Wolves Foundation have added a digital strand to the Feed Our Pack campaign to support those in need in Wolverhampton, with a push to distribute laptops and other devices across the community.
Feed Our Pack has been launched by the Foundation with the aim of helping overcome some of the damaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic by supporting selected local foodbanks and organising Holiday Hunger activities for young people within the city.
Now the Foundation is aiming to try and help address the growing digital divide and inequalities in society in terms of providing equipment for people of all ages to help with education and reduce isolation.
In the future, fans will also have the chance to play their part and support the initiative by donating laptops or tablets that they no longer require.
“Feed Our Pack is a campaign which aims to cover many of the different issues which have been caused by the pandemic,” said Tom Warren, senior manager (projects) with Wolves Foundation.
“Providing food to people who need it as well as activities for young people during the holidays are among the core aims of the project, but we are also aware of the digital gap in the community between those who have regular access to online learning and resources at home, and those who don’t.
“The pandemic and lockdown have heightened the issue of digital connectivity, leading to a huge increase in global internet usage, and that has widened the gap between those who may not have access to online activities away from school or work.
“The government and the City of Wolverhampton Council have been doing their bit by distributing laptops to school pupils and adult learners, but we know this is a substantial problem and are hoping to help by providing additional support where we can.
“We have invested in a number of digital devices which we have started to distribute to selected participants who we know do not have access to anything at home, and that can be anyone across all of our projects.
“It might be to help schoolchildren with their learning, offer Kicks participants the chance to join an online workshop or to enjoy some gaming, give people the opportunity to engage with our Head 4 Health programme or ensure our Wolves Elders are able to keep in touch.
“As well as our own donation, in the future, when regulations allow, we will also be inviting supporters to play their part by donating any laptops or tablets which they are no longer using which can also then be passed on to our participants.”
The first devices have now been distributed, including to Bantock Primary School and Eastfield Primary School.
Mrs H. Sarai, headteacher at Bantock Primary, said: “Our ethos is to provide a stimulating environment to learn in school and more recently, remotely.
“We have aimed to minimise one of the barriers to remote learning which has been access to the right technology for all our learners.
“We are extremely grateful to the Wolves Foundation who have supported us in this aim and kindly donated tablets for two of our pupils.
“It will make a difference in closing the digital divide for those pupils who otherwise would not have digital resources to continue learning at home.”
Leanne Hylton, upper phase lead, at Eastfield Primary School, added: “This equipment provides our students that are struggling at home with the opportunity to access the learning.
“They can access our Eastfield YouTube account to watch all the amazing teacher videos that are being put there, and it gives them a lifeline to keep them part of our school community.”
And Jason and Steve, both participants on the Foundation’s Head 4 Health programme, have been equally appreciative of the support.
“I'd love to thank everyone at the Wolves Foundation for this which is going to mean a lot,” said Jason.
“I haven't had a phone to be able to job search and everything like that, and being able to join the zoom meetings will be great as I have missed going over West Park to do the walks that we had been doing.”
Steve added: “I loved the walk and talk sessions with Wolves Foundation and have really missed them and all the people I have got to know over the last couple of years.
“This is my first ever laptop, and I will be using it as much as I can.
“I'll be coming on to the zoom meetings as well because I wanted to do it before, but it was difficult with a phone and that.”
Foundation staff expect this to be a long-running project to potentially include those supporter donations when possible and will continue to support participants even after pupils are able to return to school and beyond.
More details of that will be announced when regulations permit.