Children across the county are benefitting from generous donations of laptops from major organisations.

Sellafield Ltd is thrilled to have donated a further 156 laptops and computers to schools throughout West Cumbria, as part of its ongoing work to support pupils in their remote learning.

The company also gave away almost 500 devices in December, as part of a wider collaborative support effort alongside local authorities, suppliers and other agencies.

Emma Graham, a senior buyer within the Information Services Organisation at Sellafield said: “We worked quickly through the WELL project to determine the immediate need from schools, alongside our supply chain partners at ATOS and Allvotec who worked tirelessly to refurbish as many laptops as we could.

"OneFM also kindly supported deliveries this time around to help us move the devices to schools as quickly as possible”.

Emma Williamson, community resilience and social inclusion team leader at Copeland Borough Council, said: “In addition to the Sellafield Ltd laptops, the swift financial support we received from elsewhere has enabled us to provide much needed resources to children and young people, to access remote learning.

“The £43,000 awarded by Cumbria County Council, Copeland Community Fund and members of the Sellafield supply chain is a testament to partnership working and demonstrates how pooling our resources can really benefit the local community and have a direct impact on those in need.”

Jonathan Sunter, quality of education lead at Solway Community School said: “We still have a number of students completing their distance learning on parent’s mobile phones and we cannot thank Sellafield Ltd enough for all the equipment they have provided us so far.”

And it's not just Sellafield playing its part, as Asda and Dell have teamed up to provide 60 laptops to schools across Carlisle and the rest of the county.

The supermarket giant is investing £2 million, to allow every Asda store in the UK to donate at least 10 laptops to a school in need of support within the local community – aiming to donate a total of 7,000 laptops nationally.

Each laptop comes with a tech bundle that includes a headset and a mobile internet dongle with a data allowance of 20gb from Asda’s network partner Vodafone.

The dongle and data allowance has been funded by a separate £500,000 contribution from the retailer’s charity arm, The Asda Foundation.

Laptops will also include a one-year warranty and technical support.

After launching the initiative in a bid to support those struggling with digital exclusion, Roger Burnley, CEO and president of Asda, is hoping to see the scheme make a positive difference.

He said: “It’s clear that digital exclusion is an issue affecting many thousands of children who attend schools in communities that we serve.

"These children have been disproportionately affected by the lockdown, and are at risk of falling further behind their peers.

"We want to do all we can to help break down the digital barriers so they can continue their education remotely.”

Each Asda store across Cumbria will nominate a nearby primary or secondary school struggling to support home learning, with Asda’s Better Communities team then reviewing nominations using Government benchmarking data to ensure laptops are going to schools with the greatest need.

Dayne Turbitt, senior vice president and general manager for Dell Technologies in the UK, said: “Digital exclusion is a growing global and societal issue, which is significantly impacting the UK as a result of the most recent national lockdown.

"As a global technology company committed to driving human progress, we want to help support families across the UK with access to devices, connectivity and the critical tools needed to fully participate in remote learning.

"By working alongside Asda, we can help champion digital inclusion for young people across the country.”

But Asda isn't just helping out with laptops, as during the Autumn 2020 term, the Asda Foundation awarded more than half a million pounds to hundreds of schools to ensure children could get back into the classroom.

This included providing grants for everything from stationery to school uniform banks, breakfast clubs and more, to ensure no child felt excluded due to financial limitations.

With the move to home learning set to continue, this support will go some way to meet the increasing need for access to devices and data.