadvantaged children aged 3-11 years, with a particular focus on early years, disabled children, young carers and those living in poverty. The programme aims to increase financial understanding amongst children and young people facing disadvantage.

How we’re keeping families & families connected in lockdown

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