Through a package of devices and data, Virgin Media claims it is stepping up efforts to support families across the country to ensure they have the tools and connectivity needed to take part in remote learning while schools remain closed.
As part of its comprehensive support package, the broadband provider is partnering with the charity Business in the Community to fund and distribute 1,500 laptops and mobile dongles to schoolchildren and young adults in the UK who are struggling to learn virtually.
Each laptop will come with a 4G dongle containing 25GB of data per month, which is simply plugged into the device to get home learners instantly connected to teachers, educational tools and online classes.
It comes as England rugby star, Maro Itoje, has been calling on businesses to do what they can to support families in need in order to close the ‘digital divide’. Says Itoje:
“My ask was simple – step up and be counted. Virgin Media has done just that, acting swiftly to address all points of concern to guarantee children across the UK have access to vital learning during school closures and the company should be congratulated for that. Without the closing of this deficit, the social divide only broadens, making reintegration into the classroom environment near-impossible for the most deprived.”
Adds Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media:
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have been supporting our customers and helping to close the digital gap for those most in need.
“Remote learning can be tough enough without the added pressures and worry of affording devices and connectivity, so we wanted to step up and lend a hand. Our Help for Home Learners initiative will put devices and data into the hands of schoolchildren which, alongside free data boosts and our dedicated Essential broadband package, will mean more pupils can continue their education while schools are closed.”
As a way to further boost the number of devices available, Virgin Media will soon be providing a simple route for the public to donate any spare second-hand laptops and devices through its existing mobile ‘trade-in’ partner. Further details will be shared with customers in due course.
This announcement today comes as a recent study from Assembly Research revealed that UK mobile and broadband operators have, together, provided almost £1 billion (£940 million) worth of support to consumers and businesses affected by Covid-19 since the pandemic began last year, with the majority of those measures targeted at vulnerable consumers.
‘Help for Home Learners’ initiative:
- Working with Business in the Community to donate 1,500 laptops and dongles, loaded with 25GB of data per month, to families in need
- Using its existing device ‘trade-in’ partner, Virgin Media will soon give people a simple way to donate spare laptops and devices
- Offering an additional 20GB of free mobile data per month to families facing financial difficulties via the Department for Education’s Get help with technology scheme. More information available here.
- Zero-rating access to the Oak National Academy learning resources website meaning pupils can access the service without using any of their mobile data.