Sheffield businesswoman urges others to ‘not sit by and allow a generation of young people to be sidelined’

A Sheffield businesswoman is urging other businesses to ‘not sit by and allow a generation of young people to be sidelined’, by donating computers to the city’s disadvantaged young people.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 12:30 pm

Louisa Harrison-Walker, the founder of Benchmark Recruit, has donated a number of devices to the Laptops for Kids campaign, which hopes to close the ‘digital divide’ in Sheffield.

With the recent Government announcement surrounding Covid-19, there are concerns that more young people will see their education disrupted, which is why she is asking for more companies to help.

Louisa said: “As a business with a social conscience it really concerned us when we heard about the emerging digital divide and how less advantaged youngsters were getting left behind due to a lack of computers.

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Louisa Harrison-Walker, the founder of Benchmark Recruit.

“We would encourage any businesses or organisations with unused laptops to donate them to this cause. I cannot emphasise enough how much of a game changer just one device can make to a young person’s life.”

As well as being the founder of Benchmark Recruit - which helps Sheffield businesses with the recruitment and retention of specialist staff - Louisa is also a board member of the Higher Education Progression Partnership.

She understands how a lack of resources may prevent a young person from reaching their potential as the Higher Education Progression Partnership works across the region to encourage more children, young people and adults to consider higher education opportunities.

Louisa added: “We are working hard to break down barriers for young people to enter further and higher education. We know all too well the implications for an individual’s life chances if they do not get access to a good education. The pandemic is making this more difficult. We must not sit by and allow a generation of young people to be sidelined.”

Louisa Harrison-Walker has urged more companies to donate to the Laptops for Kids campaign as 'just one device' can make a difference. Picture: Andrew Roe

The Laptops for Kids campaign was launched by The Star, WANdisco and Learn Sheffield in September, to address the growing problem of young people falling behind on their education as a result of not having access to a computer or the Internet.

David Richards, CEO of WANdisco said: “Thousands and thousands of young people are falling behind at school because they cannot log on at home. This is an enormous waste of potential and is storing up social problems for the future.

“We are delighted that Louisa is supporting our campaign and urge more businesses and organisations with the resources to come forward and help us close the digital divide in Sheffield.”

Companies who donate can be reassured that all laptops will be securely erased before being distributed.

They will be given to children who currently do not have access to one and the distribution of the devices will be under the coordination of Learn Sheffield who is working with schools throughout Sheffield.

If your company or organisation is able to make a donation, email [email protected]