Charity offers digital lifeline to disadvantaged young people

Web child in bedroom phone laptop studying

MCR Pathways will provide 300 computers and internet access to those most in need.

27th May 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

A new initiative from mentoring charity MCR Pathways will provide a digital lifeline to some of the country’s most disadvantaged young people living in homes without computers and internet access.

With the majority of Scotland’s children taking lessons at home due to the coronavirus lockdown, there are real concerns that young people from poorer backgrounds will be left behind, widening the attainment gap between them and their peers.

A recent study by youth charity Includem suggested that as many as one in five children in this group lack the devices they need to complete school work, while a third of their families say they cannot afford broadband costs.

Now, helped by funding from the Scottish Government and JP Morgan, MCR will provide internet access and computers for up to 300 young people who live in households without access to the vital support network of the school and their mentors. Working in partnership with local authorities and schools, the charity will also extend its comprehensive virtual mentoring programme further across the country.

Iain MacRitchie, MCR Pathways founder, said: “Since the start of the lockdown, our team has worked tirelessly to maintain the crucial relationships between volunteer mentors and our young people. Sadly, lockdown has highlighted deep-rooted inequalities with some young people being unable to access the internet and do any school work from home. With schools to remain closed until after the summer, we needed to act now to prevent young people from feeling isolated and disconnected.

“We are delighted to have secured funding from the Scottish Government and JP Morgan to enable us to provide internet access and equipment for at least 300 young people. The strong relationships between our school staff and young people have enabled us to quickly identify those most in need, and to reconnect them with their mentors.

“This now marks the longest time young people have been absent from school and we have yet to quantify the impact on all sections of society. One-to-one support and the dedication of our committed teachers is desperately needed to limit the serious and significant challenges faced by our disadvantaged young people during lockdown. We simply cannot allow the attainment gap to widen even further.”

Communities secretary Aileen Campbell welcomed the initiative, saying: “MCR Pathways provides crucial support for children and young people across Scotland so it’s fitting that we are able to provide this funding during Mental Health Awareness Week to allow them to continue to provide this support digitally during the current pandemic.

“We need to continue to support all of our children’s health and wellbeing, but even more so disadvantaged children, who often rely on school life for a safe, nurturing and supportive environment. This additional funding will enable more children and young people and their families to maintain the vital mentoring relationships that have been developed through the programme.”