Guest Blog – Laptops For Vulnerable Children – Emma Baggott: ‘Every day that passes is yet another day when the inequality gap is widening.’
Emma Baggott is a theatre-maker, theatre director and teacher originally from Wales now based in London. She has launched an inspiring appeal to buy laptops for children struggling to do their lessons at home during the pandemic.
On January 4th like many people I’m sat, with my family, waiting for Boris Johnson to grace us with his presence. To hear his briefing. I had given up on the press briefings. Initially, they felt like events, when the vernacular was new, but I had grown tired of the incessant drivel.
But January 4th felt different. It felt big and heavy. We waited, we watched, we listened and then we cried. This time around, although devastated for the theatre industry, Johnson had dropped a bomb that hit me to my core. He cancelled the summer 2021 GCSEs. I have a child who has spent her whole school career working towards this seminal milestone.
I was angry and full of rage on behalf of all the young people, not just those no longer sitting their GCSEs. I started to think about all the other young people trying to weather this storm in very different boats.
Ofcom estimates that there are up to 1.7 million children in the UK who do not have home access to a laptop, desktop or a tablet. Through my research it has become apparent that even if families do have the required devices there might not be enough money to pay for all the extra data / Wi-Fi that is needed to be on a Zoom call or access the online lessons.
The government is holding Schools accountable to get all pupils online. Those who can afford devices can stay at home. Those who cannot have to sacrifice their health and go to school.
Forcing children whose parents do not have the disposable income to buy a laptop / tablet to attend school during a pandemic is hideous.
It became very evident that this was not a time for talking but for action. Right now, the government is facing a legal challenge at its lack of action. It has “continually failed” to ensure that disadvantaged students can continue with their education. We all knew that there would be a second wave.
We’ve been in this state for almost a year now there has been such little decisive action from our government.
On the 4thJanuary I vowed to do something. To make it all a little bit better. Last Thursday I set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy laptops / tablets / data for London’s disadvantaged young people and started tweeting. Twitter really has been a fantastic tool for fundraising.
With wonderful support from Lou Lou Mason and some glorious Tweets from Anna Jordan the fundraiser has really taken off.
We’ve been bowled over by the generosity of the theatre industry and from people far and wide. We’ve had some large donations and have been helped by Tweets and Instagram posts from those with large followings.
Within 36 hours we had reached our initial target of £10,000. With this triumph we raised the target to £20,000.
WE'VE GOT to £13,000 THANKS EVERYONE FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
Just £7,000 to go.
Please keep retweeting / sharing / if you can donate. #laptops #tablets #knowledgeispower #inequalitygap #Covid19UK
Thank you @LouLouMason for everything you are doinghttps://t.co/JarFz4EloT
— Emma Baggott (@Spectatoreab) January 11, 2021
We have identified the three poorest boroughs in London and will work with two schools from each borough to get them the tech that will be the most useful for their students.
Time is precious. Every day that passes is yet another day when the inequality gap is widening.
You can make a donation here:
if you have an old laptop / desktop or tablet you can donate that here: