Clicking into place! Grant for centre taking on ‘digital divide’

Friday, 5th February 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Prospex youth centre_pre lockdown

The youth centre in December before lockdown

A YOUTH charity has received a funding boost that will help it get digital devices for youngsters to enable them to work at home.

Prospex, which is based off Caledonian Road, is a youth centre that works with “hard to reach” young people. It has received £20,500 grant from the Make Some Noise campaign to help support services during the Covid lockdown.

The money will help fund a six-month mental health pilot project providing youngsters with counselling. The centre is also working with young people to create their own podcast.

Some of the grant will be used to provide 26 tablets and 13 Wifi routers to children who need them to work from home and to keep in touch with the Prospex team who run online youth sessions.

Prospex chief executive Richard Frankland said: “We are constantly seeing, particularly with homeschooling and from talking to parents, that a number of young people working from home need devices for school. They can’t get on with their work.

“Some haven’t got tablets at all, whereas others have got just one computer in the house. We started asking questions, saying ‘how do we address this and how can we help?’”

The issue was raised at last week’s children’s scrutiny committee meeting at the Town Hall.

Jeff Cole, from the school improvement service, told the online meeting that nearly every child in secondary education has a laptop to work from home.

Among primary school pupils, he said, every family has at least one device. He added: “I think it’s remarkable we have gotten to that place since March.”

The council is currently looking into accessing grants to help provide more devices for children.

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