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Lenovo to give £1 from every laptop sale to UK digital poverty charities

Tech giant to support local authorities and charities with hardware and expertise

Lenovo has pledged to raise £1 million from laptop sales to combat digital poverty across the UK and Ireland.

The announcement is an expansion of its digital equity programme, which now includes allocating £1 from each laptop it sells to help local authorities, charities, and educational institutes deliver hardware and expertise to the most vulnerable in the UK.

Lenovo said it wants to ensure "technology, time and money" reach those most in need. As such, the company will also be offering its expertise to local charities that are working towards the same goal to help build a "sustainable digital society" through community support and better access to technology.

Four UK organisations have been selected by Lenovo for the programme: disadvantaged children at the St Patrick's Football Club in Dublin will receive educational devices and IT skills training from Lenovo. The Free At Last Birmingham Community organisation will be supplied with devices and community-based skills training for families in the area that have no connectivity.

The company will also offer support for National Digital Skills coaches with devices for disadvantaged citizens via the Ability Net UK charity. The SCC Academy in Solihull will also get access to desktops and monitors for a new academy in the area that will support IT training through the Rigby foundation.

"As one of the world's leading technology companies, we are on a mission to help reduce digital poverty and ensure that there are equal opportunities for all," said Jane Ashworth, Lenovo's SMB and channel director for the UK and Ireland. "By working with local expert charities and giving money, technology and expertise, we will fight to help improve digital equity in the UK."

The UK's digital divide

Lenovo is not the first company to highlight the issue of digital poverty, particularly in the UK. Current government data suggests that 82% of all advertised jobs now require some form of digital skill, at a time when a quarter of vulnerable children in the UK are unable to access "suitable" devices for education, according to Ofcom.

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The issue has also been compounded by the pandemic, with multiple national lockdowns highlighting our reliance on the internet for work and education, according to Cambridge University researchers, Hannah Holmes and Dr Gemma Burgess. Children living in poverty are already significantly disadvantaged compared to their wealthier peers, but the university's research also suggests that of those eligible for free school meals, or who have been in care or adopted from care, only 25% achieved grades 9-5 in GCSE English and Maths in 2019, compared with 50% of all other pupils.

Discussion of digital exclusion often focuses on vulnerable children or the elderly, but according to the research from Cambridge University, it is not a specific generational problem. This was also pointed out by The Good Things Foundation, which told IT Pro last year that the UK's government had "not invested a single extra pound on adult digital inclusion".

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