Eighteen Draperstown businesses get together to help tackle school 'digital exclusion'

A number of businesses in the Draperstown area have come together to launch an initiative to help schools tackle digital exclusion for children in the surrounding area.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 10:29 am

The Draperstown Digital Inclusion Project was developed when a school principal in the area highlighted that some children were at risk of falling behind in their education because they do not have access to the technology to take part in online lessons during periods of school closures, due to the pandemic.

Responding to the need the Workspace Group established a consortium of some 18 local business with the aim of raising funding to purchase digital devices for the eight schools in the area.

The aim of the project was to enable the schools to identify those children who didn’t have access to or had limited access to a suitable digital device to undertake home schooling work.

Pictured are representatives from the businesses who contributed to the Draperstown Digital Inclusion Fund 2021. Holding the sign is Mrs Georgina Grieve (Chief Executive of Workspace), Mr Laurence O’Kane (Chairman of Workspace).
Pictured are representatives from the businesses who contributed to the Draperstown Digital Inclusion Fund 2021. Holding the sign is Mrs Georgina Grieve (Chief Executive of Workspace), Mr Laurence O’Kane (Chairman of Workspace).

The devices would be gifted to the schools who would then distribute them to children/families as necessary.

With many parents trying to juggle home schooling with every day commitments during these already challenging times the local businesses involved welcomed the opportunity to work together and play their part in supporting efforts in making a difference to the local community.

Laurence O’Kane, Chairperson of the Workspace Group, said: “It’s clear that digital exclusion is real issue for many children, not just those who attend schools in our community.

"Children have been widely affected by school closures and the lockdowns and with the support of many local businesses this project has allowed us to try to limit the amount of digital exclusion in our community and prevent many children from falling behind their peers

Holding the poster are Georgina Grieve (Chief Executive of Workspace), Mr Laurence O’Kane (Chairman of Workspace) with representatives of the schools who benefited from the project.

"The initiative has raised over £27k in funding and as a result has, to date, been able to provide digital devices to over 140 children/families in the area via the 8 local schools, both primary and secondary.

Georgina Grieve, chief executive of the Workspace Group, said: "We were delighted with the response from all the local businesses who were keen to contribute and work in collaboration with each other to provide vital support for children and help break down the digital barriers so that they can continue their education remotely.”

With schools not expected to re-open until March, at the earliest, the Draperstown Digital Inclusion Project has been a welcomed support for the local schools and is helping to bridge the gap for those households that don’t have access to the technology and resources they need.

Pascal Diamond, principal of St Eoghan’s Primary school, said: “I am very proud of the amazing response from our local business community to my request for digital devices.

"The families in St Eoghan’s PS that benefited from these devices have asked me to extend their gratitude to each of the businesses involved.

"These are very challenging times for everyone in society, and it is heart-warming to see the response from local businesses to our families needing support”

The 18 local businesses involved in the project include: ASM Chartered Accountants, Ballinascreen Credit Union, Bloc Blinds, Cloane Construction, Corramore, Draperstown Surgery, EDS, Four Dee Ltd, H&A Mechanical, Heron Brothers, MJ McBrides Construction Ltd, NMK Steel Ltd, O’Kane Holdings, O’Kanes Pharmacy, Sperrin Galvanisers Ltd, Sperrin Metal, Yard Master and the Workspace Group.

---Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.