When lockdown was announced in March 2020 we realised the wide reaching effect this would have, and in particular were concerned for our affiliated schools in Lewisham, the Leathersellers’ Federation of Schools. Pupils, parents, and teachers alike were immediately placed in the difficult position of having to cope not just with everyday living, but with working and studying from home.
The weeks that followed turned out to be a great learning curve to utilise technology to continue to work/study/teach remotely. But excluded from that opportunity were those children and young people without the IT equipment or WiFi access needed. Many families also suffered substantial losses of income due to being self-employed, on zero hours contracts or being made redundant.
It was estimated that some 200 students in the Federation had no or very limited access to online curriculum provision. With DfE support only available to support a small proportion of these, we wanted to help bridge this digital divide. The school identified those most in need and we provided laptops and Wi-Fi access for three months for at least 110 pupils, allowing them to carry on their studies whilst at home.
With education at the heart of the Leathersellers’ Company, we asked the school’s leadership team how additional philanthropic support might be used to help. With essential needs a top priority, we committed to providing weekly Free School Meal Hampers for ten weeks, to be delivered to 75 of the most vulnerable families. This was in addition to the arrangements for vouchers in lieu of free school meals made by the Department for Education which suffered significant delays.
The Leathersellers’ Company are proud of our commitment and readiness to respond quickly to the extraordinary circumstances during this unprecedented time. We look forward to working with the Federation of Schools in supporting their pupils and community in what will doubtless be challenging times ahead.