Cambs Youth Panel to provide new laptops for children during coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 15:13 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:14 27 March 2020

Members of the Cambridgeshire Youth Panel who are helping provide Google Chromebooks during the pandemic. Picture: PHIL PRIESTLEY

Members of the Cambridgeshire Youth Panel who are helping provide Google Chromebooks during the pandemic. Picture: PHIL PRIESTLEY

Archant

Young people across Cambridgeshire are helping children across the county enhance their education while at home during the coronavirus pandemic by providing new laptops.

Members of the Cambridgeshire Youth Panel who are helping provide Google Chromebooks during the pandemic. Picture: PHIL PRIESTLEYMembers of the Cambridgeshire Youth Panel who are helping provide Google Chromebooks during the pandemic. Picture: PHIL PRIESTLEY

Members of the Cambs Youth Panel (CYP) are fundraising to provide families with Google chromebooks so that they can engage with online learning tools such as digital libraries, YouTube lectures and virtual learning environments.

Phil Priestley, a former police sergeant for East Cambridgeshire, found the CYP in 2016 and is formed of 16 young people from different schools and colleges in the county with the aim of influencing the quality of life for young people.

“When the schools had to close and when school pupils had to go into isolation, it became apparent that not everyone had access to the computer platforms that they needed to engage with online learning,” Phil said.

“We identified that we had some funds that we had been raising for a separate project – which COVID-19 had effectively postponed for us.

Phil Priestley founded the Cambridgeshire Youth Panel in 2016. Picture: PHIL PRIESTLEYPhil Priestley founded the Cambridgeshire Youth Panel in 2016. Picture: PHIL PRIESTLEY

“So, we diverted the funds from that project into getting our hands on a number of Chromebook devices that could provide some relief to this issue.”

In 2018, the group organised a project to invite students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida to share their experiences about the dangers of violence from carrying weapons into school after 17 people died there following a shooting massacre.

Despite nearly achieving their target in time for the next academic year, the project was postponed, but instead of doing nothing with the funds, CYP had other ideas.

“With our funding raised so far sat in our account, we thought it was immoral not to put it to some use immediately helping young people to cope with the immediate crisis,” Phil said.

“Education is a basic essential right. Denying people a fair education or having to make compromises because of a lack of tools didn’t seem right or fair to the panel.”

The group have spent £5,000 on the fundraiser and have already received over a hundred applications for a Chromebook, but Phil is still looking for more support.

“We are looking at somewhere in the region of 400 kids who don’t have their own computer,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of interest and we’re promoting our activities through social media and local conventional channels.

“For a limited budget, a Google Chromebook gives the student everything they need to do their school work, stay in touch with pastoral support and feel included in what is happening to their community.

“We hope that we will reach our £5,000 crowdfunding target, which would mean that we could distribute 87 Chromebooks and that would be an incredible achievement for us.”

For more information on the project, visit https://cambsyouthpanel.co.uk/chromebooks-for-students or to donate, go to https://bit.ly/3dE6Y99.

Are you organising any community projects or ideas during the COVID-19 outbreak? Tell us what you’re getting up to - email Daniel.Mason@archant.co.uk.


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